My collection of containers:

My collection of containers:

1 Hawaiian Punch jug

Label removed, gift from my great

aunt used to store pennies she littered,

a basement hunt for me and three

cousins, now collecting bedroom dust

2 ají jars

Small, protruding checkered sides

that catch the sun, beautiful,

decorations on the mantle,

one now contains holy water

3 applesauce containers

Kept because of the indents at the side,

easy to hold, memories of the kids

who sloppily ate from it, pretty

pictures of apples and smiles

5 paper cups

Large, used to hold tickets

at arcades, strips still protruding,

never turned in, dusting, hoping

to be used for a giant pink dog

5 take-out salsa containers

Kept for stirring paint, easier

than buying brand-new,

in my basement waiting

for me to start painting again

6 water bottles

Empty, lying on the floor,

reminding of boys long gone,

drunk the day they took my heart,

the last piece I have to hold

The Guide to Making Up

The Guide to Making Up

 

  1. Take the brush and paint

a smile, lips curving

around gritted teeth.

Make sure the liner

stays within your lips

and doesn’t bleed, doesn’t

show him what’s real.

  1. Take him by the hand,

Cock your head and smile.

Bat your eyes and say,

“You coming?” Grin.

  1. Close the door behind

you, watch him turn the wheel

as he finds your spot.

No streetlights, no cameras,

a few empty cars

around so you don’t

look too suspicious.

  1. Let him grab your hair

as he breathes in deep

and exhales your soul,

plasters it against

your pale clammy skin.

  1. Close your eyes and stop

your heart from pumping.

Stop it before

It aches, grows weary

with reality.

  1. Know that what you’re doing

is for the best.

Whoever said happy

wife, happy life was dead

wrong. They never knew

what it’s like to be

that wife, putting

make-up on to hide

the tears that stream.

In the beginning was the Word

In the beginning was the Word

 

In times of death, you wonder what you did to upset

the God above. Should you retrace your frail steps back,

beginning where you failed, taking you to birth, where silence

was your only cry? Graveyards filled by the hundreds today,

the forgotten bones all groaning, knowing only one

Word could erase death, could console a broken soul.

The only one that sees is my basement walls: dirty pours

The only one that sees is my basement walls: dirty pours

 

The canvas, suspended by two wrinkled cups,

stands tall waiting for me to pour the mixed

paint. I watch it fall off the canvas and pool

onto the aluminum guard protecting

my table. It creates shapes unrecognized

by anyone except me, colored clouds

on my own white sky. I burrow in my basement

and squirrel them away once they dry. I name

them with names that I forget, never writing

them down, scared of mistakes, scared of permanence.

Porridge

Porridge

 

We sit on the porch and swing,

legs pumping, small breezes

coming from beneath our feet.

We just finished reading

the story of the three bears,

my own little bears mesmerized

at the porridge, the beds,

the cottage that seems just like ours

if our lives were a fairytale.

When the pages close, they run

through the grass, fast as trees

zipping by in mountain-bound

cars. They don’t grow tired,

even in the heat of the rays

of summer falling behind

the tops of leaves. The baby

sucks the bottle as fire-

flies turn into stars, making

me wonder if I was just

a masked stranger dreaming

of what I wish could stay real.

Gone

Gone

 

At Foster and Cleveland, light red

as Rudolph’s nose, Daddy turned

and said, “I have the ‘riginal Gone

with the Wind. It’s untouched, still

in the wrapper.” I’ve never seen

that. “How could you not? I bought

it for you.” Well, it’s still wrapped,

how could I? “You should one day.”

He smiled, but I knew he was glad

that I didn’t. The movie’d be worth

much more untouched, especially

since the world’s changed so much.

In The South

In The South

 

The fireflies float up the treeline.

But we call them lightning bugs here.

They glimmer as they soar high, seeking

the final warmth of the setting sun

or escaping the heat we’re making

beneath my pick-up’s tarp and brightness

of the stadium parking lot lights.

We watch them rise, little stars

in our small town lives, the only zooming

we see around here. Well, besides the cars

racing around mountain roads, wheels

picking up dust, our hair eating wind.

As they go to the sky, we wonder

what it’d be like to be them: light,

carefree, not afraid to reach new heights,

to kiss the sun or die trying.

Mount Olive, Part II

Mount Olive, Part II

Now that Covid has hit, the sign has changed.

No longer hiring sales professionals.

In need of groundskeepers. To rake the grass,

to dig the holes, to lay the bodies down.

To hold the hearts of families and people

forgotten, plastic flowers covering,

littering, marking their lonely, unkempt graves.

Tang

Tang

 

When I kiss you I taste Tang,

the bitter sweetness lighting

up my lips, my tongue. Memories

of an old you play in my mind.

But that you really wasn’t

you. It was him, before

he left and took my heart

with him hundreds of miles.

The Tang on your mouth tastes

like his old cigarettes,

sticky lip-gloss, and music

playing way too loud as wind

brushed hair against our cheeks.

I kiss you and remember

who we were: the best

of friends, lovers meant to be.

When I vacuum, I sing

When I vacuum, I sing

 

worship songs, praises to God, wishes

for another life, a life that won’t fall

apart with every turn, every look,

every glance in another direction.

A better life. I sing for mercy,

for love that swells, swirls the heart

until it bursts, leaving me a fragment

of who I was, who I am, a flame

of who I will be. With the rumble,

all I have to do is sing.