They will first ask you to shrink 4/24

They will first ask you to shrink
and then to shiver
and then to speak.

And once you’ve shrunken,
they will ask you to

Once you have grown,
they will stare at your changes
and ask why
no one ever stays the same.

Ferns 3/24

Between the red ferns, my belly roars

one person’s growl,

is another person’s piano music,

as soft as young laughter.


Between my red ferns,

not but an inch of skin is clear

from the stretching.


They put several of me into jars,

I grew larger and more reluctant,

and the scars came

from the stretching.


2014 prompt to use certain words in a poem.

“before darkness” – 2/24

such average silhouettes
living in the light of their honeymoon
doused with kisses and expectations,
a clever guise for kerosene.
they paint phase by phase a map of forever,
not realizing that the amber shade of their moon will fade.
Every full and every crescent will set again
and before darkness –
the lover’s eyes will see something less sweet,
a mustard sun,
but they won’t dare to confuse that for reality,
hand in hand, a tight rope walk of grand illusion,
to see sweetness where there will be none.

before darkness, they will never accept the sun.


(based on a prompt from another year – “write a poem titled ‘before darkness’.”)

Ghost shelves 1/24

If I was a better story teller,
would my teeth still be shoved in the spine of this book?
Gumming through the pages of our torrid love affair,
swallowing the chapters I didn’t like.
None of this added up,
an entire encyclopedia but not an ounce of truth.
I saw you taping over the facts and scribbling with stolen paint markers about what had and hadn’t happened.
I felt my hands turn red and my face even redder,
my neck bending from the pressure of the burden you put on my back.
You left me with all these books and nothing to write about.
Every time you opened your mouth,
I lost another muse.
Please stop saying my name in your sleep,
you’re not the only one being haunted,
and my ghosts don’t live on a shelf, like yours.

14/24 fist

Your fist is the same size as my mouth

But that doesn’t mean you needed to introduce them

Ten thousand dollars for one smile and you broke it

without your hands,  with your mouth

every angry word

13/24 bite

There is something ugly

spawned a life in the corner

Eight legged memories

Each one with a bite

12/24 ampersand

Since the beginning of time,
I held your hand at night
And watched the shadow of my shape against the wall.
I would kiss myself good night, wrapped tightly in my loneliness,
begging for a sign of change.

I never played, so I was dull,
The writing child is never full,
but also never empty.
I was too far from bland to be mundane enough.
I was never an adequate companion because my name is so ugly with an ampersand.  13/24 9pm

11/24 burn

I bought a dollar store match box, half price because
the box had a tear in the side
it had lost a few matches and I did
about anything to save a dollar.
I knew the first time I pulled a match out of Creased cardboard that
I had bought an extra burn.

The first stick, she was humble
the Red of her face tickled against the grain of
such a flimsy box.
I used her to light a candle,
but I know if I let the flame burn,
she will burn down my house.

That’s what happens when you
get what you prayed for at night
when you are on your knees praying for a little excitement and
just a spark enough to engulf you
and she comes to you
blending, in and bent
but better at burning
than any of the lovers
In your bed

10/24 shrunk

I remember the first time I was in a hallway with shrunken hips.
I remember the summer that I half disappeared, holding tight to my bones so they wouldn’t press out of my aching edges.
My peers would report a rattle, but I knew it was me. I wasn’t excellent against the wind and water, I just was.
Not a shrunken head, no voodoo doll,
Just a skinny girl with a too-big soul.