or, Visions of Self-Love

-for Luba Morsch


on my 21st birthday

for the first time

I became aware my Mama really knew me

it might seem odd but,

to a sensitive soul like me,

advice is indistinguishable from complaint

and I don’t know a single writer who loves the critics


but I held a new notebook in my hands

already the perfect gift for any writer, even the ones who type,

not just the notebooks but the idea of the notebooks

their empty pages patiently awaiting our curiosity

curiosity, not skill, because the best notebooks

don’t like to house any self-serious dribble


this notebook, bound in clean cream cloth,

rivets holding pages and ribbon lace,

with a stylized heart like a watermark at the top of every page

the cover emblazoned with a dress form, a corset

framed perhaps in a mirror donned with heady pink roses

scrawled in the top-right, “Visions D’Amour,”

Kodak captured a perfect freeze-frame of my heart


for a decade I brought it everywhere

painstakingly labelled each page by hand

with a Table of Contents too, although admittedly

if I’d gotten married one of these times

it would have likely been the signature book

and what a mistake that would have been


instead now it’s loved, frayed

falling away without glue, and sparsely filled

but on the very last page,

the jacket page, beyond the last page

but not inside the back cover,

a stranger from my twenties with my handwriting has scrawled:


you have seen now that it is not what you hold onto

that defines your being

only what you give

and how much

and what

and to whom

this and only 

this is who you are


so now you see? beauty beckons to our best nature

the work blooms and grows to its own rhythm

what we learn this way cannot be forgotten





Rip Van Winkle still sleeps out in the woods

not everyone develops an aversion to trauma

or Patty Hearst would have a different story


nowadays folks just think he’s on something

another lonely soul wandering until their death of despair

no hand reaching out to pull anyone back from the Other Side


“he ate faerie food himself,” they cluck with false sympathy

“tis a terrible fate it’s true, but still, twas not I who bade him wander

in the deep dark woods so late and all alone”


we can change the story a thousand times

palette-swap your villains to sell sensationalized habits

blame the pain to disregard the warning


they’ll say “folks know better in this part of town”

as he staggers by, haggard with a clean new bottle

back into the dark forest to search for another way


hoping he’ll find a staircase from nowhere to nowhere

standing alone in a dappled green clearing

so he can climb up into another dimension

and finally come unstuck




You say God of the Gaps with such derision

Like maybe you think you’re talking about high-priced denim

or a cardigan for your shoulders but not your arms.

Like maybe you think the gaps themselves are at fault,

or that a time is coming when everything will be known.


For starters it’s Goddess of the Gaps but you’re checked out already

I can tell because I knew another man just like you once

You won’t want to hear about what happened to him 

because it’s too crude

and too topical. Your thoughts are manifesting your entire world,

whether or not you think you really mean it. 


You call it Reasoned Logic

I call it an Anti-Magick Aura


If you were honest with your doubts you’d sniff to the science

Hunt down the juicy bone of uncertainty and tear it to pieces

You don’t like quantum mechanics either, just like him

that man I’m not going to tell you about

because you’ll make it personal just like he did.


the symmetry is undeniable 

in elements, in atoms, in storms

in intention and action

even in a face

even in the eye itself


this world blinks at you around every corner

and your bizarre audacity stares back

cynical clinical procedural proctologist

pronouncing the Earth Herself: Dead On Arrival

because only Her deadness gives you diamonds and oil

and you won’t even talk about how that makes you out to be

some kind of extra warped anthropological necrophiliac 

and that’s why Mama Gaia’s got her eyes on you.




Sleep, the first longing thought springs forth

and then I think how typical

Not just of 5 AM which you could call my moment 

but THIS moment in our capitalist dystopia

this WHOLE moment with all its psychotic priorities

Only the quarantined are sick of sleep

Everybody else is just as tired

Just as broke

Just as essential as they were when The Onion was still funny

Just as broken as they were before Teen Vogue was a comrade.

Just as tired. Just as broke. Just as essential.

Just as broken. If not, more.

Oh, but how is Jeff Bezos doing? Cool, cool.

How can I sleep when I’m shaking.

How can I shake if I don’t know why.

Am I afraid? Am I angry?

Am I going to rise up now? Or

will I hide under the covers again,

and if I know that about myself

how can I even look you in the eye and say

“I need more sleep” ?


A “Reiki Ideals” Healing Poem


Sit. Relaxed. 

Feet on the floor. 

Back straight. 

Chin level.


Check in with your breath.


Your breath is another kind of pulse

By which you can check the quality of your life.

Self-Cyphadeen laid it down like this:

Deep, slow, loving breaths? Deep, slow, loving life.

Fast, shallow breaths? Fast, shallow life. 


there are seven lights inside you

the colors of the rainbow illuminate your aura

see them now

the misė en place of your energy body

Red on your tailbone

Orange in your navel

Yellow from your solar plexus

Green within your heart

Blue from your throat

Purple in your forehead

Violet resting on your head

there are seven lights inside you

colors of the rainbow

illuminating your aura

see them now

as we stir and awaken

from root to crown

the holy lights within you

and repeat these words as I do:

Just for today, do not worry

Just for today, do not be angry

Just for today, be filled with gratitude

Just for today, be humble

Just for today, be honest in your words and in your work

Just for today, see the best selves in your neighbors

Just for today, remember we are all connected.

Just for today. Just for today.
Tomorrow we are free to try again.


there are seven lights inside you

Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Violet

the colors of the rainbow illuminate your aura


see them now

feel them now


Just for now

Just for today


then tomorrow, try again




mutual aid means nobody starves

but jellyfish don’t pay taxes

I’m just saying, as human beings

have we looked into these facts, sis?

I like roads and bridges, dude

I like schools and the post office too

Taxes would be fine for me

If our government cared about communities in need

Instead we pay for endless war

trillion dollar deficits nobody asked for

so before this country hits the skids

stop using our money to bomb brown kids


A Narrative Poem & A True Story


misaligned after a loss

I stumbled after spring onto my warm beach

good herb in my backpack, candles sage and crystals

wine and berries, offerings to the holy guardians

by all their names / in all their forms


the Earth herself beneath me

longing for the sun as I longed for the sun

straining with need as I strained with need

and today was the solstice

equality juxtaposed in the spheres themselves

summer burgeoning under our hands


I never plan my rituals

only scan for my “spot” like Don Juan taught
finding it in the perfect inbetweenness

beneath a willow tree

against the flashing pier

the great lake waves crashing on the shore
a sinkhole swallowed all the beach before me
except one narrow strand along the water to cross by

I laid my pack, I drew my circle
a simple charm one sister taught me well
thrice round, selenite rod in hand I sang,

“Here upon this sacred ground,
I cast my circle all around.
Fire, water, earth and air
Within the circle, I call thee here
Lo, North, South, East, and West,
By your power, this circle is blessed.”

I laid my things and sat, realizing with sharp immediacy
the alone-ness of my surroundings and the late hour
and my naked back exposed to the pier for approach from either side.
I was nervous but I drew in a steadying breath.
“I trust that Spirit called me here,” I said, “To give thanks for what I have
To offer my plans for the future,
and to ask for guidance and favor. I was here guided, so here I will stay.”

Across the curving shoreline some three-odd miles away
Fireworks sparked and sounded off Spirit’s synchronistic reply.
Relieved I offer up my wine and soon,

young revellers join me across the way
within eyesight, within earshot
but beyond the strand and circle
now separating The Real from The Fae

Alone-but-not-alone, reassured by the presence of a distant earthly witness
I offered up the berries, the herb, the sage, tobacco, candles, crystals
Thanking Divinity for my blessings and charging Divinity to guide my hand
the next phase of my life blooming like the summer
I prayed for a revolution of spirit / and this was 2019 mind you
so I can’t be certain it’s wise to admit to that

The hour was morning small now.
My ritual all but concluded, I tucked my herb deep in my bag
The revellers ended with more fireworks
and I marveled at the appropriate synchronicities of my ritual
Truly there was no doubt now- all the Earth was my temple
and every element would align with my attentive friendship

So I cleansed myself in the lake,
I poured out my wine to the sacredness of conscious
of Earth herself and of all Divinity by all Their names
Then with my selenite wand again in hand,
Circled the air thrice to close my circle and end my night,

“Depart in peace all spirits here,
Our work is at an end!
Fire, Water, Earth and Air
Away and home I send
To North, South, East, and West
My thanks and greetings do I sound
With this, the circle is unbound.
The circle is open but unbroken.
Merry meet, Merry part, and Merry meet again.” 


I kneel on the sand and begin to gather my tools.
Just then, two flashlights approach with heavy boots up the sandy pier.
Two police officers from the local precinct, likely sent
to investigate the fireworks or maybe the music from the revellers who left
But they’re looking at me now, light in my eyes, and say “Ma’am
This park closes at 10PM.”

I smile, friendly. My herb is deep in my bag, and I know my privilege
even if it makes me sick. Even if I just prayed for change.
That’s one thing about Thoughts & Prayers they say and I don’t disagree, but still
They can’t see my heart through my skin. So I say, “Oh, I’m sorry officers.
I did know that. But you see, it’s Midsummer, and I thought maybe,
No one would notice one person.”

The officers are clearly perplexed. I am not afraid. I know I don’t need to be, and,

I know it’s wrong. But still I smile. Friendly. Sane. Definitely not worth the paperwork.
They look at each other, then back at me. One of them says, “Midsummer?”

I let out a small “Hmm.” Like a teacher. Like a librarian. A friendly one. 

Not reprimanding. But not not-educating. That customer service voice,
that baby-talk-for-Boomers voice. You know what I mean.
When I answer, I speak slowly. Not a caricature, like a real person,
being careful to be simple, and careful to avoid rudeness, but unavoidably
talking down to two cops alone in the dark. 


“Well, you see,” I say, “Midsummer
Is a holiday celebrated by spiritualists, or neo-pagans, and other Earth religions…”
(the looks I’m getting are incredible by the way)
“So, I celebrate an Earth religion…”
“and today is the first day of summer. So it’s a holiday.”

One cop squints at me. The other cop scratches his head.
Cop One says “Do you even have a flashlight?”
I say, “I’ve got my phone… somewhere. Besides, my night vision is pretty good.”
Cop Two says “You’re awfully brave to be out here all alone, Miss.”

Now I know what you’re thinking and there’s no way to replay without it sounding bad
Those were the words he said but that wasn’t how I heard them,
Just as (I think) they didn’t hear my amusement to educate them just moments before.
ACAB, still, maybe even these ones. Again, I can’t really know.
Privileges are blinders that are given to me by devils every day.
All I can do is keep my ears sharp and listen to what they mean to say

But I’m kneeling in the sand, and I want a goddamn revolution,
So I look up at these gentlemen bastards and this is what I say:

“Well, Officer. If you believe in Spirit, or anything like that
and you feel guided to do something. Something specific. 

You sort of have no choice, except to believe that you can do something
and if you do, it’ll all work out all right.”

So I left them scratching their heads on that beach
As I hurried back to my car
At once both relieved and sicked that my privilege kept me safe

and sans a mild-to-moderate fine under decriminalization

Never knowing that each request would be granted and more
Never knowing the prescient meaning of the police presence
Not then. Not yet. 

I hope they think about what I meant.

I doubt they think about what I meant.

As for the future,
Truth is only ever determined in hindsight.

If you want your Big Life Lesson from 2020,

There it is.




My father gave me a beautiful poster print

from his tool and dye shop at Xerox

when I was a senior in high school

picturing colorful hardcover books stacked in a pyramid

and beneath this obelisk an epitaph:

“A Monument To Ephemeral Facts”


It was beautiful, and I was offended

The same way I was offended by the Nook reader

not one atom in my being desiring to trade

the warm familiarity of turning pages

for the cold clinical brightness of a tablet screen


I was young then, but oh how certain I was

that I was a crone hag bent on traditional wildness

unwilling to trade any convenience for the magick of my tools

the way, I’m sure, 20th century writers clung to their manual typewriters

too aware that their woods was lacking in electrical outlets


But I loved my library in those days

no matter how many flights of stairs I had to haul it up

no matter how many broken bookshelves needed replacing

that was nearly a decade ago, maybe more

my hands lost count of the calendar pages

and today I’m a top floor treehouse girl


My library fell away in chunks

with only 5 small boxes of books to brave these stairs

and damn, man, it was serious, 2020 has me in my 30s

with all my druthers I’d go back to 19 and tell me mean

“Don’t be a Luddite, Bunny, an online library is fine

books are obsolete baby, give your back a break.”



“Do not defile it with cliche. It is unnameable.” —Isabella Huppert, I Heart Huckabees


My second grade teacher was paralyzed from a stroke

around the time I went to college. My mom and I still visit sometimes.

Her husband diligently brings her what she demands:

Tea, a magazine, a gift for their guests. He lifts her from her chair.

She doesn’t want to do physical therapy, it hurts.

He is so patient, so so kind

Watching, I said to myself,

Yes, like that. 


My own folks, too, not to say they’re perfect

But they know how to handle each other

My mother stern and frazzled, my father

Always playful but always getting the job done

They fight, and they make up

They say things they don’t mean, but

They know how to say sorry.

So I learned a little more than most

Like that, yes, something like that


It doesn’t seem impossible, not when it’s all around you

But anyone can forget after too long on the wrong track

So I’m huddled under a blanket heaving

Hiding my eyes so I can uglycry with total freedom


But you don’t try to drag me out, you don’t try to dive in

You pile every stuffed animal we own

Gathering me up in a fluffy stuffie bundle hill

A group hug of mutual concern from our happy menagerie 


Some of those stuffies came from exes but you’re never been threatened

They are our family too 

They each have a special power that only you and I know

and I’m sobbing now but it switched and there are small giggles

I’m crying peaceful in a comfortable heap of my history. 

We’re adults however we want

and we’re here for whatever is needed

yes this, like this, just like this.



for Jenica Pembroke


Jenica said she’d never been on a plane and it broke my heart

I wanted to try and give her the pictures piece by piece

watching out the porthole window as the ground fades away

into a blue-green marble backdrop of our planet’s body

the illuminated curve, the clouds drifting beneath you

like standing on the bow of a steamer ship as the mists waft off the water


then the sun sets and beneath the clouds

all the wondrous caverns of treasure open to us

the winding lighted streets and houses

transformed into the richest undug mine

brimming with gold, with silver, with diamonds

sparkling beneath the metal wings of our impossible bird


no I was never scared, not even in turbulence

saner men than I have risked their mortality for beauty

cheating time the only high-minded dream of modern machinery

the abstraction of our entire world a simple accident

in the idiom of turning a bug into a feature

a picture’s worth eight hundred twenty-two more words than this


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