Is It Any Wonder
I know time has passed because
My children are older. I refuse to acknowledge
The old woman in the mirror as me because
Not that much time has passed.
I know time has passed because
once there were tulips growing outside my door
and now there’s just snow. I know
time has passed because you don’t go from tulips to snow
I know time has passed because the last time
we spoke, news was something that happened
yesterday, and now when I think of you
there are just too many things I have to say
about time, the weather, my family
and the things about me that have changed.
I don’t know where to start.
When Jesus came to dinner
He was perfect. He complimented me
on my silverware pattern
although He didn’t seem to notice
I’d put the good china out.
Later, over coffee and cake
He’d admitted that He hadn’t been following politics too much
had been absorbed in tracking weather patterns
“If it’s on television, I probably
haven’t seen it,” He explained.
the man on the bus stop tells me
all about Armageddon
like it’s Christmas, or his birthday, something
beautiful and happy and
a reason to keep smoking
God will fix him in the end.
He offers me a cigarette because
it smells better than second-hand smoke
and I take it because it tastes better
than second-hand smoke. God
will cure us both of our addictions
in the end.
if I lose any more teeth I’ll have to
see a dentist. if I lose any more teeth
my husband will find out that I didn’t go
last year. The pointed nubs
in the corners of my mouth are easy
to hide—jagged half-teeth with yellowish cores
they’re just behind my dimples. I still look cute
because of those dimples, and so long
as I keep lancing the boils on my gums
I can still eat anything I want. But if I lose any more teeth
I will have to go to the dentist. one more toothache like the last
and I’ll probably die.
Justification for My Writer’s Block #3
somewhere in the Amazon
an old man with a pointed stick
is writing the second chapter of a novel
scrawling it into the dirt.
the first chapter is on my computer screen
cursor blinking steadily as I
admit defeat. I have only
this first chapter in me.
if the old man in the jungle is as angry as I am
that this unfinished novel, no beginning
came to him as this first chapter came to me
I wonder who will end up
with Chapter 3.
there were eventually too many miles between us
to let it die
where it fell.
ironically, because I didn’t kill it
and let it hobble, burdenless, behind me as we traveled
I had a superior traveling companion:
one that didn’t interrupt when I spoke
never said anything itself.
The Man in the House
There could be corpses buried beneath
the mounds of debris and trash in his back yard—the neighbors
can only wildly speculate. There could be
a fortune in knickknacks or baseball cards
stacked in dusty piles on shelves inside the house
but no one ever goes in
and no one ever comes out.
When a cat disappears from the neighborhood, children whisper
that the man in the house got it, that he eats cats. Sometimes, though,
a cat reappears on its owner’s doorstep
well-fed and clean, and then children whisper
that that is the cat that got away, that the man in the house
likes to fatten them up before he eats them.
I thought I saw him once, opening the front door just wide enough
to push aside the dead leaves accumulating on the stoop
but it was so quick
it might have been my imagination.
I did something awful last night.
I wake to find that the vampire has taken my lover
leaving neatly-typed suicide notes in its wake
a hole in each wrist where the blood was wrung out
leaving just enough behind to stick flesh to the rug
The body I clung to as vicious as dogs
sleeps in the corner and won’t wake up, I pray
I’m sane enough to explain to this to the police when they come
that they’re sane enough to believe me when I speak.
The Spider in the Windowsill
It’s tempting to just squish it outright but you should first
pull off a leg, then another. First an arachnid
then an arthropod then a quadruped then a biped. Does
the level of intelligence and/sophistication increase or decrease
with each removed limb? How about if you
put a hat on the tiny, flailing insect,
give it a cane, make it dance on its two remaining legs
as it fumbles its way to death?
What happens if you remove all the legs
from one side, but leave the other intact?
does it run around and around
in a circle like a cartoon character,
a teeny tiny motorcar? Now what happens
when you give it a hat, a cane,
from the first exercise?
I wake to find that the vampire
has done my laundry, and he has turned
everything pink. There are crumbled bits of bone
trapped in the wrinkles in my sheets
smooth and white like chunks of St. Petersburg marble.
He seems so proud of himself, that he’s done my laundry
all by himself
(and without me even asking!)
that I pretend to be pleased with my pink sheets,
my pink clothes. I wonder
what he put in the wash to make everything turn so pink—
a red sock, a potholder, a cat
I think about asking, but I
don’t want to know.