Poet Feature - October 2020
My background is in graphic design and I’ve long had the goal of being a “literary designer” (someone who both designs books and writes them.) I have always found invented worlds necessary to living well in the real one.
I belong in California (specifically the Bay Area, where I was born) but grew up in Arizona.
I’ve always kept secret notebooks, but it was during a time of personal crisis about two years ago that poems started keeping me up at night, wanting to be written. It’s only during this pandemic, about four months into lockdown, that I felt fully ready to devote consistent time to the work and start putting it out there.
As I tell my kids when they giggle about naked statues, “Art is a free space.” Writing launches me toward the realm of unknown freedoms that I’ve always suspected was real. It lifts me out of my fearful little self and puts me back with extra oxygen. Writing has become an available frequency on which to answer back to everything that energizes me.
My deepest attachment is to Adrienne Rich. Her work is endlessly nourishing and unsettling and I admire so much of how she focused her life. Other favorites are Patti Smith, Ada Limon, Ocean Vuong, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Audre Lorde and Mary Oliver. And while she's technically a prose writer, I adore the poetry of Jeannette Winterson.
of a voice rescinded
she meant to dance but
has only succeeded in
convince her that this grand sham
hasn’t shaved the sides clean off her life
convince her this violence was necessary
because beneath the drape
she wasn’t fit
she shakes when she
she eats when she
she falls into walls
they ought to shake
Keep building cells until the honey comes
Each breath a grain of pollen
parcels of air used and relinquished
Small, dry and insignificant
But gather them, keep gathering
What is offered may be only in the tiniest of vessels
But gather it
Be available for honey
Impatient questions, six sided, amass
Cavities of doubt
Lungs stiffening with hollows
Where spent beliefs went unreplaced
Maybe in the end a drop will find your tongue
Flooding the last second with golden yes
And I took my children there
to see what the river had done.
How many shades
can the body of a mother conceal?
When her silver voice opened her chest
and escaped north
no ear survived the process
for eons passed,
her breath the only constant
as generations scarcely formed
fell into dust
dispersed on the wind of her singing
swept clear by her singing
and secreted back
into her opulent red folds.
She has many voices, none of which
Where did you wander when there were no doors?
On legs of shadow you moved
to remain in existence.
You circled the gardens from outside,
howling your primitive odes
to a clotting moon, still bleeding light.
You left offerings of thorn that may alert me to my
skin, its perpetual infancy.
I was always being born without knowing
how I’d catch myself.
I was always seeking an axe to clear for you,
to cleave my heart and there you’d be,
startled but unharmed.
Axebright moon, your subtle and silversweet edge
let me in,
to begin the long night of unwinding,
untraveling old lengths.
Oakland, CA – September 2020
parked cars all wood-cloaked
from ghost forest dusting down
unbreathable evening hangs all day
rings of newspaper stack and stop mattering
we are idling, the numbers mount
monitor the levels if you want a line to climb
a stiff horizon to keep sight of
I’m averting my gaze
from the slowest wreck
slowing as it escalates
compression and small fractures
relieving the strain as the climax refuses to arrive
screeching halt with long sustain
this isn’t a catastrophe I’ve entertained, rehearsed
(collapsing beams, arrested heart, loose bullet, snapping bridge)
but a horror so banal it can be strolled through
with a masked yawn, on a coffee run
words cling to each other, trudging on despite the blinding gaps
left there together in a ghost forest
by someone whose life wanted to surpass
its one container, to attempt extraction from the slow crash
speak of the door in the grass and I start to slide out
the bloodless old system is wheezing, maybe it’s terminal
but won’t succumb without the highest misery it can conjure to share
can’t cram it down the disposal without risking an arm
it won’t admit to the swallowing of us
along with everything else that was warm
might call the number cursed but it is sure
to pass its problems to the next one
here we’ll be, still captive to rank, each layer
formed by pressing those below
somehow the pressure is a drug
a calming vise
speak of the brain wider than sky and I
start to slide out
the vacant lots in town are its best places
if you can see the beauty in a scrapped plan
blonde bursts of grass in ruptured gray
defeated asphalt where field mice plot subdivisions
under hawk surveillance
and my children want fence cutters
because there is no threat of humans there