Harper Lee is penning a new great American novel
and all I can manage each day is scooping peanut butter
into grapefruit halves because we’re out of clean bowls
& write poems about how writing poems about
the people you love sucks
when everything you submit to lit magazines
only lets them down.
Harper Lee has Scout and Scout has her father
but sometimes all I have
is the man who once counted the knots in my hair
like an abacus and said he’d rather leave my poems
than my bed.
Harper Lee is penning a new great American novel
The most overused word in English poetry is ghost
but I’ve already used it once so far in this poem,
thousands of times in this life of mine,
an exit wound that never follows its own advice.
So I refer to all my hookups in past tense,
like hey there are those spirits I made out with once,
there’s that poltergeist who ground my hips
down to bone in a dark alleyway.
They say over a thousand men
have claimed to be Ethan Patz
every year since he went missing;
makes you wonder if that boy you kissed
a few weeks ago at the neighbor’s party
was him – teeth, body, & all.
flash extols a warning
an act of mercy
I cannot forgive the dog
for abandoning us
took his mind
to a quieter place
whole life summarized as “half of a banana left in the fridge
for two days; a little brown but i’ll still eat it”
whole life spent pouring Kix on the kitchen floor and watch-
ing them race for the dishwasher
whole life carefully observing body language
whole life saying, “I mean, either way”
whole life imagining clipping my toenails in your bedroom
and not putting them in the garbage
whole life: “can you not”
whole life hovering over an imaginary life superimposed
and duct-taped onto what I’ve referred to as the
whole life chasing ants out of the bathtub
whole life in a couch stain the exact shape of
my first grade teacher
whole life trying to convince you i’m actually
actual and you are the hero-monster
in my dream please don’t kill me
to dream about a person and hope
she dreams about you or at least cyberstalks you
daily so that your profile pic flashes in that liquid
space between her closed eyes and falling asleep
with all the weird floating things
like i will never
be able to talk to you
in a serious voice for more than three
lines but we can speak in the swimming pool:
you ask questions and i duck
hide in the deep end with ghosts
to draw uneven hot pink polka dots on top of aqua aqua
all around me like this is just an enlarged ms paint file on the comp
at nancy’s house in 1998 we’re so small
we’re so excited
we’re about to make a new one
but first save as
I am eating Nutella in bed.
I am reading messages from men OkCupid.
I am not responding to them because in this poem,
playing hard to get online is easier than IRL but it’s still good practice.
I am taking photos of myself using my Macbook webcam and I am
adjusting their contrast in Photoshop.
I am telling myself it is not narcissistic to place my body in a poem
seeing as this is the only body I have.
I am drawing diagrams in my head of all the emotions I have felt today.
I draw my emotional body. It seeps into the carpet.
I am color coding instinctual responses and habitual behavioral patterns
and filing them into folders entitled ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘maybe’ and ‘stop’
Before I was writing this poem, I had saved a photo of a person I miss
to my desktop.
I am looking at the person in the photo and this person is looking at me too.
We are making eye contact and in this poem it is not uncomfortable.
I refuse to be the first to look away so we do this until the battery dies.
I am lying on my back and looking at shapes and indentations in the ceiling.
In a poem I used to be a child in a national park with very Big Trees.
In a poem I was four years old and I bathed with my mother.
In a poem there are only blue things.
In this poem I do not live alone. I fling the doors open.
I remember how you are when your body is in front of mine.
I reconstruct you to be how you were when you existed near me.
After I write this poem, I will zoom in until you are not a person anymore, but
blocks of color like
melon and dirt
I played Barbie’s on my bed with friends named Eileen and Jolene.
An age of innocence and monsters underneath.
Singing along to a Mentos commercial
In a full moon
we started smoking cigarettes talking about
French kissing and sex.
Once upon a dream a boy came along
we started to watch a movie on a vcr
it was five minutes in and he put his hand
on my leg and everything in me caught fire
I lost nothing between my sheets
Even though I thought I was supposed to
was I woman now? Was I woman before?
I don’t know me. I don’t understand.
I wrote XO on his forehead when he told me he loved me
it was around the time
I started shedding my skin
biting down on my clothes to
keep from screaming wasn’t enough anymore
In the mirror that’s not me, she’s not me
why am I disappearing in everything
and it got worse
I couldn’t hide it
and everyone started to see me
Now once a week
my sister pours water on me
she said flowers will sprout
all over me and I won’t feel sad anymore
but I dissolve into my mattress
and my mother comes in everyday
asks if I’m okay and says you are my sunshine
and hopes I start to sing like I always did.
God bites the girl on her inner thigh
So She fish hooks him through his cheek
as she brings him closer
drops of blood fall on her body
Are you afraid? she asks
Because I’m not even close