Kudzu

This is not the type of poem that I usually write – I tend to place value on connectedness and some sort of sense-making, in one form or another. This week, my professor challenged us to write a poem that was a series of images that were not related, or only had a loose connection to the stanzas around them. The result:

She calls her Mom long distance riding the 2 am train
to JFK: “I’d rather go broke in Europe than in this shithole”
steel squeals beneath her over the New York state line.

A boy in damp cotton socks stands in the creek bed
throwing round rocks upstream into the bubbling water.
Later he tells his friends that his father taught him how
to skip stones.

Too many bottles of apple juice
outnumber the scarce containers of juiced kale and coconut water
scavenged by jogger-clad housewives.

the contact between windshield and bald-capped bird
sends fissures spider webbing through the glass
and feathers streaming in through the rear windows.

Kudzu can completely cover an acre of land in as little as 6
months. it takes the plants beneath another three to give up.

I have been told that drowning only hurts until you
are water through and through.

 

 

 

 

 

Crows

His neck sat at an odd angle to his shoulders
the swollen fingers of arthritis
gripping at every moving part of him.

(She said she stopped wearing her wedding ring
because she was scared of losing it to the jaws of the
kitchen sink)

At the short end of the dining room table
his shirt sleeves trailed through the boxed mashed potatoes,
cornbread nested in his alabaster beard.

(They hadn’t slept together in months,
the yellow rings of sickness in his eyes
were their gold wedding bands)

We made excuses to look at our father
offered him wine even though he preferred bourbon
and delivered seconds though his plate went untouched.

(The strap of his oxygen mask made lines on his scalp
as he slept, she grated bits of her fingers into his
morning oatmeal)

We ground cheap steak between our teeth
pulling bits of gristle from under our tongues
while mother ate hers 10-second-seared and bloody
leaving a pile of bones for the crows.

Cusp

My face thaws in his bedroom
blown in beneath the front door
the momentum sent me tumbling up the stairs
hitting my nose on the cusp of each hardwood lip
frosty irises grind to a halt on his floor
the carpet sending friction-warmth into the shadows
of my cheeks
melting skin leaves me resting in a puddle
of snot and ice bits
I wait for him to crack a window,
the breeze catching my tongue like a sail.

Ice Cream

0 mg: I drive with an unbuckled
seatbelt, a rock weighted foot
licking the walls of the ice cream carton.

0 mg: practice headstands on the hardwood
floors, yoga for the thick-skulled
licking the walls of the ice cream carton.

30 mg: pages of wavering mandalas
a haze of disjointed neurosis
magnified, focused to a flame
rock weighted fingers and eyelids

30 mg: an unwavering sweet tooth
Tennessee backroads shaped like curling earthworms
a pint of gas station ice cream and a little
wooden spoon clicking against enamel
licking the walls of the ice cream carton

60 mg: the walls
licking the walls

 

 

Pieces

Piece #1: Girl

She hid it like a traveler hides cash.
The first piece tucked behind her molars
At 16 she hoped the dental surgeon
might mistake it for a little piece of wisdom
and cut it out, too.

Piece #2: Raped

She left one piece behind her right ear
just above the infinity symbol she got tattooed
drunk on her 21st birthday.
she didn’t like the symbolism sober.

Piece #3: By

One piece hung on the refrigerator in her apartment.
A drawing she did, age 5.
She held her parents hands, grinning
in a triangle dress
You can’t see bruises on stick-girl thighs.

Piece #4: Dad.

 

(This poem was inspired by an episode of House – inspiration comes in funny ways.)