(Day 1)

when i slough off my skin i find
i am still wearing the sequin dress
from new years eve. somehow
it has not wrinkled. my wrists
are too stiff to bend. i look
wrapped in aluminum foil.
i tell myself once, it looked sexy.
once you were fish scales and
metal. once your back arched a question
and your pockets were always full
of quarters. there’s lipstick under your
eye no you can’t wipe that off no
say your face is full of kisses no
some things do not come
off with soap and water.

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Exercise: “pink reveals important dating advice she gave daughter willow”

After the New York School/Frank O’Hara, we had to write a poem in 15 minutes based on a headline our poetry professor gave us. This is mine.

i can’t remember who pink is
when i see the headline, let alone
her daughter. “willow” i thought that kid
belonged already to another celebrity
do they exchange kids every couple years
i know nothing about how these people
live. five minutes and a hundred posts
on facebook later, i begin to remember:
breakup songs, party songs, songs about
using liquor and your body to get back
at whatever man screwed you over.
seems like a good authority on dating advice.
“I guess I just lost my husband
I don’t know where he went
so i’m gonna drink my money
I’m not gonna pay his rent”
yes, Pink, yes. you know your way around
a healthy relationship. were you trying to give
your daughter advice or the readers
of E entertainment because if you were talking
to your daughter I hope you said something about
how the body is bad at storing revenge softness is ok
but if you were talking to the internet, to the people
with their fingers in their mouths, waiting —
I hope the headline link leads
to an error page.

for a year

we sit on the sofa her mother gave her
and smoke until one of us laughs into the bong,
sends water and weed across the faux leather.

i want to say you look like someone i kissed
everyday for a year everyday
with an unbrushed tongue.

instead i do not kiss her, instead i keep
the whole couch between us, sitting
with my legs parted at the knees.

self-cento (i keep an aquarium inside me)

the older girls talk about touching themselves
keep your nails short keep your fingers
together keep your knees

where you keep all the pretty things,
all the breathing things you know
your body can make

space for orchids and women’s work
and a tongue like a trowel too dull
for digging deep enough

to see how you let it get this bad,
how you ate nothing
but canned tuna and celery until your teeth

made piles in your palms and
your body got so small it
could be bundled out with the dirty sheets

how no one will kiss you with their mouths
open with their eyes open with
honey on your skin, waiting

for the flies to discover you,
for your laugh to become a bulb
burning out, for the

koi to do laps of your stomach,
scales the color of ripe fruit
it is a dark place for such beautiful fish.

thanksgiving

 

his parents want to know what about me
they should tell their friends. i am not sure how
the details will be translated. i write poetry into
our son’s girlfriend doesn’t know what she
wants to do with her life yet. 

i spend thanksgiving morning with my head
resting on the oven’s top rack, hands cooked
blistering. skin parting from muscle like
baked sweet potatoes: easier to peel.
his dad tells me i’ve been incredibly helpful.

when we sit down for the early evening meal
grandmother asks me what kind of poetry i write.
i tell her i like poems about sex: how it’s never
really all soft or all hard, how her grandson
rubs his thumbs over me like polishing a stone but
would rather rip a bra than learn to unhook it.
she nods, dabs twice at the tight corners of her mouth.