so fast so quietly

we are tearing the black sheet
of the land with our headlights.
traveling this fast should make
more noise. how are we allowed
to escape so fast so quietly?
it is my favorite way to feel good.
the music must be playing it’s always
playing in moments like this but
i rarely remember. it’s just sound
until it isn’t — then it’s a song an old
lover used to sing or one the new
love sings and suddenly i miss
feeling lonely. i want to wake up
back seat of the car / gas station
parking lot / marveling about how
cold the desert gets at night.
maybe what i really miss: being allowed
to feel lonely. i am tired
of knowing who makes me coffee,
tired of forgetting to water plants only
long enough to keep them teetering
on the edge of death. i wish i was less
reliable. sometimes i wish i was the girl
you fucked instead of loving me. she got you
for one splendid minute and now can wake up
anywhere. she has never folded
your laundry or made a pbj when too drunk
to hold even a butter knife. that’s really
what this is about — this stupid thing
i remember into existence every morning.
one day i want to feel okay standing still,
in a small space i can’t leave. why does
this city feel like a box? i wish at least
it was the inside of a suitcase. the space within
the headlights shrinks. i turn on the high
beams and decide to starve the houseplants.

Advertisements

kudzu canyons

last time i drove home the kudzu
was still south of Louisville, flanking
the highway like towering green
soldiers shoulder to shoulder, the road
the floor of a canyon. i’ve been told
it grows an inch a day or two
feet in a week but i bet it could cover
a sleeping woman in a night. you
would think this stretch of highway
was my favorite by how many
times i’ve driven it. the first dozen
i loved watching the vines
on their slow march north, loved
the names of indiana’s most exotic
towns: tippecanoe, prophetstown.
lebanon. this time the kudzu is nearly
to Cincinnati. there’s no taking back
the south now. it’s important to know
when to let something go under,
when there’s nothing to salvage.
what would we even be trying to save?
this will all seem better in a hundred years,
behind panes of glass wiped smooth.
history has a way of making everything
worth looking at again. i say let it all
be swallowed, give someone else
the joy of discovery. i stop at a gas station
outside of farmer city, a real place,
and i am kind to the woman behind the counter.
it is the first time i am soft in weeks.
given enough time, the south
can snarl anyone. sometimes it’s easier
to be kind to strangers. i am driving
again, from one home to another
separated by land quilted with corn,
wheat, alfalfa. how many homes can one
person claim? it is also easier to be cruel
to strangers. how long until the kudzu
covers them all?

distance

i wish your love did not feel as far
away as you are. i am no good
at distance. i am the same size
as my body when it is with yours but
feel smaller. it is amazing how
4,000 miles away everything
becomes you. two boys throw a frisbee
in a field. i order peanut butter ice cream
& mouth warm it. all of the parks
have ping pong tables. a man on the train
has stolen your skin, hair but forgotten
to take the rest. still, i try to touch him
just a little. it is not enough
but it must be. the days are easy. i am full
with the newness. at night i eat dinner
alone with a beer like melted caramel, walk
home like i am trying to find anything
except my bed. a man stands outside
an apartment building with an armful
of flowers in a way you never have, but still
i put his jacket over your shoulders.

(Day 3)

this city rises like a mole beneath my fingers.
when i scratch, it bleeds and stays scab

for weeks. this is the universe’s way of telling
me i have been in one place too long.
i have never been good at staying

put. i was made a wheel. or maybe
a wing. my mother tells me if you scratch
a mole too much it becomes cancer. i inspect

the scabs suspiciously. each one looks
like the back of a beetle.

holes in the earth (rewrite)

Cambodia swallowed him like a pill
washed him down with ocean water –
mixed with sticky Khmer noodles,
Amok and curried vegetables hot
as equator sun – settled in the country’s
great belly, and some days still
it was hard to stomach him.

two months in the jungle country
in a one room apartment
with a woman, skin like split lychee
he peels fruit with his hands and
next day she is back for more.

six months of stripped fruit flesh and
she tells him, you fed me so much mango
i am growing one inside me.
his knees buckle beneath palm wine,
he climbs out of his skin
to bear the summer heat.

they drink cool broth from yesterday’s
noodle soup, lick salt from upper lips.
papaya skins the size of a baby
pile up in the sink.

poet-tongue

Cambodia swallowed him like a pill
washed with water saturated in salt.
he mixed with sticky Khmer noodles,
Amok and curried vegetables hot as equator sun –
some days it is hard to keep him down.

a jungle-country, he teaches children english
(his poet tongue surely curling like smoke)
dropping seed like fruit trees until survival
seeps from his pregnant woman’s breasts.

knees bent beneath palm wine, claims
alcohol beneath his skin makes the heat bearable.
will the child have veins already split
from sun or pills, can breast milk feed
a family of three?