son of immigrants
embraces the light
in the mirror
is staring at the dirt on my nose.
i lift my arm to wipe the dust
off its face.
it laughs and coughs
into my lungs where its particles
shred into tiny threads
the little heart I borrowed
from the sun when gods melted gold
and wove them into a mass of blackness
floating on all seas and oceans of the universe.
we’re all living on borrowed time.
earth must bend its ways to let us flow
in its streets crowded with bows and arrows
travelling through the flesh of our souls
as we bend on our knees to let monsters
know we’re choking.
an orphan envelope’s
having been written into existence, i realize something important
i am not a character. no, not even in your capable hands. i am not a vessel for organized, appropriated feelings. i just want to sit here and pet the dog. i am not an emotional arc. do not chart and log my changes. i will not be surprised at the end of act two. i just want to listen to fire alarms going off in other people’s apartments. i will not escape in the nick of time. i will have no redemption and refuse to learn a lesson. i just want the plant on the windowsill to live even though it doesn’t get enough sun. i am not going to save the world. please don’t ask me to. i am not a facsimile of a memory of a person you used to know.
how does one
pull out knives embedded
along their spine
ask your ancestors
if they need your permission
to spark a fire
Was It Just Too Hard to Stop?
Our desire for comfort exponentially multiplied the law of unexpected consequences.
soot from fires
fifty miles away
on the front step railing
a friend hopes
she doesn't become a grandma
Science couldn't help us. The drug to curb our addiction to convenience had limited efficacy in repeated trials.
my grandmother never spoke
of the pogroms
so many ways
Range of Shelter in Place
The Range of Shelter in Place is commonly referred to as the “Sanguines,” though the origin of this is uncertain. Most likely it is a color reference; the prevalence of iron oxide in the groundwater makes area puddles & beaver ponds red-brown with rust.
It must have been home once, for a time. For some. The ruins of old homesteads litter the trail—none closer than a league apart, for the Sanguines above all articulate the imperative of distance.
Cellar holes. Moss-worn walls of stone. Broken carriage harness. Bits of tools of unknown purpose. Chipped china.
Sanguine is a pigment but also a mood: blithe. Cheerful. Optimistic—not the first words to come to mind. In summer, the air is viscous with black flies, a constant, needling bite. & in winter—
Two centuries back, a rebel army sent an advance guard through the Sanguines en route to Harding Pass. A mountain campaign is never wise in winter—poor roads, limited food supply. Imagine the cold. The impassable snow. Sacrifice of toes, fingers, flesh of the face. Clothes frozen to the torso from the crossing of chest-high rivers. All the horses dead, hypothermic or starved. Imagine the wind. The wolves. The long dark.
Iva Linwood wrote in her diary of the homesteaders’ long confinement—of a snowbound shelter suffused with dread. “It is the dread of laps,” she wrote. “Of strangers you have been told to call uncle.
“It is the dread of enemies whose bodies remain unfound.”