Jackalope

I became a rabbit:
soft and limber for the arrows—
a leaping, bending prey. My black pearl
eyes blind to my own blood

My breath matched the rhythm:
Nock. Release. Nock. Release.
pacing my heart
to your needs— it was easy.

But the trail of felled victims
tugged at me before sleep:
Here my buried voice, there my buried will.
I was complicit, complacent, completely
certain I could be palatable

No more. I’ve exhumed
and stitched back those shaken parts—
Antler, claw, tongue, and scale.
My will a jagged tusk, my voice a howl

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Being Alone

Where is your loneliness?

Not in the the perilous drama of a shipwreck—
drifting beyond deserted shores
Not in the cautious intent of space travel—
forever orbiting towards a sunrise

It’s in the cheap insulation of apartment walls,
the neighbours whose names you don’t know,
the checkmark in ✓Seen 11:45 pm, the sheepish
trips to the liquor store, the diplomatic voice
of a clerk asking for the money you owe

It’s in the stillness of highways before dawn,
the silence at the end of a book, the burst of wind
from slamming doors, and the knowing, that after everything
they’re gone.
It’s in your chest cavity, aching and ashamed

Feel that hot electric pang and build
that pain a cradle—give it a name
nurse it from fledgling flame to full-blown fire
let it radiate
Sooner or later, it will fade

Then the glow of coals will warm you
until you can reach out again: call a friend, get coffee,
paint, tell a joke, smile at strangers

We’re at our happiest when we risk another burn

Dining with Bigotry

Do you dread family dinners?
Does it make your jaw
clench, when someone passes potatoes
mid-bigoted-sentence?

What’s there to do when a relative spews
a gravyboat worth of hate
against certain immigrants?

Is it worth the dry turkey
to sit there ashamed, while your great aunt
blabbers on about homosexual campaigns?

Sure, you can offer your well-researched facts.
You might even do so with saint-like
tact. But if all else fails, feel free to leave:
Critical thought will provide more peace
of mind than would grudgingly passing the peas.

 

Resilience

I want to be your skin, repair
and renew your wounds, turn
cuts and sores from scab to shining
scar. I will soften the aurora
borealis blue starbursts
of bruises. Plot white lightning
stripes as you stretch. Move
from bubbling blister to callus.
I will freckle in the sunlight
and ignite pink blush
under the gaze of strangers
My tacit intent is to protect,
for you I am elastic

Stranger

I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
“To a Stranger”, Walt Whitman

You sit, scribbling on a napkin
halfway across the café. Sipping
steaming cups of cappuccino
with maraschino lips. I know
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone

From your bag comes every book
I’ve cradled in the bath and treasured
on my nightstand. They have been written
for our conversations, and yet
I am to wait —I do not doubt I am to meet you again

Finally you rise. The buttoning
of your coat precedes the forward
scraping of your chair. We share a glance
before you find the door and step through.
I am to see to it that I do not lose you