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

Anna

*This poem first appeared in the 2013 edition of the literary magazine, Portal.

 
You seek the company of
flora over fauna.
You flourish while being
rooted through earth and blood
back to
China.

You curate a grove
of potted plants–
hyacinth and mint,
and compost ruby skins
of dried pomegranate peels.

You were shucked
as a child.
Being maimed so young
left you raw,
but you were ripe enough
to nurture a camera,
bright enough to understand
techniques and keep your composure,
but the exposure of your wounds
made you wilt, and withdraw.

The illness slid out–
a serpent that took
hold of your mouth
with its jaw.
And you spoke of angels,
childhood friends,
patterns and fractals,
lines on a leaf.

You spoke of waking
up on the ground,
pounding your heels,
pleading to be
reclaimed.

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.

 

Rejection

The following is a found poem. It uses only words received in various rejection letters. 

We thank you for your interest.
We appreciate it.
And we know it sucks. (another rejection.)
unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately,
We’re going to have to pass.
You aren’t quite right.
You don’t meet our needs.
You aren’t really the right

fit.

But good luck in the future. And thanks.

A Villanelle for Creativity Rituals

Go percolate a fresh pot
And prepare yourself to think
This is yours: decide the plot

Inhale the swirling steam, hot
The cups and spoons clink
Go percolate a fresh pot

Are your pencils ready to jot?
And your pens full of ink?
This is yours: you decide the plot

Pour the sugar — a little, a lot
Until it’s sweet enough to drink
Go percolate a fresh pot

What’s scribbled? What have you got?
Are you finished? On the brink?
This is yours: you decide the plot

Now start over on the spot
Toss the old coffee in the sink
Go percolate a fresh pot
This is yours: you decide the plot

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

Settle

stare from window sill at streets
made narrow, strangled by the jagged
angles — concrete towers stab
through cloud or cloak of smog

they rise as you rise
from itchy bare mattress
(cheap sheets forgotten
at a former address)

wade through clutter
shudder at the boxes
that tower from the floor
push past, find the door

outside the boulevard is black
from rain. stand, soaked
shrug off that you heard
the sound of your name