God Made

A woman’s body is not

A sacred temple

It is not a

Or a beautiful mountain range of curves

But it is God’s work

God made that body the way it is

And within that body God put

The woman

The Lord did not give that body

To a man

Because He made that body

For the woman

God made atoms, too

And God made acorns

And saplings

And trees

And cells

But He did not say that a tree and a sapling were the same

Nor a sapling and a tree

If a sapling were a tree

We Would Call It That

One cell, two cells,

Three cells, whose cells?

This bundle of atoms is Not A Baby

And the heart that beats

Beats with a woman’s blood

Not a child’s

Did you hear me?

Are we loud enough yet?

God’s breath is in our lungs

(Not our uterus)

God’s breath leaves no work undone.

Touch Land

When she walked into my life
She walked with purpose and poise
Her tongue was like a knife
And it cut through all the noise
Drowned out all the static
Took me up to the attic
And threw me out the window

I landed on a boat with a broken arm
She cut the grounding rope and said she’d do me no harm
Though I could hardly see the shore once were out at sea
I swore I saw my family, calling to me

I learned to be a sailor with a thicker skin
Who braved great storms and greater sin
But one thing I couldn’t drive from my head
Was that when I next touched land, I’d surely be dead

She held me on our ship so long I closed my eyes
And when I did, my whole life was my own design
In my head I couldn’t feel the chains on my wrists
Or the sting on my cheek where her fingernails hit

One day I closed my eyes so hard that I saw stars
And I saw a ship that was mine, not ours
So my heart told me that I should sail way up high
And in my very own ship, I reached the sky

The clouds are much more solid than they seem
And if you close your eyes too long, maybe it isn’t really a dream.


This is what it must feel like to be at peace
Washing dirt out from under my nails and
Wearing a sundress
Waiting patiently for seeds to sprout and
Watching the sky blur around me

Blinking in the spring heat, I think
That fall is loss
And winter is bitter
And summer is just plain chaos
But right now the world is coming to life around me
Not bursting
Not dragging
Just moving in step with the rest of the world for once

Spring is singing
And the rigidity of winter has ceased
My ears are ringing
But I think right now I’m at peace


There was no ginger in the cupboard. It didn’t come as a surprise because, come to think of it, I wasn’t sure that ginger was sold crushed in bottles like nutmeg or cinnamon, but it was disappointing. The lukewarm water in my mug hadn’t been hot enough to really steep the tea bag, so it tasted more like water than anything. In acceptance of the absence of ginger in the pantry, I settled for a meager drop of honey, so as not to overpower what little flavor the bag had succeeded in instilling. I tried not to make the way it settled at the bottom, unmoving, ineffective, any sort of metaphor. Instead, I picked up the mug and took as sip, seeking the nonexistent comfort a hot cup of tea had promised from my mug of tangy water.
Everything’s a metaphor, I remember telling someone once, eyes bright, heart racing, having just read a striking poem, and maybe it is. Maybe the honey does reflect my limp hair, my pale eyes, my arms, trembling at the thought of stirring the nectar in with a spoon. But that drop of honey has no control; it can’t stir itself, and I’m sure that if I put in any effort, I could change my surroundings. However, I’m painfully aware that there’s a clear distinction between power and strength, and I know that they drive each other, and there’s a sinking feeling brought on by the knowledge that somewhere in me, that connection is lost. How can it be that in a world of is and isn’t, in a sea of black and white, on a channel of yes and no, everything is might be and grey and maybe?
And the only comfort that I’ve found in my cup of tea, I realize with a tired smile, is the hollow memory of a metaphorical perspective. The honey at the bottom of the mug is gone when I check, and maybe that’s another metaphor altogether.


Sometimes I feel like everything’s wrong
Like someone snuck into my house at night
And moved the couches one inch to the right
Or took the commas out of everything I write
Or put a minor greyscale filter on my sight
Sometimes I feel like my sense of direction is gone.

Other days, I wonder if I have a fever
Like I’m too cold, but my skin is too hot
And my head is buzzing with nonsense thoughts
Or my tendons might snap, they’re so taut
Or I look in the mirror and see someone I’m not
Other days, I wonder if I’m about to meet the reaper.

On good days, my mind is strangely clear
Like I can count past one hundred without stumbling
And a steady step will never send me tumbling
Or I can catch a ball without fumbling
Or remove a brick without the walls crumbling
On good days, I don’t feel underwater when I hear.

Every day, it’s a guessing game
Like Russian roulette in my brain
But I know that living tomorrow is the only way
To find out what the next day will be.

Rest In Peace

Clara had been happy with her life for nearly seventy years. She’d spent her time doing good things, doing all of the right things, and now, suddenly, there was a world of missed opportunities before her. She would never, ever, get the chance to know them now. Clara’s skin ached for the feel of a sea that she’d never touched, her eyes strained to know the sunsets that she’d been to busy for, and her tongue watered suddenly at the unfamiliar idea of authentic escargot.
Even as her breath came more quickly, less satisfyingly, a gust of air filtered in.
“Mom,” Clara’s mind registered that there should be face attached to that voice, but she wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t see it. Instead, she closed her useless eyes and remembered.
Tiny pink hands reached up to grab her greasy new-mother hair, brown and messy, not grey and wispy like Clara felt it should be.
Watery green eyes stared into her own, begging not to be forced onto the school bus. Clara watched young, strong, hands pass her daughter off to the bus driver, and she wondered if she would be able to lift a child like that now.
A dry voice informed Clara that her daughter was in jail for shoplifting, and the deepest disappointment of her life weighed heavily in her chest again.
“I love you, Mom,” she was choking on her own throat, by the sound of it.
A lifetime ago, Clara filled up on the irreplaceable scent of her mother’s neck. “I love you, Clara.”
Three quarters of a life ago, Clara stared into lying eyes and believed every word that came out of the matching mouth. “I love you, Clara.”
Half of a life ago, Howard’s smooth voice sang along to the song that had played as she walked down the aisle, just moments after the night of concentrated passion that had followed, and he switched out the last words with, “I love you, Clara.”
“Stay strong, mama,” her daughter’s voice sounded alien, and Clara wondered how long it would last.
Clara could barely see her mother’s floating face through her tears, but when she looked down, she could clearly see the red splattering on the sidewalk from her knee. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Clara should’ve known better than to put her faith in someone so untrustworthy, and it was her fault that she was sobbing on the couch now, but her sister didn’t seem to care. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Everything was black and frosted thick with pity; Howard’s glassy eyes stared past her for the last time, and the hand on her shoulder was all that kept her up. “Stay strong, Clara.”
“I’ll see you soon, mom,” Her daughter tells her, and Clara wants so badly to tell her that that had better not be true. Instead, she wheezes and spit clings to her chin. She settled for opening her heavy eyelids to give the illusion of staring into her daughter eyes. She wonders if she’s looking in the right direction, but she knows she is when a warm hand encases her papery fingers.
“Goodbye, mama.”
Clara forfeits her last breath in favor of pressing all of the love in her life into her daughter’s palm. Her skin is so young, so soft, that it absorbs all of the Looks and Smells and Feelings and I Love Yous and the Stay Strongs with little effort.
She didn’t need ocean water, or scenic nature, or expensive food. Without any of that, she rests in peace.

Sidney Times Two

I live two very different lives
Sunday through Wednesday
And Thursday through Saturday

I live my lives in two very different houses
And they look different, and they smell different
But I get to come home twice a week

I have three whole families
Two little ones and a big one
And all three are different shapes and sizes

I have two different schedules
And two different senses of humor
And two different personalities
And two different beds, and dressers, and toothbrushes

I have three families, two houses, and two very different lives
And I’m the luckiest person on Earth times two
Because some love might look and smell different
But it all feels the same.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Applause rings through the room like gunshots, ricocheting off of the invisible but indubitably solid walls, hitting arms and chests and heads. People scream, but they laugh, too, and there are even a few people crying. And nearly every person in the darkness, if they were asked, would say that they want to be there, and nearly every person in this room tonight is willing to become a liar. Behind every clap is a clap of proverbial thunder, and it’s common knowledge what accompanies thunder.
The applause dies down and the people are waiting,
Finally, the poet speaks, asks the question that they’ve all been dreading.
“Are we all having fun tonight?”
The people aren’t poets, and they can’t speak, so again, they scream and cry laugh and clap, clap, clap.
“Fantastic,” the voice is velvet rubbed the wrong way, scraping people’s ears.
“Alice,” Alice is the crier, somewhere near the back right corner,
“Dad’s not home,
But neither are you,
And you’re mom,
You’re made to live for two,
Dad tells you it’s your job,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, laughter, gunshot applause, and wrenching sobs.
“Marty,” Marty’s laughing, but his tears look just like Alice’s,
“Your roommate’s dead,
You almost are, too,
And you can’t stop,
Your world is crushing you,
Trust me, you’re not on top,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, wrenching sobs, gunshot applause, and hysterical laughter.
“Sophie,” Sophie screams,
“Your parents aren’t home,
They haven’t texted,
And they promised they would,
Especially when you get arrested,
You haven’t called them, you know you should,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Wrenching sobs, hysterical laughter, gunshot applause, and sickening screams.
“This cacophony of noise is agony by choice,
And you’re all cowards,” the poet’s mouth is too close to the microphone,
“Go home,
Or as close as you can get,
You’re like dogs with cones,
Like you’ve just been snipped.
I don’t recognize one face in this crowd,
Though, ladies and gentlemen, I can see in the dark.
You’re all too loud,
Too ready to spark,
Ladies and gentlemen,” the poet pauses, but nobody claps, there’s more, and the tension builds,
“Wake up.”

El Espejo

Sara despertó durante las horas más oscuras de la noche, entre las dos y las cuatro, con un grito atrapado entre los dientes. Los detalles de un sueño extraño y escalofriante escaparon de su mente como agua deslizándose entre los dedos. Sara lanzó una mirada rápida alrededor del cuarto, insegura de qué esperaba encontrar; ni sonido, ni luz, ni persona atrevía a romper el silencio de la oscuridad profunda. Con una irrompible manta de inquietud en los hombros, Sara sacudió la cabeza para limpiar los recuerdos de la pesadilla y salió de la cama.
Sus pies descalzos hicieron un crujido familiar al hacer contacto con la madera del piso. Sara caminó lentamente hacía la cocina, donde llenó un vaso con agua y se apoyó contra la mesa del comedor. Sólo ha sido una pesadilla, Sara aseguró a si mismo, pero justo en este momento, un movimiento a su derecha la sobresaltó tanto que su vaso echó por el suelo. Otra vez buscó algo en el cuarto, y otra vez no encontró nada. Sara respiró profundamente y tomó una toalla de la mesa para limpiar el vidrio del piso. Agachado en el suelo, podía ver su reflexión en los fragmentos dispersados por el suelo, pero de repente tambaleó hacia atrás.
Con el corazón latiendo como tambor en su pecho, Sara volteó para enfrentar la criatura horrorosa que había visto en el vidrio, pero no esperaba verla tan cerca.
Una cara estaba casi tan cerca que su nariz la tocaba. Sara sentía que sus pies estaban pegados al suelo. Su cerebro le gritaba que debería correr, esconderse, llamar la policia, pero algo la prevenía de hacerlo. Había una familiaridad morbosa en la cara sin forma; Sara tenía un sentido fuerte de déjà vu. Como si estuviera afuera mirando su propio cuerpo moviéndose, Sara vio su mano se extenderse para tocar esta cara tan repulsiva.
El tiempo se suspendió el momento que tocó la piel de la criatura, y Sara tenía la sensación inescapable de que ya no estaba en casa. No recordaba cerrar los ojos, pero estaban cerrados, y cuando Sara finalmente reunió la valentía para abrirlos, estaba enfrentado con una escena más hermoso y más horrible que jamás podría imaginar.
El cuarto estaba vacío con la excepción de un espejo con el imagen de una criatura sin forma.

The Monster

Ruby has stepped foot in a church exactly one time before today. She remembers the scratch of lace at her ankles and her wrists. She remembers her grandmother’s weathered face, solemn and intent on her prayer. She remembers the judgmental eyes of statues cold on the back of her neck when she bowed her head. That year hadn’t felt like Christmas, she recalled.

Today, she feels much the same. The door is a gaping mouth, opening wide to swallow her whole, and she steps in willingly. Ruby isn’t seven anymore, and she fears more than anything that this Monster will spit her out, but the first stone step may be the solidest thing she’s felt in years. The monster exhales a gust of air before it swallows Ruby Peters, and she finds that it’s warmer than the arms of her Someone Back Home. She finds herself relying on the Monster’s breath to fill her lungs all through the service; Ruby seems to have lost her own to the revelation that Georgia’s arms have become so cold. It takes hours of warmth and solidity for her to regain her breath, and only then does she stand up from the pew at the back of the chapel.

Leaning against the flank of the monster, Ruby pulls out her cell phone and dials an distantly familiar number.

“Hey, Mom?” the Monster applies an equal and opposite pressure on her shoulder blades, “I need to come home.”

The silence on the other end of the line is petrifying only momentarily, and then Mrs. Peters’ voice crackles back.

“Okay, baby. I’ll set up the couch and make you some tea. We’ll talk.”

“Yeah,” Ruby echoes, “let’s talk.”

Ruby’s car seems to autopilot to Georgia’s house, and her mouth still speaks the Monster’s words when she breaks the news.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m suffocating here, Georgia.” Ruby waves off a tearful interruption with an abstract goodbye: “I need to be where I can breathe.”

The torn brown box is overflowing with her things, with bras, and a toothbrush, and a hairdryer, when she rescues it and drop it into the safety of the backseat.

Any doubts that she feels are quickly dispelled by an unexpected breeze at the back of Ruby’s neck. She’ll never forget how the sound of her tires on asphalt today emulate the screams, breaking glass, the hollow apologies that have little by little replaced Georgia. In fact, every sound registers differently today; the world sounds softer in the wake of the Monster.

Ruby’s mom has lived here forever, and Ruby knows just how to step so that she doesn’t step on the sidewalk cracks heading inside. As promised, Ruby sips tea, and she talks to her mother.

The feeling that here’s far more than familiarity to this comfort keeps her sane until she feels the Monster’s breath again one week later.

There’s no lace on her dress this time, because it’s borrowed, and the statues’ eyes feel so warm this time, but when Ruby glances sideways during prayer, her mother’s face has adopted so many of the lines and wrinkles that left with Grandmother. Ruby breathes in another breath of the Monster, and this time, she doesn’t let it out.