In the unkindness of the mirror, I think I want to kill myself but instead decide to dye my hair

Because our hearts weren’t
big enough to be wombs, we worked
on making them hard
enough to be fists : weapons
to strangle our ghosts,

the ones we thought
we had left in the last life,
or at the bar, or sunk
straightjacketed
brick-to-pedal
in the bed of the James.

but we didn’t leave them :
we carried them; being
ghosts, they weighed
so little we could pretend
we didn’t mind. and maybe

we didn’t– because maybe
we half wished
to become ghosts ourselves,
see the air squeeze
from our bodies, live
a little too close to the edge;

feel the rush, then the plunge,
then the dark // but we didn’t.
we stepped back, took up
our day jobs, ran fingertips
over the callus of our hearts and settled

back into the hum, feeling
for the next cut to spread
ourselves open
& up to the light, seeking
applause for our brokenness,
a new way in, a new outlook, our next ghost.

 

Upward mobility

 

Before the storm, 
there is a yellow to the air almost
the same sad brown of the dead
ferns that hang 
from my dead neighbor’s porch
// where the gutters sigh 
and the shutters don’t match
but the house will fetch
a good price-- this 
corner has promise, we’re told // but
someone has missed 
the diagnosis  :  here //
behind the flower pots
and the carefully cut 
weeds // we grow
tired
of sweeping metal jackets
from the doorways,
of putting 
a brave face
on the entirety of our lives so
we all watch 
the storm come // the air thicken,
our weather eyes out
for mares’ tails, for
metaphors // wishing 
for a change,
to be  // every day a different
animal, like the ocean.

 

unseasonable

 

in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,

wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness

of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand

is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,

no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.