how to shatter a ribcage [poem]

the magnificence of
stars, cold
draw those shoulders uptotheears
trapezius active, terrified
wrap those ribwings
round the heart, kept
protected, warm by fear and power
in the bones

wow what a feeling

wearing wings, bold, strong
you know how strong is the human ribcage?
(links open in new tabs; i know you want to know; don’t leave; i’m still here)
is yours as strong as mine?

your heart hides(is safe) just behind
stretch and open, resined chest
mama, know this
let it go, you cannot change
the past, we’ve passed
now is now, joy, here, now

damn it

how to shatter a ribcage?

silent break ups with boy friends suck [poem]

        did you realize
        you’d broken up?

paint pours, you contour his
cheeks, white pink flesh, two moles
best friend, he was, he was
for many, years ago

and the others?
alan beaver the blonde twins, best friends
trusted them, with your hurt
left you wild, with your hurt
        more than anyone

what about forrest?
friend, heart smart, strong, vata as fuck
        where is he?

        no one, there
        the mat, breath in, breath out
        he was, they were, smoke

come back, guys
sorry, pussy ‘tween my legs
i’m down to hang
like i always was

        more to give than goodies
        promise
        i’ll keep my crazies down

the wet heavy velvet wind [poem]

the wet heavy velvet wind
pulls herself through the hemlock
curtains, boughs floating
on the waving carpet
up low down up low down up

stone forest trees, short
wearing coats, beautiful, warm
storm after storm, weathering
heads down, huddle close
defectors are the first to go

did you see the beech leaves turn
from yellow to gold to brown
before they fell to the ground
turning soft under pressure of
the wet heavy velvet wind

glad we didn’t try like that

chobani enlightenment [poem]

your feet pound the faux-wood floor
pace, pick up, forget as right foot steps
chobani, strawberry pieces, red
animal rage so strong, little man

your anger, your fire, you
that you found along the path of love
now as it casts stones at your son
does it feel good to burn, mama?

        you gulp sour spit at the sight of what you said
        in spite and sorry not fit to be a mom, not meant to be a mom, why did i decide to mom
        like this
        before the buddha on the couch
        you remember your plan to enlighten
        who the fuck has time for that
        creative mom with self-scarring wounds is surviving, self-medicating
        making space to make it better
        chuckle
        exhale smoke

your son was ready, wanted to be gone
didn’t flinch in seeing you stay there, behind
but does she have the bubble wand, mama?

        she does, my sweet son, she does

Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA // November 2020

the big, deep, spring [poem]

for twenty-five new dawns
i propose a mid-day drive
something to look forward to

the big, deep, spring
not far from where i lay my head
beside gray-brown heavy curls
of my now toddler son

we went on a drive today
it snow and was the first time since it stopped, not that long ago
today it arrive, arrived, and arrived

the cops were there
       that was unexpected, and terrifying

babe wished to go home
before i’d wished anything
fight flight or freeze
never been my style with badged officials
i ask why not a raft ride
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

spotted brown, lake, brook trout
chunk of dishwater hair floating
jesus christ what the fuck
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

an only parent, with a son
and a 12-year-old golden witness
no one else, no jury
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

big swing push, biggest swing push
loaded up the car and crew
pulled out in a line of three

two cherokees, two and a half indians
enough support to get moving
i drove west, they split off

five miles from our place, a rental
cozy covid safe haven in the north, home.
car off. cries out

never have i ever been so close to
losing someone
like that
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

sick in the thick of (fighting) love, dammit [poem]

        I do(n’t) want to fall in love. (i’m afraid of it)

I don’t want to risk saying goodbye to the fire in my heart, to the dancing queen in my soul, to the get-up-and-go that makes me who I am. I don’t want to leave behind all the things that make me the me I love the most. Free spirit. Artist. Unconventional bohemian babe who teaches yoga and heals with her hands, and also swears like a badass sailor bitch with a shot of Jameson, another of Patrón, and a sweating Busch light on the bar before me. I want to climb those trees in the furry-filled fuzzy Northwest, and those mountain peaks in the sacred Himalayas. I don’t want to make decisions using my left brain. I don’t want to say I’m sorry, and really mean it, when I realize I was less than considerate of the man waiting in the truck. I don’t want to cry when we’re an hour away from our departure point. I don’t want to have nausea, those fucking butterflies that come, or the weight gain or weight loss that accompanies an emotional experience us humans aren’t blessed to have enough to make sense of within our minds. I don’t want to fall. Fuck. I don’t want to fall. I want to cling to my path, one that has no rules, that believes everything is gray—never black and white, ever—but is a foggy gray filled with regular doses of tye-dye and psychedelic hippies and EDM. A path that sings to Bieber and Johnny Cash. That is full of naked swims at sunrise in the Sawtooth mountains, and naked golden-hour dips amongst canoers and fallen birch trees in the Upper Peninsula. It’s a path that lights my life up bigger and bolder than any path I’ve ever tried ever could.

        What’s the worse thing that could happen?  (he asks, my therapist, best one ever)
        I roll my eyes, laugh at how silly it sounds, but I tell the truth
For me, the worst thing that could happen is he could be my forever person and I could change and get married and have some babies and live in the woods amongst the woodpeckers and fawns and…
        I laugh. I cry. So does he
        This hurts (my ego who is not vulnerable but strong and willfull and free, don’t you see!)
the reason I’m most terrified is because this is truly unexplored (and i don’t know how to do it)

how do you just be, without a heady head swirling with option and adventure?
how do you just let go of agenda, roles, and truthly keep both feet inside the door?

        just be, I suppose
        let life happen, I suppose
        feel the feelings, I suppose
        cry and vomit and let yourself be
        sick in the thick of love, damnit

LIBERATION on his back as blood sprayed on the snow [poem]

LIBERATION on his back as blood sprayed on the snow

LIBERATION
blocky scripted ink handmade by a cousin
addict with a hella
shaky hand
wife in wheelchair, near vegetables, eating
macaroni and cheese mush life no thanks nah man i’m good give me that pill yo?

LIBERATION was inked forever on him and them and her, too, she knew

intuition spoke more than anyone did, and yet

she did not listen, a voice in her
chest heart caving in feeling what she felt
knowing and truth and foreshadowing fear in her bones

she let it go and so she let him go but she was angry and said no that wasn’t how
she let it go

drove back to him after he’d taken the pills from her bottle and replaced with zantac, crazy drove to the stop sign on clark, said nah thanks man, i’m good give me that pill yo?

home she was home and she was there and so was he and she looked inside that bottle and did you see
was gone
as was her credit card, that cousin told her, somehow truth rested also in
his eyes in pain

she walked into that stanky house and told him that she knew
card was gone, he used it, didn’t he, of course he did, proof she had
no he didn’t deny deny deny deny what happened next was one of the early conscious awakenings

black holes of her life

she moved away from him, denied his merciful requests for more more more
was angry and righteous and right and rightfully so but yet
he was hurting

she got to the car before he did, he begged her not to do what she was about to do
she drove fast, he blocked the car, said please baby don’t go, please
she drove

mind was awfully big and powerful pushing her to stop the car and go

intuition spoke more than anyone did, and yet

this time she listened, a voice in her
chest heart caving in feeling what she felt
knowing and truth and foreshadowing fear in her bones

fast forward cannot relive the retelling not here not now not my painful point of view

yet there we were
LIBERATION on his back as
blood sprayed on the snow

she didn’t trust her voice, the wisdom
the first time around, fool, get it right
could have saved you some time and some pain, (wo)man
would have died right then and there

intuition stopped her from letting him go
there, then, now, let it go go go go go go go go go go go
with the blood spray on the snow

hard to feel it all again, really don’t want to, cannot, not capable, it is
really, too much

she drove back to the door, the snow was deep
piled so so high, too deep to get them help
february is a hard time in michigan

i cannot tell it now, i will wait to finish this one

so here we are
LIBERATION on his back as
blood sprayed on the snow…

[tbcontinued…]

shirodhara: an ayurvedic oil awakening [poem, and embodied request]

drip
drip
drip drip
drip drip
drip drip drip streammmmmmmmm

warm oil streams across my face
pours from a pot above my head
falls an inch below my hairline, just above my eyebrows

running softly across my skull
rushing rivers to my temples
swimming in a swirl of curls
oil pools beside my head, towel on my hair

third-eye sleeping safely, kept under iPhone lock and key

life nectar continues to caress, sweet sweet fragrant oil
thinking momentarily fades away, sweetness in to take his place
simple sweetness, supple powers, of the lady with the oil
inner knowings wait for outer silence sweet sweet sweet

muddled being, struggling with decisions, none
crying heart, lamenting heart, learning not to love, but love
how to disappear and live again, shirodhara oil can you also come

minutes, hours, lives pass by as truth and grace remain
to hold supple hands of a woman in her prime, within an oil awakening

Opium in a baggy at the tea stahl [poem]

Black tar, she enjoyed this kind
in high school, rolled small balls
smoked in a marijuana joint
sometimes fired on its own

where in the world did
midwestern teenagers get this
poppy product adored by the Rajasthani man
tar-stained teeth, no shame

offers it to the American
mother in a navy a-line skirt sitting beside
chubby toddler in his tan and black fedora

it was always her favorite drug
pretended not to love it
she remembered the high well
smooth, relaxed, easy

for 16 years whenever asked
which she preferred best
opium
last time she tried it, was a child

two men sat on a bench, cornered
across, in the cement block tea stahl near the fort first gate
pale blue button downs neatly pressed
brown skin, just a few shades darker than
their milky tea in slender glasses

government workers, kind dumb simple eyes
on the plastic baggy of opium held open to
the mother, eyes wide yet smaller than her own

she watched them watch her
the son, the baggy, chocolate inside
the mother clenches her jaw, purses her lips
hostage status in the exchange

Take opium? He asked, smirk and gentle smile
slides the black tar
his finger and the dime-sized dollop
oozing, My life is clean now
I heard her say, did you hear

he pressed resin on a pink tongue
skin scraped against sharp teeth below.
winding the baggy round itself, returned to a pocket
reached for water before the son, half liter
down his throat, just like that
he crossed his legs above the knee

now, a swallow of chai
held the glass with charisma, confidence
strange sexiness in the dark, this man

son banged a red litchi juice carton on the table
demanding attention from the audience, watching

name is Garfur, he told her, relative of
the politician who owns her hotel
last name Khan of the muslim warrior clan, three
daughters, one son, worked in camels before now
tuk tuk driver

life is good
opium cigarettes marijuana chai
easy life

who knows what my future brings
I heard her say, did you hear

now, this isn’t for me

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India // spring 2019
edited for form November 2020

You bowed to me [poem]

how many days have you walked into my room,
rice on a tray, dal, quiet as a mouse
careful not to wake my sleeping son
while seeing my mess, some shame
an american queen, closet concubine, waiting for the work to be
done at a desert hotel with
a pool

today for lunch I demanded plain spaghetti
        just boil it and bring it here! I heard myself yell at the phone

why did i speak like this?

disgusted with undercooked beans, abundance
of sunflower and rice bran oil, and salt

tonight for dinner I requested fancy dal not on your menu
one prepared special for entitled tourists like me
        dal makhani, it’s possible? I ask
        sab kuch milega, you say

when you brought it to me, my robe
closed tight around my chest, lights low, I opened my door, my world,
you entered, placed the tray on the table, silent

        you rose, met my gaze, pressed your palms in
        anjali mudra, opening your heart

my breath left me
        thank you, thank you, I said
        who am I to be so proud?
        I meant it

I longed to be a beautiful woman [poem] // tale of our first solo scooty adventure in the desert

I caught my shadow on the single-lane asphalt road with broken rocky shoulders that drew a line south in the Thar, save a few curves of sanddunes drifting across the surface. My head was tightly wrapped in an emerald green pashmina from Jaipur, the scarf tail dancing behind our bodies roughly one hundred kilometers from the Pakistan border. It was 95 degrees at ten am. Before we’d set off that morning I covered my son with the usual heavy gray cotton flap of his baby carrier, attached him tightly to my body, and drove down the slippery stone slabs of the fort first gate. It was the first time we’d ride here just the two of us.

The path was edged with desert cacti who wore silken flowers of faded fuchsia and tiny white pearls. The road cut through fields of harvested cumin, gathered into stone-topped drying piles amongst scattered mounds of sandstone boulders. The road curved through one small village of people who lived by shaping them. I smelled dirt. There were sandstone homes, carved beautifully, but most were square squatty concrete buildings, some with bright white lime and turquoise facades.

Muslim shepherds in sweat-stained dhotis with bulging inner pockets, slender frames, walked slowly behind dreadlocked sheep and black goats with twisted horns and rectangle eyes. Six or seven golden and burnt black camels in shade, sometimes alone, like the saggy backed bony cows who occasionally wore 15-inch horns. We passed by dung and clay huts with straw circle tops. Kids chased our scooter, which made me nervous, but happy to be seen. I smiled at the older humans, being, waiting for me to pass.

I longed to be a beautiful woman in a movie, the kind who poetry and novels are written about, dressed with a green scarf round her head, tied at the neck, pair of wheels under her, upon an open road.

Going deeper into the desert, I continued toward the Shakti temple an hour from town.

My dreams were now alive in the shadows on the ground.

The same, questions of your father [poem]

        the boys in the temple today
        spoke down to me, questioned
        again, about your father

eyes, pure white, open and embracing
circles of brown round black, still believing these are
more beautiful than any anyone has seen

        I regret what I told them
        you will have children. never leave your sons, I say
        please do not do what some of your real fathers did, I think

I turned my back and walked away from
my choices, the surprise and hypocrisy and beliefs
your parents, my parents, just products of lifetimes

        I hope the questions stop
        It’s not the Indian way, they say
        abortions, preferred. you think, they think, silent

your father, being human being, a man
tender boy made in mountains, naive, frightened
existence we created, they created, were created, are created

        truth, still a mystery to me
        father will love him, he is his son, they say
        it’s too dangerous to try, you say, they stay silent

nearly two years have passed. I am not the same
surely neither are you alone, in the secret of fatherhood
missing, or dead. to us you seem the same

        I hope the questions stop