asylum

look behind you:

the orchard-lined hall-

way; all the things that have

grown up and pushed out fruit

 

in your wake; the worn door frames

and door knobs, the sleeked floors slipping

under committed feet, the living point of contact

keeping you both here, resolved—all in, so to speak.

 

not since those first nine months

have you ever been so

in love with a

lynchpin.

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forgive me, father

forgive me, father

for i have sinned;

 

it’s been fifteen days

since my last poem.

 

these first baby steps

are weird and wonder-

 

ful; i wonder where

they are taking me.

 

maybe to you—to the

brightest thing in my life.

 

let me know where

your heart is;

 

let me know your

words so i can

 

steal them away:

the purest relation-

 

ship, you say, preserved

in this crystalline distance.

 

can you see them? the pink

clouds rowing through the sky?

 

humming right along-

side? we’re almost there.

tiny home

Josie looked around at the giant house one last time: the vast emptiness, the sloping walls meeting the sprawling floors, the cathedral tiled tub scrubbed as shiny as ever, the multiple pockets of closets where things had crouched hidden for years—now flung open, naked and wanting. She was ready: to say goodbye, to close the multiple doors, to run as fast as she could from this wide domestic spread and its wider clutches.

She had a ticket. She felt it in her pocket. Its bulky presence reminded her that she had somewhere to be, something important to do. She couldn’t miss her train. She couldn’t let the people on the train down. They were counting on her. The whole world was counting on her.

In one hand she carried an argyle suitcase, and in the other a worn leather briefcase. On her back was the remainder of her belongings, stuffed into the Jansport backpack she had carried all through high school. Everything else she had ever owned was gone—sold, thrown away, given away, left behind, scattered to the wind.

She felt lighter as she walked away from the cab toward the platform. She felt so light she imagined dropping her remaining possessions to the ground, lifting up off the concrete slab—toes pointed, arms outstretched, face tilted toward the sun as she rose above the crowds watching her ascent.

The train whistle cut through her thoughts as people scurried around her. She felt her feet touch down, and she told them to move forward toward the open door. It was a narrow door, and she turned sideways as she struggled to squeeze her bags through. Where was the conductor to take her ticket? To help her with her bags? To give her a gaze of quiet assurance? Was this even the right train?

She followed the line of travelers down the aisle. They seemed to move with confidence. They seemed to believe. Really, they were just competing for an empty window seat. She finally found one near the rear of the car. She laid her luggage on the aisle seat for a moment, catching her breath before lifting the heavy suitcase up onto the shelf above.

She had not been able to part with her favorite books. They were more important than clothes. She had kept only three changes of clothes, two pairs of shoes (one of which she was wearing—her trusty hiking boots), a blanket, a small pillow, her father’s checkered necktie, a few worn undergarments, and her grandmother’s pink silk scarf. It was the only pink thing she owned. The rest of the trunk was filled with Jane Austen, Pablo Neruda, Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho. There were many more, but it had been difficult to choose. She would have rather gone with just the clothes on her back and carried only books. But she noticed that the fewer belongings she had, the more attention she was able to give each one—like dear children important in their own eternal way. While packing she had talked to each one, tucking it in tightly to its tiny assigned space: Don’t worry, you are safe, you are not alone. It was important to say these things out loud.

At the next platform she would board a larger train with a small compartment all her own. Here she would live for the next few months, transverse the states while writing, watching out the wide windows, waiting for a sign. Inside, within the four small stationary walls, she would find and welcome home all the selves that had wandered away over time and become lost within a fractured body, a fragmented memory, a starving marriage, an immoveable mansion. Josie closed her eyes and let the lull of the train put her into a deep sleep.

dust has nothing to fear

i’m on a long journey, and

i don’t know the way.

 

the dust under my feet

has nothing to fear;

 

it’s been here before,

but it has a lot to say—

 

to the fingers, to the

rib-cage, to this feast, to

 

the miles walked across

this beach: once you are

 

thus reduced, you can only

transform into some thing

 

new—a diamond, a sand-

storm, a brilliant planet.

 

take every thing that is

happening, every thing you

 

feel, every thing you keep

silent, every thing you shout—

 

and kneel: turn it,

churn it into art.

 

it is the only way in,

and the only way out.

 

free-dom

you make me

feel my bravery,

 

my body

memory.

 

how many centuries

have we climbed

 

together? you hand

me the spy glass and

 

i chart our course: over

too many thoughts and

 

too few feelings. we

are always seeking,

 

always forgetting where

we’ve tread; always reach-

 

ing for a brand-new match-

ing set: heart and head.

 

while waiting for your phone call

as soon as you leave

i feel it:

 

the immense sadness,

the emptiness, the

 

alone-ness.

 

it makes me wonder

why i’m here; what my

 

purpose is

outside of you;

 

outside of

bringing your life into

 

being.

 

this house, this rent,

this uneaten food in the

refrigerator.

 

as soon as i’m alone,

every thing is vast and open

 

and possible

again;

 

beautifully vacant.

 

it makes me think

and want to create

 

and fill up the spaces

with music and dance and

 

paint.

 

this piano, these poems,

this uncooked

recipe.

 

how can something be

so delicious and so alone—

 

electric in one moment,

and dead the next?

 

it’s a long, long road,

up through this fissure

 

into the dark hollow of

spine.

 

it’s the only way

to move and be moved;

 

it’s the only

way—up, up—

 

and it’s

mine.