Why We Are Here (first published in Eyedrum Periodically 2018)

Why can’t we wonder about what …
Is it too close to us, this magnificent reality of existence?

We focus on the destiny of starlight, the dank history of gravity. We invite wars
to decide who deserves to live and whose sacred text to read.
We debate whether or not robots and clones and AIs are human; we string together “what ifs” like a necklace or
a noose.

We write books (and then read them) about our purpose in life, our destiny; our inner dialogue with free will chatters on for decades and
is it not-
is it not enough
to know that the first sound every human being hears is the orchestra of the womb?
The mother’s beating heart, air moving in and out of her lungs, even the sound of her blood moving through the umbilical cord.

Is it not enough
of a miracle that every human being shares 99% of their DNA with
human being?

We can transfer a living human heart from one body to the next; we can print a heart from a machine. But we don’t know
why we laugh, or why cats purr.

We know that black holes can swallow entire stars—that the Magnus Effect makes balls fly instead of fall.

Why not wonder why the gray of a rainy autumn afternoon is different that the gray of a snowstorm?

We don’t stop
in astonishment at the ray of sunlight caressing a child’s face, or the graceful power of hummingbird flight.

We want a reason for our objective reality,
and then we want to argue about it.
And all the while there is the tender blue of morning and the raging violets of evening and the scars of our individual little lives all
waiting, waiting for us to see.

My Reading of “Why We Are Here”

“Nova Scotian” (published in Ponderings 2015)

Scraggy as the greygreen rocky shoreline, the old man
with his dirty cap askew walks his brown, scruffy, limping dog up the stony path.
The ragged stubble and the sinking skin of a life
mirror the rocky coastline and the slow,



And the limping brown dog whose beard is turning white lifts his leg, and the old man scratches the ass of his dark blue work pants and thinks I will take him in the boat today. Too old to bark at skyrats, too tired to chase…anything. He looks up at the old man and thinks Home.

Weathered red paint of the fishing shacks cracking into view, and the old man sees them. This is how they’ve always been. And nothing I will do can change them.

Children question his deep, long lines and young men answer them saying Someday I’ll know what he knows.

And young girls think I wish he were my father.

And women ripe for life think Someday a man like that will love me.

My Reading of “Nova Scotian”

“Ruby’s First Time on the Beach” (published in Barbaric Yawp January 2005)

Tiny round arms and legs darting warm and waiting, moving full force toward the white waves, Ruby runs.

The long and lanky brown boys wait for Ruby to dip her small pink toes into the emerging flood delicately, gently, but into the thunderous foam, Ruby runs.

Mother catches her brand new golden straps, Ruby laughing at the gull scream and sunbake. Let me RUN, her round face says, uplifted to the mother.

A waiting, hopeful face is dragged back to the safe tan sand. Mother looks down lovingly. Questioningly. Let’s run INTO it, the tiny face says.

The brothers are building sand castles. Jumping, twittering, needing waves, willing and strong—Ruby runs.

Mother runs with her—holding—keeping—protecting. But Ruby breaks away. Ruby makes the wave. Alone.

Mother, open-mouthed, silently yells for help. The lifeguard starts. The brothers look and see—for the first time truly—the waves. That tumultuous beast-mother we are all born into and from. And the mother manages an out loud cry. The blueyawning movement terrifies. The soft sand is no comfort now.

Beating hearts magnify into a pulse of fear and Ruby—laughing—bobs up and squeals, rolling with the living waves. Washed up giggling, into Mother’s shaking arms, Ruby runs.

My Reading of “Ruby’s First Time on the Beach”

MOWING THE LAWN (published in the 2016 Fish Anthology)



You would hate the way I mow the lawn—my line-ish things, my
lack of symmetry, my
desire to go over the same spot twice.

You would hate that I go right over the rocks you taught me to avoid. My
patterns don’t make sense and if I stop to flip a turtle or watch a baby snake periscope its new world, I can hear you asking. I can sense your puzzlement.

You told me once: “Lil, if there is an assbackward way to do something you will find it.” I smile, remembering running down the up escalator in the Paris Metro—you catching me in time for the free concert in Saint Sulpice. We made it. We always made it.

And now I hit the rock and it makes that crunching noise
and now I go over the rock
and over it
and let it make that crunching noise because something should be allowed to make noise.

You would hate the way I keep stopping the mower to get a drink or write a few lines.

You would hate the way I go over twigs of increasing size just to see how much the blades can take.

You would not understand why I keep it in first gear
only. And only you would understand why sometimes I mow the lawn more than once a week.

My Reading of “Mowing the Lawn”

NOT IF, BUT WHEN (published in Eyedrum Periodically)

 Oxford, Kelly (@kellyoxford)”Women: tweet me your first assaults, they aren’t just stats.” I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.” October 7, 2016 7:48PM. Tweet

She didn’t ask if; she asked when.
There were thousands of replies in the first hour. There were over a million in the first 24.

I was four the first time. I remember because I wasn’t in school yet.

Not If … but When.

No one notices If sitting in the corner. If is small and dark and blends in. If waits.

When doesn’t need to hide.
When is the flagellation of inevitability.

I didn’t know it was called rape. I thought all twelve-year-olds said yes. It made me special. What was there to tell?

          I was eleven and it wasn’t rape really… .

Meanwhile, a bunched up pair of panties, blood of inner thighs, mountains and mountains of skulls from girlhood are tossed into the past and as forgotten as the tooth left for the fairy. It’s a rite of passage.

At breakfast, three women share rape stories. One woman is silent.
That doesn’t means she doesn’t have a story. 

I was already fifteen so I don’t know if it counts … .
He said I was his very own “little girl.”
I never told anyone—I was ashamed.
He said he would kill me.
He said he loved me.
It was my fault.
I was drunk.
I… .

And we sigh
and we share
and we shrug
and we are silent.

Frozen screams line up in collective memory as if they belonged there.

This is not normal.
Is this not normal?

Not If but… When. When?

I want When out of the driver’s seat. I want When chained by the neck, running with cracked, bleeding feet behind the car. 

I have no room left for mercy.

He said, “Just touch it. We don’t have to do anything.”

My Reading of “Not If, But When”

Buy Ponderings, my first chapbook of poetry.

2 Responses to “POETRY”

  1. Lisa-

    I want to re-blog and share your beautiful words but I can’t. 🙁 I am going to share your blog in a post. Enjoy your week at the Guild!



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