Effing Love Poems: Undiscussed

I love the stars
not because they are bright,
possibly because they are far
(farther than I can comprehend the measure),
but mostly because they make me feel small
and small things are unimportant and free


I love you
not because you are beautiful,
possibly because you are sharp
(with words and thoughts sharper than I can hold with soft skin),
but mostly because you are separate from me
and separate things maintain their identities


Some nights I wake up and think
oh gods, could I love you more than I love the stars?
How could I know that?
Could I love you more than Betelgeuse or Kastra?
I’ve never studied them like I’ve studied your face
I’ve never been to them like I’ve been to the hollows
your clavicles make


Some nights I wake up and reach
over to the hollow where you usually sleep
and find it empty.

Today I Am a Cat

The cats are curled nonchalantly on the couch next to me.  The thunder?  They could give a damn.  Even Pan, my boyfriend’s cat, master of the outdoors, has nothing to say on the matter.  He only licks himself.

I feel like a cat.  The thunder?  Ha.  Rain is good for the garden.  I want to sleep in a puddle of fur by the window sill.

Today is submission day.  I’ve gotten it into my head that one day every week or two I ought to set aside for just submitting work to various magazines.  Sending all these finished stories off to markets and seeing what sticks.  It’s likely a good practice.  I’m likely muddling through trying to set a schedule in a way that would make a more practiced writer, a more published writer, cringe.  Some days I make myself cringe.

But today I am a cat.  I will approach the submission rounds with the nonchalance befitting my breed.  And when I am done, I will drink a glass of milk, thunder be damned.  Then I will curl myself into a tight tiny ball, with other tight tiny furred balls gathered purring around me, and I will sleep.

A Nomad’s Garden Comes to Rest

I knew most of it was old seed, likely wouldn’t germinate.  But I had seventeen pots, and enough good earth to fill them and then some.  Besides, the sweet potatoes were growing like they were preparing for the apocalypse, and the okra was going to be a little while yet.

So I took my soil and filled my pots, and used pack after pack of old seed: black beauty eggplant, Siam queen basil, cayenne pepper, garlic chives.  Weeks ago.

And today, my luck runs half.  Three pots of baby basils, but no sign of eggplant sprouts.  One little shoot of cayenne pepper, but the chives rolled over and slept.  There was a small rosemary bush two and a half weeks ago that isn’t quite so small anymore.  There was a golden cayenne that was demanded by boyfriend, already grown and now its peppers are yellowing to ripe.

Then there was the ginger.  I had tried this trick, trying to get a supermarket root to sprout, send off shoots.  I failed.  But a friend watched in horror as her ginger grew white nobs and sent off tight green spikes groping for light… on her counter.  I inherited this wonder root.  It’s growing in an old plastic Folgers coffee canister, with drain holes drilled in the bottom.  I see no reason to waste a perfectly good potting container just because it came with some bad coffee.

This is my garden: a series of recycled cat litter buckets, liners for decorative pots, some salvaged terra cotta sitting in a happy circle in the sun.  The okra is growing in drilled out plastic storage bins, and the sweet potatoes live in giant laundry baskets.  It’s a renter’s garden.  The bounty of a vagabond girl, just before phase B of her big move.

Come August, these buckets and pots will be moved again, across town instead of across the state.  The compost comes too.  And then?  Then there will be a yard.  I don’t quite know what to do.  It’s a vast thing to care for, to consider, and I have not been responsible for one in some time.

I want there to be pomegranates.  Blueberries.  Blackberries.  Peaches.  These things struck me all at once: I can grow them.  Here.  Rabbiteye or southern highbush.  I’m thinking about winter chills needed.  I’m thinking about soil requirements.  Rabbiteye, then.

In just a few weeks, we’ll pack ourselves in caravans, migrate a few miles north, and there we’ll stay.  I will line the walk with basil pots.  I will find ways to make planters of old machines.  I will sculpt my own garden statuary, a DIY gamer’s garden, with a shrine to Azura, and signs warning visitors away from the fish pond: “Beware of Kelpie.”

But I’ll have my own garden again.

Me vs. the Page

I am the kind of person who doesn’t make a lot of excuses when it comes to writer’s block. I have the notion that it’s a largely invented condition, a state brought about by any one or more of the following: feelings of overwhelmedness, stubbornness in insisting one can only work on one writing project at a time, over-editing in the draft phase, or a lack of confidence in one’s words (which is the hardest of these to rebound from). 

Lately, or rather just for the past few days, my writing has suffered from none of these. It’s fallen victim to a case of bluh. While in bluh, it’s hard to do any of the following: do chores, read a book, play a video game, garden, get out of bed, or even eat. It is not a state I recommend highly. In my experience, bluh is the precursor to a depressive expanse lasting I don’t know how long. Yes, there are management tricks. Yes, they require effort to employ. The energy to employ them is in short supply.
So where does that leave my writing? Do I doggedly slog through? Not yesterday or the day before, I didn’t. Maybe today holds promise, right? More like: go see someone about this. It’s a pattern. I’ve lived with it for a while. Let the moving settle out, and ask for a bit of help. Maybe I’ll be surprised. 

Some Anniversaries

I turned 32 four days ago.  One year ago, I was on Fort Lauderdale Beach, feeling and the sky crackle with sparks, weighed down with lead.  I don’t know that girl now.  She died that day.  I won’t mourn her.

With Effort

I tried, that 4th of July,
the fireworks suicide bright,
the concussive flash
and the smell of burnt:
burnt sky, burnt aluminum & magnesium,
burnt gunpowder, burnt rubber.
I tried to add one more:
burnt flesh,
hoped to push through the grille
of that Ford F-250
to cook on its diesel engine
as I rounded the corner.
I tried.


They tried 
out on the barge, but the
mortar never hit air,
ground-bound, but not aborted,
and it lit the water low,
just like the sparks that flew
as the truck’s tow chains dragged tar
and the brakes squealed
before my bicycle.


But I drew another breath,
and stood under
a sky blooming with
funeral flowers
calcium chloride chrysanthemums,
lithium carbonate dahlias.
I couldn’t hear the shouts
over the reports and crackle,
mouths flapping silent
as I dismounted
the bike, walked numb
to the curb.


And when it was over,
smoke rising away,
it left something 
wanting.

But I tried.

Effing Love Poems: A Cold Patience

My jacket is thin against

the cold. Other times,

it’s a kind of magic:
heavy in autumn after a summer
of naked sunburnt arms,
and then so light in spring
once we’ve put away
the down coats,
the scarves and ski jackets.

A late snow killed all
the crocus. The forsythias
are confused. I want to
ask you to dig out the
heavy coats and wool–
it seems we cleaned for
spring too soon.

But I have faith
in summer.
Please have faith in me.