unfinished novella

continue shaking the bottle.

the misplaced lid
struggles to keep up
with the slapstick pressure 
of her blistered right palm.

the granules refuse to
dissolve, and they team up
to form an island, patchwork
nation where flora and fauna 
write well-intentioned law.

find a sunlit space.

a loved one tells her
to close her eyes and
wave at the scowling men 
whose lawns hiss below. 

stirring her coffee with 
an off-white straw, she walks
along broken lines, kicking the
rocks whose tips have gone dry
and sharp, initials like kohl. 

stretch across the pavement. 

her dog is smiling shyly
like nurses at humid dawn
who gently touch the shoulders 
of those who dodged the fire. 

the men stand upright
and demand an explanation
for her lateral complacence,
young chapped lips in no way
pursed as noon burns like lye. 

continue to sip and shine. 

Feedback

a hot winged weekend comes to take me away
and like any sensible person on her front porch,
I sit awhile, nod my head, listen to the word
of the plastic pelicans, pinwheels shimmering
behind them – the finest background dancers.

my brother rests on an elevated plane, and I
dart my head towards the direction you’d like
to take, as if I know where you’re headed, as
if I’ve been there and could tell you how many
threads have contracted their lives to a doormat.

I keep my word, but as for my brother, his
memory is one built on convenience, tufts of
gray cotton bordering his neck like Elizabethan
collars, regal and intimidating like the elders
who scare you from asking necessary questions.

you’ve come to me with questions, and I’ve got
nothing but scarcity on this one plot of land, the
smoothness in froth-less coffee waking us up
as the heat of an unforgiving summer awakens
each wrist to rotate, clockwise and cautious.

the cars line up, the ants line up, and the weeds
grow unevenly, like brittle eyelashes rooted in
place for as long as you’d like to stay, for as long
as you’d like to tell me that nothing is wrong, and
water from floppy hoses tastes like guava nectar.

Cat No. 136 of the 500 Cats Project

Connie Undone is on sale at Amazon. Or, get a signed copy from me directly for $12, plus a handwritten poem on a topic of your choice.

approaching some kind of diplomacy

hungry for something
sharper than mint.

this is my first invitation,
and although I lack the
qualifications to advise you
on how to deal with those
noisy neighbors, I do have
pointed ears, open and aware
of the crackling, your knuckles
gone pale from lost sleep.

once I was told that there is
a difference, that judgment didn’t
count against us if we took time
to assimilate, to foster these
saplings like the tastiest of greens,
drizzled in the kindness of cheap
olive oil, almost odorless and clear
like the tears we’ve swallowed out
of bitterness, our confusion tucked
beneath fraying and grayed pillows
gone hard between hospital walls.

gone for just a weekend,
but the floor screeches like
overworked vinyl, and I am
unsure that it is my smirk that
set the pundits off, that divided
the schoolgirls who come to class
a little after six in the morning,
brandishing their plastic spoons.

huddled beneath
our implacable sun.

Cat No. 135 of the 500 Cats Project

enabling the quake

we’ve grown so fat on vitriol, become reluctant on pointing fingers at those

not from our city, one we claim as ours as we look out windows of late-day buses.

pretty parts of town deny cries that echo within our dusty, unchanging hallways.

I’ve wondered what’s to come back for, just how far Scotch tape goes in fixing

cribs with splintered bars, too brittle to hold our discontent that no one could

ever empathize with, although they’re sweating too, palms slightly chapped.

dizzy trips home drop me off fifteen minutes early, spent off the last dime.

someone tells a stranger it can’t feel right to be this angry all the time, to wash your

hair with the same hand soap used to soothe fingers gone cold when it’s over

one hundred degrees outside, bad timing as your fever lives to rise like rude yeast.

protests on sticky notes flutter with pollen across everyone’s front yard, creased.

Cat No. 117 of the 500 Cats Project