to-do list

every 
tick tick
item
on my 
tick tick
list
is a 
tick tick tick 
from the
tick tick 
end
when I
tick tick
get
to the 
tick tick
end I cele—
tick tick
—brate
the ticking
tick tick
end
but the 
tick tick
items
on the
tick tick 
list regener—
tick tick
—ate
I ticking
tick tick
hate
that I can’t
tick tick
get
to the 
tick tick
end 
the end’s a 
tick tick 
lie

and I lie 
down
let the list 
slip
from my fingers
it floats to the floor
so many boxes
unticked
always

so many
boxes
un 
ticking
ticked
un— 
ticking
—believable
I’m
ticking
done
let’s
just
kiss
instead.

“tic clocks toc don’t make a toctic difference to kisskiss you and to kiss me”

E. E. Cummings

affair

if I were to have
an affair
it would be with you

I would have gotten
tangled up
in marriage
strangled up
and tied up
in marriage
mangled in marriage

and you with your
blue eyes and intellect
commanding respect
every syllable you utter
a shudder of my heart
I'd start to realize that

I'm awake and alive
and I've
fallen
for you your
blue eyes and intellect
and I can't recollect
time before you or space or
anything without you

awake and alive
and I've 
fallen
into a new
dimension
(did I mention
the eyes?)

so you'd be 
the one
who would lead me
astray
away from my marriage
my lackluster life

I think about that
if I were to have
an affair
but where our stars crossed
lover
blue and amber eyes locking
awake and alive
we hadn't been tossed
into mediocre marriages
yet
and yet even at twenty two
we knew
we'd fallen
into a new
dimension
and did I mention
we've been in that
dimension
ever since

metaphor

I lie in bed
metaphors on the mind
because how do you
define love
define love for me
please
I want to know the
denotation
dictionary
definition
but to know
is to feel
and to feel
is not a 
dictionary definition
it is a 
metaphor maybe
different for
every one of us
must we define it?
because the feeling feels fine
and I think
my metaphor
for love
is you.

dinner plans

when my mom was 
dying 
you wanted to 
meet up 
with me 
for dinner
I was late
I was late
because I was on a walk
with my mom
I didn't cut the walk
short
so I could be 
on time
with you
you were so mad
at me
for being late
we argued and
if I had to do it
again
I wouldn't
I'd turn around
and leave
and then that time
would be with
my mom
not you
because you are a 
thief
you stole time from
me and
my mom and
I'm mad
I'm mad maybe
I'll never stop being mad
my mom and I
would have had
a lovely dinner together
at home instead she ate
alone
that night
I might never forgive you

you apologized ten years
later but it was
ten years too late and
ten words too late and
I've been thinking that
maybe you feel at peace
now
now that you've said your words
and good for you
but I can't get my time
back and
I'm mad that I didn't
leave
because mom left
she's gone
she's still
and you
you're still sorrying
and I'm 
done giving you time
time for me to turn
around
and leave
bye
bye
I'm
gone.

Listen: The Grief Episode

101

You said that
the rats come in your dreams
after your sister died
the rats come in your dreams
difficult to sleep dreaming the dreams
of naked tails
difficult to wake to a day
knowing the night 
brings beady eyes

I seem to remember 
Orwell's Winston's biggest fear being
trapped with rats
with no escape
in room 101
and one
fear
is all it takes to trap
you in your dreams
every night never
anywhere but 101
locked no light
but brown bodies
a moving floor of fur
for you your
dreams don't 
let you leave this life your
dreams don't
let you lean on her your
sister
or kiss her
"do you miss me? come and kiss me."
one last time
the time with her is
all used up
a cup poured out

now night comes 

and I’d come too but
my 101 is the next room
down the hall a 
wall 
between us
not filled with rats 
but rants of people
disappointed in me
I can't see 
you
but I'm here
I'll knock twice
on our wall
to say

I'm here!
(knock! knock!)
our fears
won't seem so 
bad I'm
down the hall with just a 
wall 
between us.

Mama

I wore pearl earrings today
you would have
approved of the pearls
you always
loved your pearls perhaps
they were symbolic
for you
growing up
one of thirteen
I've been thinking
about that
how it must have 
been hard
to
stand out
to
stand tall
so as soon as
you could
(you could)
you got out
and bought
heels and
pearl earrings 
and you
stood tall

I wore pearl earrings today
and anyway I
really just wanted to say
that I love you
I miss you
I hope you
are wearing pearl earrings
in heaven.

Listen: The Grief Episode

skinned knee

A self-proclaimed 
"not-huggy" person
I realized this morning
as I sipped
hot coffee
that I'd really like
a hug
from my dad then
I cried
he died
so I can't
have that I sat
with
hot coffee
and thought
(we only children
are good at that)

I remember as a child
when I'd skin my knee
I'd only need a hug
a big bear hug
not a hollow
not-really-touching
but tapping
my shoulder blades
with your hands
hug

those are for purity-ring-wearing
Christian college kids and
I've done
my time
with them
I'm done
with hollow hugs
I follow my thoughts
back to when
I Decided I That I Don't Hug
and it wasn't hugs
I didn't like

it was the hollowness
empty space
between us
saccharine kindness
sucralose of love
fake
but tasted sweet
I don't want that
and I'm afraid
afraid I've skinned my knee again
and I need
a hug.

Caesura

I'm forgetting things
like
the term for when
there's a period
or a dash
or a semicolon
in the middle
of a line -- of poetry

I try and the word has
slipped
down
in
between 
the
folds
of
my
memories
and I try
I
say sure I
can do this
I've taught if for
years
15 years
and I try
I 
say sure a 
little jolt and I'll know it
only one little word
but that one little word
has gone

I'm forgetting things
like
what it's like to
have coffee with you to
send a quick text to you to
tell you some stupid
trivial thing thoughts
like these I have
but I don't remember
what it's like

Caesura is the term
I've remembered 
but remembering
has not brought peace because
the term for
the break
in the line --  of poetry
reminds me of
the break
in the line --  of your life
and for the life
of me
I can't forget the feeling
of thick grief
gray-white fog
it has settled in
down 
in
between
the
folds
of 
my
memories

I'm forgetting things
and when I forget things
about you
I can't google
"the poetic term for a break in the middle of a line of poetry"
there's nothing to search
there's nothing to find
but I'm trying don't want to give up
I'm desperate and lonely and
I want to remember
remember what it's like
to have coffee
to text
to dial your number
and say -- what's the word?
Mom

Listen: The Grief Episode

everyone goes

hey
dad
it's been a 
minute
but I wanted to
talk about heaven
with you
and I think you're
there right now sitting on your lawn chair drinking hot coffee

I wanted to
talk about heaven
with you
and tell you that
I'm sorry
for all the times you told me
Everyone goes to heaven
and I 
scoffed
because I knew
I knew
you didn't understand
how
the 
gospel
works
you called me a princess
but it was an attack
and I hated you for it
but now looking back
I now can see
how that's
exactly
what 
I
was

I was a spoiled princess
How Dare you Defy Me Dad
Don't You Know I Know
more
than
you
about
life

you told me everyone goes to
heaven
how could a god allow people to
go
to
hell
how could he do that
and why
and I
scoffed
the royal princess that I was
and why should I listen
to someone who wakes waiting
to drink
every
day

I was so much better than that
but now I think I'd like to
talk about heaven
with you
and say
I'm 39
and not a day
goes by
that I don't think of you
and I don't think of you
in hell
but how you have a lawn-chair seat in heaven

and when we
talk about heaven
I want to tell you
that I wish I would have
been a better daughter
later after you died
I tried
I tried
I tried to understand your 
pain
in life
your pain
I think you numbed
you'd sink into
grayed and fuzzed and cotton-muffled brain

but we're talking about heaven
and I want to say
that even though you couldn't stay
to make your heaven
here
on
earth
you've got it now
and now
I know that
I 
don't 
know
all the things I thought
I knew
and you
and you are sitting on your
lawn chair
drinking coffee
restful and content
so proud of me
(you were always so proud of me)
I wish I could have been proud 
of you

but it came too late you couldn't wait
to leave
you 
could 
not
cancer decided
you
did 
not

so hey 
dad
it's been a
minute
but I wanted to 
talk about heaven 
with you
and tell you
that I am doing what I can
to make my heaven
here
on
earth
and when I drink
hot coffee
I think 
of you
of you
of how proud
I am
of you.

Listen: The Grief Episode