At birth we are given a roadmap:
goals and dreams to add to as we age,
each step changing the landscape into
something we might not recognize later.
Obstacles rise to greet us, what we become tied to our
ability to navigate the wilderness of our destinies, even the
branches that build new maps in unknown territories,
to recognize different dimensions in the lands
of what could have been and what must never be.
Passionate volcanos burn bright and hot,
lava-filled and waiting to erupt before fading
into the background of what was and falling into the
event horizon so new ones can rise up from the bones of nothing.
And still, the Universe is patient.
She waits for each of us to reach our treasure, never bothering
to ask if that is what we need. Assuming, instead, that the brightly held “X”
is the inevitable conclusion to each breath that passes through
Summer on the plains
with only the monotonous sunlight.
Thick heat seeped into our pores,
relieved by wind
and the occasional skinny dip
in the shaded river.
The only things to see our twinkling skin
were the turtles,
but they never said a word.
We laughed and played
as the mud-red
water washed away the
heat between us.
Crackling neon calls,
flashing its constant message
Live Nu e Girls
(The d is out).
Above this message are neon girls
dancing across the dark windows.
kicking their legs in perfect
rhythm. Except for one
constantly quivering light.
They remind me of the Fancy’s II
sign near my house at
10th & MacArthur.
It’s dark and unlit now, half
hidden by the telephone pole.
There is an outline of two girls
standing back to back,
nude and ready to dance.
But if you look closely,
you can see that it’s also
the outline of a vagina.
A carefully created illusion,
like the seemingly misplaced wooden
blocks that actually spell out Jesus:
a hidden hologram,
beckoning men in through
its dimly lit doors.
It was a bright red Dodge pickup,
only one year old,
and I was driving you home from a
roadside party you were too drunk
to fully remember.
At least that’s what you told me later
as we sat on the tailgate and looked
up at the stars.
Then you bought something new, something bigger;
a tan Ford with a mud-stained
cattle guard for extra protection.
You were the king of the road,
the safest thing traveling.
It was another night and another party
when you found that it wasn’t so safe.
In my daydreams
I knew I had driven you home
from that party, too,
and on sticky hot nights we still sat on the tailgate
of your red truck,
looking up at stars we would never reach,
drinking warm beer.
Homemakers pushing carts through
the local Sav-A-Lot
with baskets full of plastic and
silver duct tape to
wrap the babies in.
They will be safe that way,
shielded from the sun, the moon,
or even a barrage of chemicals,
if they should chose to let them go.
The children will be
safely bound in their middle-class
suburban homes. Wrapped in the
inorganic death shrouds that were
She twirls through the air, staff ready
body tense, she sees all of the things
that might go wrong, both real and imagined.
Her tiny form swoops with a perfected balance
of grace and chaos. In her mind she is fighting
villians and eating pizzas in the sewers of
New York City, living a great life as a Ninja
Turtle. She is not interested in princesses or
tea parties, but instead wants to fight the bad guys,
team up with mutants, and ride dragons.
Right now she is only in love with
the idea of being more than herself, of
being a hero that can do anything, and I
do not plan on telling her otherwise. Instead,
I watch as her body slices through the air.
One turn, then another.
Fluffy orange Cheetohs dipped,
or sometimes covered,
in bright red Louisiana Hot Sauce.
It was the first of many oddities
he taught me to enjoy.
I still remember holding the
orange and red mess gingerly,
as if the chip itself had been recently slaughtered.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes,
and placed the Cheetoh on my reluctant tongue.
The sharp and immediate tingle of the hot sauce
overwhelmed a little mouth
unused to such bold treats.
My teeth reacted quickly,
baring down on the cheesy chip,
and as its taste mingled with the tart sauce
the two distinct flavors became one,
My dad smiled as I held out
my orange and red stained fingertips
to ask for another.
Sometimes I walk by without noticing,
but not often.
Eyes that aren’t mine
meeting eyes that are.
I know there is nothing behind them,
it’s only a simple trick anyway,
but they still stare at me,
If I stare back too long
they might swallow me whole.
Each golden green orb surrounded by
long blinking eyelashes
and skin tinged blue by lack of sleep:
there was no make-up left to cover the circles up.
Every now and then a tear falls slowly
down the curve of my cheekbone and into
the corners of my chapped, red lips
where the tip of my tongue automatically
pulls the salty candy diamond into the
warm cavern that is my mouth.
But the reflection doesn’t care,
and the eyes that aren’t mine
It was easier when all the heroes
wore brightly colored badges. We knew
who they were at first glance and
there were no questions about whether
or not they could save the day.
There were no varying shades of grey,
nothing in between the solid lines of
Good and Bad. The world was crystal
clear and we held each other’s hands
as we ventured out into the world,
unafraid of the dark, secure in the
knowledge that there were those
out there who only needed a moment
to throw off the shackles of this life
and rise to the occasion.
It yawns into the sunlight,
each overlapping jagged tooth
separating from the others until
it looks like the mouth of a miniature
monster. It’s almost cute, and for
a moment it looks harmless,
it is, after all, just a plant.
It is easier to see the overall
picture from across the room,
to know the exact moment when
the angle of his mouth stretches
just far enough that it is only a
matter of seconds before it
snaps back down,
trapping its prey in a
mouth that turns and grins
into the darkness,