wet sidewalks (20170118)

in the rain a cyclist passes
unprepared for the sudden showers
an orange ember glowing
at the end of his cigarette

petrichor and marlboro lights
and i am ten
and the streets are wet
and black except for the
sodium cyclops eyes of streetlamps
home has that familiar smell
and nicotine-stained curtains

a memory of shape (20160912)

the ghosts don’t have shapes, you said
it’s plain to me because the idea of a
soul is outdated, as outdated as the
idea of the homunculus the little mad
man behind the curtain telling you to
eat cookies and scratch your ass in
public

i point out that i never equated a ghost
with a human soul merely that there
were such things as ghosts and they
most definitely have shapes if not
actual substance

if a ghost is not a soul, then what is it
you ask, pressing me further on the subject

i am about to answer when the light changes
in the room and you fade out where a
beam of sunlight illuminates where you
used to sit on the sofa

winner winner (20160620)

grandma used to come over
for sunday dinner with her husband
–always called by name, never grandpa–

she and my mom would cook
enough for seven or eight of us
usually fried chicken

i don’t know what grandma thought of
my mother’s moving from husband
to husband like she was conducting
a wide-area survey but then
she was on her third husband

from the coop behind the house
grandma would pick two chickens
and wring their necks
washing and plucking them
in a tub of steaming water
until the backyard stank of wet hen
though some feathers were always
found during the meal

someone volunteered
–i think my brother, which
should have been a red flag–
to cut the throats
and hang the birds by their feet until
it was time to dress them and cook them

they gave up our plot of land
when my parents split up
goodbye to the chickens
the horses, too

from then on
everything was bloodless
and bought at the store

that one time (Poem 20160429)

i remember waking in my crib screaming
and holding a toy animal on my head

i remember being stung by a bee and my brother
putting a bandage on my finger
over the bee

i remember my sister launching me from her feet
and flying into the brickwork of the fireplace
striking just below my eye

i remember santa’s red suit one christmas eve
when i was supposed to be asleep but snuck out
of my room, catching him by the fireplace

i remember seeing the ghost of my grandmother’s
mother when i was supposed to be taking a nap
and my grandmother shushing me, though she saw her
pale faced in the doorway too

i remember collecting red ants barehanded
with my brother for an ant farm
and being stung again and again

i remember waking up to a bed shaking
beneath me and the guttural sounds of voices
in a room that was too dark to see clearly
but not too dark to see

i remember my mom’s small dog speaking to me
in plain english though i do not remember
what he said

——

National Poetry Month
NaPoWriMo Day 29
Memory