The tailor stands outside his shop
on the corner of 2nd and Jackson,
smoking a cigarette, transforming
his storefront into an art installation.
Once he goes back inside, installation
becomes performance art. Large red
vinyl letters cling to the window
and if you peer beyond them you can
see him attentively, rapidly hemming suits.
The needle darts perpendicular to the fabric
like a beak of a metallic woodpecker.
The stitches become train tracks
parallel to seams once stitched
by other machines.

& somehow the smell
of tobacco never transfers from
beneath his efficiently trimmed nails.

Writing in Coffins with Edith


Dame Edith Sitwell wrote while lying in an open coffin.
Her flair for the dramatic and proclivity for exotic costumes
made her the target of ridicule for some. She never married.
Tonight, I reach out to Edith. We sit in a pair of open coffins
facing each other. She, with pen and paper, me, with laptop.
Her coffin is mahogany and lined with red velvet.
Mine is made of cherry and lined in leopard print.
We are not morbid, but we are prolific,
writing poems as quickly as they will come.

The coffins summon the spirits of poems yet unwritten.

Dickinson shudders from her ethereal cabin
while Lowell raises an eyebrow as she smokes her cigar.

Woolf stands in the corner and nods, because she understands.

Edith and I write lying down,
passing a decanter of sherry
from coffin to coffin and back again.

Our fingertips never touch, but
we are for each other, Edith and I:
it is only when we write poetry
that we most feel like ourselves.

24 Paper Lanterns


I am sealing you
in paper lanterns
and sending
(all of) you
up into the night
as a sacrifice
to the blood moon.

I finally counted.
In 29 years,
there were 23 men
who didn’t love me back
in the same way.

And two who did.

One who I left,
and one who left me.

Tonight, I send 24 lanterns
into the night sky,

24 “no thank you” (s)
“I don’t think of you
in that way” (s).

I am ready to let go
of the hurts,
both real
and imagined.

Ready for past rage
and the atmosphere
to burn them all up.

Beautiful disintegration.

Broken Heart, Found Poem



Your intensity is what first drew me to you.
The way one look from you made me quiver
in all the right places.

Your darkness always overpowered my light.

I have always been able to survive on a minimum
of affection–I just need to see the slightest
intention and then I fall hard, with maximum
velocity. When you fall that hard, that fast,
the force of your impact is bound to be devastating.

I was wrong. Now immobile.

My heartbreak is vast,
and I am the cause of it.

I philosophize a grand eruption:
drinks thrown, tables overturned,
your ego crushed,
me exiting triumphant.

But I lack the courage to execute it.

I am unable to find your equivalent.

You have moved on and I remain.

Replacing an infatuation has never been an obstacle before now.

You used to whisper
eloquence into my ear
and now I will not
let you get close
enough to have access.

The gallery is slightly louder than silent.

A woman a white lace fedora narrates the paintings
in Italian to her sister who wears a camel colored
sweater with garish roses covering the right shoulder.

I should have been Italian:
then my inner fire would be appropriate.



Do not ask me what lies beneath.

The darkness that I carry inside myself
has existed since before I had an earthly form:
red and black and unimaginable,
the sewage and lava of the soul, remnants of sin,
the decomposition of lies told and relics of secrets unkept.

When you ask me “Where did you go?”
the answer is always here.

Hades, Persephone, Eurydice
are bedfellows in this
damp landscape that
constricts as it expands.

On the worst days,
I fear it will envelop me in suicide.

On the best days,
it is the source of all my power.

Les Oiseaux Qui Rire


(Translation: the birds that laugh.)


Sitting on the roof of the sanctuary
four crows cackle as they
see the prayers rise from
the weekly service below.

The sermon is on forgiveness,
a topic which the crows disdain:
one should act without apology.
(this is the crow’s manifesto.)

When they congregate,
crows are called a murder.

Black ink drips from their
feather tips, penetrating
the holy hinges and dropping
on the heads of selected congregants.

This is a new kind of baptism:
the blood of crows, spilled for you.

Ridicule in ink spots.

Femme en transe, (After MirĂ³)


Underneath bombs and stars
she stands rapt,
mesmerized by the space
that encompasses the distance
between reality and possibility.

There is peace and there is chaos.

The red light of her mind’s eye
throbs, insinuating
the next crisis of anxiety.

Her left hand holds a scythe
to level the fields of the past,
while she thrusts her right fist
into the hornets’ nest
of Pandora’s box.

The future looks on,
exasperated, impatient
for her to move forward
into what cold be.

Bloodfits, Rewritten


the inevitable adheres me
to the stairs, each step affixes more
and I adjust the anchors of my shoes

my makeup attached to my face
the mirror binds my gaze
film noir camera bolted behind
(I didn’t know how strong a bond)

discordant tones brace me
for the next cheap catch

silhouettes connect & violently cohere

we read, couple, holding hands (glued
together) break up then get hitched

diamond encrusted stumps hold us prisoners

you hooked me once with your musk
enticing me to tie the knot

the waves latch over Virginia
cursing the bloody united never



torn between
what I want to do
and what I must

my heart rages
and growls

the back of
my neck
with red hot

thrusting a
into cold sand
I am able to
cut out
the parts of
my life
that bind me

I grow claws
and fangs


that impede

The Velvet Poster Gallery of the Mind


, , ,

I want to wake up next to you on Easter morning,
tickled by the ends of the braid you wear to bed.

During the night, I will have slipped away to hide
neon plastic eggs filled with your favorite sweets.

When you wake up, I will whisper, “Good morning,
darling, Happy Easter” and your modest smirk will
expand into a Cheshire grin when you realize that
rainbow sugar-filled orbs have been squirreled away
for you.

I imagined this joyful holiday tableau
while taking the long drive home from work, and
it made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

I will color this faux tableau with magic markers
and hang it in the velvet poster gallery of my mind.

Sniffing markers to gather the courage to pick up
the phone and ask you on a proper date.


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