seeing the edge of a shape

A calm I first knew 
in the warm sting
of Miami beaches
in the swell of
a wave was

enough to hold
my attention,
thankfully,
a relentless
press.

Could I be free
from chains I was
born in like my
mother and hers
before

to allow them
to break away
even as they
bruise
and clank.

Because this place
can make a person
unable
to feel or see
what is right
in front of them
when the image
blurred

by sad memory
or old pain
seems as real
as it gets-
so loud,
demanding
we remember
everything
to survive

and we
try to carry with
love, without
being angry
and with all
the fragility
still, so

we will not become
the darkness,
we might become
the very thing
that keeps balance.

Some say
this world is soft to
lessen the blow,
and I feel the
partiality of it
limiting-

I cannot
in hand hold
this beautiful place
the complicated petals
layer upon layer
like a chrysanthemum
without holding
the dark, as it is
between each
shining edge
a defined line
showing

this petal and that petal.

And instead of running
from everything
known
like I did at first
like happiness
was a thing
ran into, suddenly
behind a door probably
someone else opened
waiting to be found,

one day, I began to see
in places that
cannot be touched
by perspective
too much like
on a snowy, narrow
pass in the Cascades
where my heart
could still
its panic:
in that moment
a rush of wind
is beautiful
because I live-

I knew to go
looking after
the waves.

And the vast words
held too long
unsure of how
to say them
having not defined
what was indefinable
could split ice
and rock
beneath the places
I kept running

and I would simply
slide
for awhile.

It took some years
to become still enough
that my own shaking
could not unground
my thoughts/

and longer
for the hold
to take place
that is space kept
for knowing things
as they are
as much
as is possible
in any moment
without needing it
and with all
the uncertainty

where I could look
at what had happened,
these chaotic moments
and grief
that could crush
who I believed
myself to be,
to look back instead
with love for the sake
of love and gratitude

that I was myself
all along, especially
in the rainforest
walking, or with hands
digging into the ground
another living thing
having not much choice
in things, like lavender
with its sweetness
for no reason

to give it water
when it would not rain,
part of the learning.

Can you see
where the heart
will survive
by it’s aching,

running to be free
knowing what is
and isn’t worth
staying for,
is as basic as
need of air
if in a place
a person feels
their own thoughts
cannot be trusted

when it is mostly
the thoughts of others
like a sidewalk, broken
but you try to run
and trip.

But finally
to hold still
in the calm of
knowing the dark
as it is, dependent
upon that which grows
and thrives/ maybe
a glimpse
on a mountain pass
quiet enough defines
the edge
of your self

when it is difficult to see,
you have held it.
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a cautionary tale – Zelda to F. Scott Fitzgerald from the hospital

Dear Scott, 

Remember how I told you,
“I am really only myself
when I’m somebody else whom I have endowed
with these wonderful qualities from my imagination?”

I’ve been thinking, all those pieces of me
are like pecans in a loaf of bread
baking in the oven and as it bakes,
those pecans get further

divided by space
and fluffy dough stuff/
think that’s why space
with all its soundless,
cold in-between
was something
I didn’t care for at first

but now I look up
and see myself
in the reach between stars
in the places of nothing:
a soundless place
I can speak and
hear it.

I am not silent in a clothes basket,
4 years old and thinking I am hidden-
no, I am un-shelving continents
with my dancing
with my love
having everything to say
and nothing worth saying,
according to myself.

When I went insane, love
I was caught up
being every version of me,
a puppeteer holding the strings
poised but unmoving
uncertain in where
this one goes or
that one came from/

‘they’ see
an effervescent, socialite
dancing on tables, and
I believe I’m showing daddy
I don’t need hard work
to build character,
that my beauty is enough
but, truth is
I was working hard,

I could live off the wistful smiles
on boys faces and be plump
as a jelly bean
stuck to their cheek,
that sweet aching
they don’t really like
but take all the same.

I was many versions of myself
scattered around a sun
and I could feel a warmth
but it was skin deep
and these parts of me searched

one tip-toeing on the event horizon
with a spoon in her mouth
flask of vodka on her hip
and another draped along Europa’s
smooth surface orbiting Jupiter,
her tidally locked, lover

(they say Europa spins faster than its orbit,
because the stuff inside is unbalanced, Scott).

Remember when I jumped in the fountain
in my red swimsuit? The space between stars.
Remember how our feet burned on white sands
bright as whiskey fire when we lived
at the end of everything

and the beginning of anything?
That burning was close as we could get
to finding the sun I speak of.

I was most beautiful
picking all the things I love
about people all the things
I love about living: laughter, dancing,
drinking- all the things that please me

scant almost too much
the way men turn me
like hands turn the pages
of a book

a blank page
opened in the night
and wanting to be
filled, or to know
finally, what do you find
between the stars
and the sun?
and was it enough.

On that beach we lived for awhile
where I should have felt some peace,
my hunger just became greater/

all those versions of me I created
and not one sun upon which to orbit
like the pecans in that loaf,
I am lost now

foot stuck in an air pocket
in that fluffy stuff and
100,000 versions
scattered across the universe-
the paths are all broken

or were they just
never charted.

Before you sent me away
sometimes I would think of baby birds
when hungry, but I wouldn’t know
I was hungry or
I’d think of a zipper over the mouth
of little girls and all the stories
that could be told

watching our daughter reading
under the oak tree
and didn’t know
there was a sadness,

I just kept dancing
hours upon hours
so I could be as
worthy as you were
to be alive.

And, when I said to you,
‘People look like ants in a bottle’
I was just afraid I was the same as them,
these people that looked like strangers
walking in circles and
that I was a stranger, too

all of us like ants
marching in straight lines,
protecting the queen, carrying
bits of leaf back to our anthills, so

I needed to love you first
and live incidentally
and that’s really
the story,

don’t you think?

Now, all these grown men
try to fix what’s gone wrong
with shots that make me shake
with violence,
and my mind is hoarfrost clinging
to bare branches,

my self, a ghostly butterfly
too insubstantial
to rest on the flowers/

I wish
I’d stayed with the girl
in the clothes basket. She
liked to talk about happy elves
in a make-believe place
everyone told her she needed
to leave behind, but she

is real, can follow the path
from her smile to
the stories creating
who she will be
when she is stronger
if she trusts
she is strong

and not a woman
who needs you.

I am the empty cup
with no handle,
the handle is somewhere?
Maybe
it was your hand on my stomach
as you slept maybe
I am a little girl you told
could only bloom when
you were sleeping
so you could be

F. Scott Fitzgerald
without inconvenience.

No one could have survived us, Scott,
but everyone really did love me,
didn’t they? All of my
stars and the space
between them,
if I could choose again
to chart the paths
with someone by my side:

you, my family, this world
or even my own heart
if I would stop and
feel this hunger.


in caves

Sunflowers
grow | beneath
cliffs, a din heard
in the mouth
small sound
of

roots deep,
stems bracing 
waves that crash
high like a hand
held to the face
with eyes closed
pauses all
of it

here,
some will arrive
by wandering
but it is dark
and so much 
unknown 
to wander
freely or 
consider 
to stay.

We see only
their crowns
as they breach
the unseen,
their beginning
is close, just
a step
into a place
the sun holds
without ever saying,
hello/

we could know them:
their bright faces
petals a happy 
yellow and lovely,
framed in what some
would say is joy 
but they are shaking 
their heads slowly 
no, yet again
with each rising
and setting, 

they follow from
the place they
would leave
if only these
deep roots
inch by inch
would pull
free
-

Did you know 
stems grow in
the night to
the west so
the head can 
sway to the east
at sunrise. The
stem guides

like stars in the
night, desert sky
are persistent
or pollen on
a honeybee
is small 
easy to miss
but irrefutable/

they,
are guided far 
round cold corners
wide, clementine
eye, happy and 
content/ how
the heart
keeps the mind 
stays the heart
to keep on

and the sound 
in this hidden place,
brushing upon
damp walls: the
wind at the end 
of its journey
over wave
and accidentally
in this hollow
 
is song like 
woman who
whispers, do not
let me break,
please but
same way,
rounds corners
and rejoins
the sky-

wandering
you may slide  
cliffside into 
deep ocean,
not seeing
it is a cliff
where waves
will slam 
the mark of
this place,

and will swim
near a place
dry but dark
and cold
when no one
is around
to see you.

Wild sunflower
grow, long 
stemmed
and 
leave, I  
would say
this old cave- 
eventually.
Eye following
the sun even
as it sets with
you, no madness
or sad keeping
of memory but
growing round 
cold walls into
the quiet beauty
one day, of 
knowing nothing
 
of the previously known.


paper crane prayer

Blooming in dark alleys
these bullets called innocence:
children who discover the world
sting my eyes

these bullets called innocence
pepper on the page
sting my eyes
and they are wet

like my father’s 
when reading, The Little Prince
and they are wet
between the pages

when reading, The Little Prince
and I am riddled with responsibility
between the pages 
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark 

and I am riddled with responsibility
leaning between pages now a pause
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark
this tired from saving the world

leaning between pages now a pause
thinking what kind of story is as good as:
this tired from saving the world
and knowing/ the beauty of night jasmine

thinking what kind of story is as good as:
children who discover the world
not knowing the beauty is them,
blooming in dark alleys.

habitant

The people we play
the ones remembered

from memory or some story
a ghost beneath the nail we
scratch at hunting fathers'

tender and mothers' dreams
splintered beneath unkindness/

it's the mantle of yesterday
of what is loved and not
yet owned or even known.

Still we choose to be brave
to live a life kinder, flowers are
on the table because we thought

to walk to a garden, coffee brews
on a Saturday morning, little feet
already rushing beneath the sun.
My heart, does

a war rage outside the window?
Are the people who wage it
good? When I blow upon

the palm, even in this
dim light dust looks a little
like stars, and I decide

there the universe is
in my own hand,

and the children receive
this debt, a path lit
by this child we stay,
a joy that is owed.

dear wildcat

winter comes again in time and our
skin splits/ the heckling of stars:
the way implied, they could

be a sun, be the warmth
spoken of, yes I know
and we instead cracked

cups glued many times
hold fast.

how small the earthquakes warn
of a shatter and maybe
we choose to tie the rope tight
instead, tight around

our own eyes-

my dear friend, hold
the hands of your choosing
eyes shuttered and heart wild
with hollow rage like

a sun burns
from its self until done.

and what can we choose but
an anthem of joy or
despair?

dear wildcat, please free yourself
of the hunters trap and if
you must chew your own
leg to be free, be free

or if the rope is tight
and just right, I will try to
find you if you ask,

because I know your wild heart
and you know I am cracked
and full of nuance/ how you

came along and saw me going again

above the waves, breath held
to go down again but I stay
where nothing will rip
feet from sand, even
the crash all around/ but
you could see that I was tired-

it will be a choice, my dearest friend

to let an anger go that will not
destroy your enemies, at the
knowledge that nature is unjust
and will not strike down those who

would harm but give them chance
after chance… for you and I
to speak truthfully and
uncomfortably is

the only justice.

so pull the wound wide
and see like the ocean waves
there is no choice

but to return to the shore pounding,
flailing as a storm brews or in a sleepy slumber
beneath a still blue free of everything
but the pull of time, no choice

but to hold, “thought by thought.”

through the trees

I smell gardenias when I think of warmth,
feel smooth, hardwood under still new feet
how little hands can scale old

umbrella trees like that iguana
castaway one morning after a hurricane
I spotted arching up into the leaves

and little feet swinging in the air:
how I hid a small cache of treasure
perched on a branch

just like him/

shiny plastics from my costume
I wore during the warm, Miami nights
twirling and dancing in parades

flipping on the black asphalt,
sometimes landing on my knees still,
and unconcerned I’d collect the

shiny stones that fell off and
put them in the tree hole somewhere
high up- reminded of how I could shine

so bright when I moved quickly,
how people watched
entranced with my spinning.

One evening after dark
I played on the sidewalk on my own
an only child and wildly imaginative

and spotted the cactuses slowly opening their flowers

like they did every night: a night-blooming
cereus that I went over to put a tiny lizard,
a green anole, on its topmost point

of green just above the little spike

how it launched itself into the darkness
between itself and the ground way below-
my alarm and wonder at his tiny bounce

before he ran. What if, he had stayed
atop the blooms having been placed
so safely by my hand,

where the stars above were now closer
and the grass that usually towered, tiny
and inconsequential? And, I hoped

it would feel freedom like I did
up in my tree, free from all
the must-dos and perfection

the pressure to remain small
but be admirable. I found myself
closer to myself in every treetop

or perched on a floating log
in the partially frozen alpine lake
one spring or stepping further

into the warm waves of the Atlantic
where all that is heard now
is time and my own heart.