Oblígate carnivores

For months now I have walked carefully, gingerly, with the rocking gait of the elderly, infirmed, or, in my case, feet surreptitiously lamenting for the loss of the whole–

broken heart

crepe-fine skin

Liver, spleen, lungs, and stomach all exposed

As the obligate carnivores we tended as children stalk the house now


Larger than life,

Pacing hungrily to and fro

As we eye them in dismay

Their pets now


Little Lanterns

I will send you a million, million

Little lanterns

Rising points of light

from the same lit flame

Each inscribed with the story of how I lost you

How could I have lost you

When the greatest of these is love,

Little Lantern?

Dearest Girl,

Pfft. I started to write a short story about you and your fairy godmother. She is a larger-than-life-take-no-guff fictional lady who lives in a real house in a real town where we both had our hearts broken.

She had a red-brick house with an actual turret in the middle of the cozy little town Kipling called Muskrat–Kipling, who might have advised handing you over to Baloo or Bagheera had you and I met up with him in our peripatetic trips about town.

I would let you run (fast as you can) to each stop sign (but wait for me there), most alarming for the people in their cars, always concerned you would just keep running.

I realized I could not finish the story. You can’t know a fairy godmother is trustworthy on the first or the second or the 500th day. You can’t know until

You figure out for yourself why and how she stares down all comers

As the most beautiful music

Spills out over the lawn, into the dark, dark night.

The Harrowing of Hell

We ask liturgical questions, why must the dead pretend they are anything else, here in the depths of the world where we have waited so long? We resemble our former selves, only shadows now, constructing chalk outlines of the world which has gone on without us

When he breaks through we watch in awe, chalk outlined arms raised, like children who must be helped into

The clothing of this beautiful


Unsparing Prose

Unsparing means “receives no mercy.”

But I prefer just unsparing prose which would be the writing equivalent of the clean kitchen I wish I had. No moldy bread, no stale potato chips, everything organized and wiped clean,


If my prose is bare enough, then I can strip from it the insomnia and the anger and leave only the facts.

The truth without adjectives.

Simple, awful, but so far, still sparing,

Because we have so far, survived.

Writing about terrible things

I have known for some time that using the clipped, incisive, deliberate forms associated with poetry was one way to write about the devastation caused by my adopted son.

I started writing the poetry publicly when the prose seemed too difficult for people.

You could call this the “it’s too awful” syndrome, or you could call it the complicity principle. People either do not want to face the devastation and intimacy of sexual assault or they have their own story and do not really want to scrutinize how their story was handled. Notice the passive tense–change the passive tense–how they handled their story.

We have debilitating and unwarranted stigmata which we apply to the victims of sexual assault in a highly prejudicial and unscientific fashion.

All cases of sexual assault are woefully underreported, yet we claim to understand rape victims.

You cannot have a principled, scientific understanding of a condition if you force the sufferers of the condition into silence.

Nor can you ever separate the “symptoms” of victimhood out from the original crime or the subsequent, devastating consequences of enforced silence.

Every victim of a crime deserves relief, but in rape, the victim often faces subsequent harm.

They are told to be quiet or they will be marginalized.

That marginalization never stops. It can happen any time a victim shares their story.

I know because I just watched it happen again, and again, and again when my daughter wrote her college entrance essay on her rape story.

Carried Over

We are collectively surprised at how ephemeral the boat is, balloonish, easily punctured. As are we. I wonder if the others have drawn the same conclusions-we have become ghosts in our erstwhile stories, still haunted by the house, by the spouse, by the hope we left behind.

Only Lazarus whistles a chipper tune. Why is he so happy? Because nothing is a cool hand to lose.