Thursday, December 22, 2011



“In language that pulls no punches, Alicia Fisher takes on a complex world where savagery can be found just under the surface.   These poems talk back to grief, and more—they insist on compassion.  If this poet is haunted by ruin, it’s because she cares deeply for each wounded soul, and refuses to let one fall uncounted.  Brilliant language, stunning imagery, precise rhythms—Tenants introduces one sure-footed knock-out of a poet!”   Betsy Sholl, Poet Laureate of Maine, 2005-2011

“Once in a while, and not very often, I come across a poetic voice, a way of saying and seeing things, a way of communicating image and story, emotion and intelligence, that cuts through to my soul, sings to me, and I want to share that news with everyone that I know. Alicia Fisher, a Maine poet, has hit me that way this year.
I have only read her poems online, but soon Finishing Line Press will publish a first collection of her poems, and I look forward to holding that book. I keep going back to her blog, hoping that new poems will have appeared.
She says "It occurs to me that I am in fact nailing my poems in place, keeping them in time and space, keeping them occupied and bleeding."  Gary Lawless, poet and teacher

“Alicia Fisher’s unforgettable voice fearlessly engages the gritty, disturbing aspects of everyday life, this “horror show” filled with beauty and despair. The veil of illusion has been lifted, yet we come away feeling revitalized by her emotional force, wit, and humor.  Each poem jolts the senses, placing us firmly into the scene it describes. In the hands of a less skillful poet, many of these scenes would feel merely gloomy, but the vigor of Fisher’s language reminds us why we move on.” Benjamin Bertram, Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine

Happy holidays to you and you and you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For J and N, a million times


Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.—Robert Frost


It is courageous, or at least secretly brave, to use the word
love. A word that mouths open on like God or Suicide,
a word that teeth cannot chew wholly through: caustic, mythical, smashed

between dictionary pages on an unlit shelf between James Wright,
his solemn admission: I have wasted my life and Nancy Drew
with her secret rooms, pretty questions, and an uncanny intelligence

   I once believed
I wanted to have if only to chase down devils and men
in long dark coats. And devils in long dark coats disguised as men.


I stood in a field. It was late September and the air smelled
vaguely of fire, or more like the beginning of fire, long
ribbons of smoke twining from chimneys. Light spilled 

like an accident from a hole in the sky.
In that field a girl died, was killed. His thumbs
left a necklace of bruises, delicate purple pearls

around her neck. February, 1998. She was late coming
home. While her father was on the phone with the police
she was raped to silence at the base of a wintering oak.

Her ears became seashells cradling the oceanic roar
of his name. He told the cops later that he whispered
his name in her ear as he drove her body back into the frozen

ground, gripping fistfuls of her long brown hair. Fists filled
with silk, going-cold fire. Then he wrapped the warmth
of himself, those big apehot hands, around the base of her neck.


Three years later I stood in that field, bright September.
The trees dragged their palms
across the needle tips of grass, grass unbending

in the smoky wind. He’d hung her coat on the brittle hook
of a branch. I could not feel her ghost when I touched the smooth bark,
could not feel the violence that had followed her boot prints.

How could the sky could just watch, the oak
just stand there? Later that night when I felt
your breath unraveling like dim smoke from your mouth

I knew you’d come before me. Hard not to imagine you were him
I was her; the ceiling was witness to our fragile hunger, the bed
accomplice to our shy violence. Every last moment shrieking out

of its skin, on fire. She must’ve begged to escape into a snow bank,
to extinguish the horror, to freeze before dying. In this same way I climb
your body, claw my way from that winter crushed

field I saw, didn’t see, in the bloodlight of September,
from the end-roar of his name in her ear, his name from the memory
of myself in that field seeing nothing but making my way

through fallen leaves that crunched like snow to reach
her death that was not mine
but could’ve been.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Forthcoming Title

Wanted to let those of you whom occassionally swing by that I have had a book of poems accepted by Finishing Line Press. Contract freshly signed/ink drying. Certainly will keep you posted on publication timeline & promo events! Thanks for reading---whomever you are, wherever you are.

   "The blood-jet is poetry,
   There is no stopping it."--Sylvia Plath

Monday, June 13, 2011

The LSD Journals

 Everything’s In No Particular Order:
The LSD journals
(a couple of pages)


March, 1998

Because we had irreversibly clogged the toilets in both bathrooms and because our cigarettes and joints had burned holes in the expensive couches that had come with the unit (so weird, to call your living space a unit), because we were too loud and the nine-to-five neighbors had had to call the cops one too many times at all hours of the night (and day for that matter), for these reasons and more we were evicted from Pleasant Carrier Estates. Two months earlier we'd been thrown out of unit 122. We’d only been given a second chance in another condo three buildings down because Jonah's uncle was the head of the association. Unit 522 was identical to 122, except the Berber rugs were grey and not brown. But after a particularly loud, acid-frantic night we were rounded up like exotic zoo animals and escorted from the property by a couple of cops. They were both wearing those creepy rainbow-tinted sunglasses that look back at you like Darth Vader. One of them kept his hand firmly on my sun-blistered shoulder while me and Jonah's uncle (who stood cross-armed and sweating through his suit) watched my four roommates lug ugly, dented suitcases and fat, ragged trash bags onto the narrow sidewalk that ran in front of the rows and rows of harsh, identical homesteads.

All that separated the buildings were stiff pubic patches of grass, grass whose relationship to itself had been long ago bludgeoned by pesticide. I didn't have anything to take with me. Two nights ago I'd stuffed everything (which wasn’t much) but my favorite sundress and a few pair of raggedy thongs into the cracked leather suitcase I’d found sitting next to a trash bin near the bus station downtown and hauled it into the Pacific. I waded into the grim grey waves with Sexy (her real name was Sadie, but of course we called her Sexy, which she entirely was) cheering me on from the moonpale shoreline. Dark saltwater souped around my thighs. Soon I couldn’t see Sexy, or anything really. It was me and the big fishy cauldron. What was left of a fifth of Vodka glinted in my right hand. My left dragged the appropriated suitcase like a small tugboat behind me. I muttered lines from Sylvia Plath poems to the humid air. I felt like I was pushing toward an abyss. What a man must feel like just before he enters a woman, loitering between the humid tremble of her thighs, knowing that somewhere, deep deep inside her, below the sweet pink whorls of silkflesh, sharks wink and sway, sharpening their teeth on bleached bones. At some point I let go of the suitcase. It didn't sink dramatically. It didn't even float away---it just bobbed, dumb as a buoy. I could hear Sexy calling my name. Her voice was a lazy damp echo, a string of familiar notes tripping through the fog. The fucking suitcase didn’t move. Suddenly I felt a hundred paper cuts all over my legs. Salt was settling into the scratches I'd earned climbing a fence the other day. I was a pro at sneaking into shows. Before security could get a good look I'd vanished into the buzzing succubus of the crowd. Poor Sexy was still calling, her thick slurry voice hitting at a worried tone. I sloshed blindly toward the shore, but not before toasting to my small material sacrifice and finishing off the bottle. Finally the stupid suitcase started to inch away. It looked like a little brown coffin.

I waited and waited, blood zinging and blooming, while my roommates, fantastically hung-over and probably still hallucinating, wrenched themselves in and out of the condo with their things. I was glad I didn't have things. I was also sedately grateful that the cop had his apish red hand fastened to my shoulder; I couldn't get away to help anyone.

Pleasant Carrier Estates had been fashioned into a lush suburbia on the outskirts of San Jose. The whole place reminded you of a tooth-whitener commercial. For some reason the grounds were armied with small plots of fake tulips. The persimmon-colored plumage was so lifelike that you (full of jungles and electricity, writhing at the height of your acid trip) were sure, entirely convinced, that they were real. To be positive you got down on your knees in the dank, squared-off garden-patch in front of your neighbor's glowingly clean and groomed condo (they hosed the siding every weekend; if you happened out of the door while they were working they would bare their teeth at you, meaning, of course, to smile) and pushed your face into the vaginal slits of the tulip heads, inhaling so deeply that clouds were vacuumed from the sky and sucked into your lungs. What you smelled was the horrifying stench of rubber and polyester, a deep affront to every Technicolor hallelujah nerve ending in your body.

At some point, definitely later, maybe five in the morning, you sucked at something, at the pink teat of the sun, wanting for your mother, for real tulips, and tears came boiling, and you suddenly knew that the birds you heard trilling were not real singing birds after all but piped-in birds, and the pipes lined the sloped roof of the condo, slinking like thin silvery snakes above the mute robot gardens. The tulip’s only advantage was that their throats would never be cut. By then all you could smell was the sad broken fume of plastic, and it became part of you, little shards of soulless plastic running your blood like bad cells, little chips of cancer making their way, waiting to become whole, to encase your fragile frightened bones, and you curled up in that dirt bed of fallacy, such lovely falsehood, and sobbed to know that you were no different, no more real than the fabricated tulips; you cried hotly and achingly as a little girl late at night in bed, full of your mother's sorrow and your father's rage, and then the thin faced neighbor man was hovering over you in his glaring suit and his mouth was telling you something about the cops being on their way, he'd had it with you goddamn freaks, this is it finding you passed out in the flower bed, and his mouth was a cage and the dogs had been let out snarling and sweating but you were not afraid because you were already torn to the bone, riddled with bite marks: you were not afraid; the tulips blew their fumy breath at you. By the time you started to come nauseously, hellishly down from the two tabs of Jesus Christ you'd dosed, just when your spine began to tingle and stiffen, it hit you that the cops were gone and your roommates had wandered off. It occurred to you vaguely that you had no place to go. You dragged yourself three miles (some kind of zombied-out Rainbow Bright) to the bus station and bought a one-way ticket to Santa Cruz. The ticket agent seemed to think you couldn’t speak English.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Last night I could have letdown
            into your lap but the room was numb with ice
clinking people shining at each other purposefully

Seven again or maybe six with sweaty curls
           I could have lowered my body into your smoke and Old Spice
the way you lower a book whose spine is too loose to rebind

You could have held me but there was an explosion of acid
          laughter and the forlorn smell of Christmas wreaths
women with heels like vampire teeth

Remember shredding your cigarettes
         curls of tobacco on tiny pale feet hidden all day behind
the heavy red curtains book-in-lap the only real road out

Fucking cat you hissed as she hit the wall
         remember her monthlong limp and how the orange light
of the hallway terrified me like a kidnapper or a distant country

Years years ago in your summer brown arms on good evenings
        those hard ropey brown arms seven or younger and still almost safe
I descended not onto you but in


There is nothing left of that morning
except the naked rage of phones ringing,
your mother's stumbling words.
Come evening you couldn't help but look
for him in the dim unmade calamity of the bedroom,
creaking softly down the hallway, on the cold back
porch where a half-empty Coke can flashed in the leaving
light. Everything the same but his empty chair and place
at the table and the crowded silence that evening without his music
(no guitar-weeping lullaby) booming through the walls,
climbing your spine as you bent heavy over homework
with a dull pencil, math a sudden foreign language
untranslatable on the page while your brothers tried
in the orange light of the livingroom to play without
disturbing the throbbing distance between them
and your mother locked behind her bedroom door.
He'd been found on the floor. And your sister
who was nine dressed her dolls in mourning clothes,
colored a white gown black with magic marker
and made sure her doll sobbed quietly
until it was time to wrestle into a pair of thin
pajamas and tuck herself in and in compliance
with this fresh bludgeoning you, the oldest brother,
took yourself like a child by the hand and lead
your new ghost down the hallway to say goodnight
to your sister who was biting her lip not to cry
in the dark and patiently then you put your small brothers
to bed in their crumpled day clothes, told them everything would be okay.
Down the long hall your mother's door was a shield drawn
and from that you turned away. To this day.

Walk Through Negative Space

Flakes wrench themselves from the sky  
fat confetti

I push through hours 
of cold petals

The moon is old news but still
carves a path

An abandoned infant wails
in my pocket

Monday, May 16, 2011


Lovely is the wild
impassive rise of the sun.

The day boils and sings.
I lean into its cusp.

I am here. This new
is enough.

*published in Summer 2011 issue of The Cafe Review

Saturday, May 7, 2011

After the Miscarriage

Every day I study the photo
of the jungle, the limp monkey expressionless

who used to cover her young with kisses
and paralyze them comfortably with some kind

of precious jungle knowing. This time the wild
howl of the mother whose thin arms looped

like ropes around her blinking baby this time
she might really have fallen far from the tree.

Her throaty murmur is now a crescendo
of ache that could be mistaken for ecstasy

except the baby is gone and her eyes
from here look empty.

Alicia Fisher, copyright 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Last Night With Mr. Graham

Old man uproots himself like an angry tree, limps across
The rusted railroad tracks in his back yard. I remember
Those great steel cars, those beasts that used to hurdle by.
Ah! He says, Such speed. There is no forgiveness, young lady,

Only need. Obey his gnarled hands waving---C’mon, girl, c’mon.
They flutter, two crushed leaves pressed with the memory
Of his dead wife’s honeyflesh. The thin blonde son dead at three.
There is no forgiveness possibly.

I am his nurse, solemn young friend, prescription angel,
Prostitute of dreams. Pour a rainbow of pills into his cupped
Claw. It shakes without meaning. Disease, I am fragile with love.
Old man, what the war gave you was a vegetable garden,

An apple tree by the tracks heavy with rotten hearts, wormy
With grief. What the war gave you was sixty-eight more years.
Should’ve been kissed, you say, by the same bullet spray
As old Fred Murray was kissed by in ‘43. Arm in a ditch, leg

In a tree. But it missed. You bring me into the bruised shadow
Of your wife’s face. The face you kissed and craved and slapped
Once fresh home from Germany, bloodghost drunk on war.
You’d never hit her before. In two years she was dead.

You were left with the peeling house, the empty oven,
White walls shocked blue by midnight TV.
Bedroom still ripe with her gardensmell, dresses dancing
In the closet with your proud fatigues.

At eight o’clock every night you say, Girl you best
Knock me out before you leave! Like a priest I press
A sacrament to your tongue, bless you with sleep.
I watch you fade and soften in the suppertime light.

You are not listening: the quilts stop shuddering.
Mr. Graham, I am here. Goodnight.

Copyright Alicia Fisher, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

“Hello…is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me; is there anyone home?"

I never offer up anything but poems on this little piece of the blog-cosmos that I call my own--but it is late, and I don’t have a poem in me or an old one to patch up. Sure, I can bare my private parts with abandon in simile and metaphor; I can communicate most purely through the broken line—sometimes I hit it, sometimes not so much. This is just as true in everyday life. No doubt I can communicate in that certain “socially acceptable” chatty way—I swipe my debit card while yammering with the cashier, shrug and smile, tilt my head. Indeed, I am fascinated by people and wish that I could speak to my random everyday acquaintances in a more effective, compact language—having nothing to do with the weather forecast or the price of gas or where I got my skirt (it was my friend’s; she outgrew it, thank you). I want to understand why the convenient store clerk flushes and mumbles when he says Have a good one now. And the little boy across the street sits on the front stoop and fingers the hole in the knee of his jeans--his shoulders are always hunched. I want to know why he is sad. From my driveway it looks like he is singing to himself. I imagine his squeaky kid-song-whisper. I want to know: that’s why I write poems. They help me to get to those bleeding roots, the tangled places in myself that are not so different than anyone else’s—my own weird gesticulations, my own bland silences, my very raw self-consciousness.

A blog-candidate I was not. The word itself grosses me out. It sounds so…unwriterly, so anti-lingual. Like snore or scuzz. It happened that a good friend of mine was always harassing me to get my poems out there, so what, publication-smublication, the world needs poems, more poems. Your poems. My insides stiffened when she talked like this. Who the hell cares about a poetry blog? Don’t people want to read about each others’ day and dole out sewing tips? This was the same friend who held her transistor radio close to her ear as it fuzzed and mumbled its way through a local poetry show I did. K was the type whose concept of technology included the words transistor and radio—and yet she was bugging me to start a blog. She died last summer, my brilliant snarky friend. For awhile I typed letters to her for hours on end, night after night. Writing to her like that, to the furious clunky music of the typewriter, made it like she wasn’t completely gone. But that didn’t last long. I didn’t have my best writer friend. I just didn’t. So I decided to do the thing. Make a blog. It was both a cathartic and sentimental move, and I was secretly embarrassed. But I also secretly wanted a blog. There is, after all, a riot in my soul---and I don’t mind taking it to the streets. I’m just self-righteous like that---I hate to follow trends, and I especially loathe mixing poetry with them. It feels dirty and lazy. Like how I feel when my muse sniffs in disgust as I ignore her to watch "Weeds".

Yes, I know the world is unfathomably big and I, with my handful of poems, am infinitesimal—but everyone’s got their standards. I found myself compromising the latter for vanity,  or validation—I’m not sure what.  I started out with a fervor, listening carefully for the praise and spot-on criticism that K would have doled out. It’s been a little less than a year and I have 13 “followers”. What a terrible, wonderful word to have heading up a list of your poems….but the number!---so small! This is the equivalent of being on the outside of the outside of the outside of the popular group in high school, or reading a poem to a good friend whom, when you look up, is all hesitant eyes and pursed lips. Every time I post a poem it is like standing naked in front of the skin doctor under those awful snot-colored lights. All you can see is the crumpled tumble of your clothes in the corner, those embarrassing pink thongs that you meant to tuck into the leg of your jeans. The air smells like paper and whatever the doctor had for lunch.

I have caved to a certain ego-ruckus: the idea that whole bunch of people should be paying attention. To my poems. Right now. I mean, not just looking—scrutinizing. I check my ‘stats’ at least once a day. My heart rate picks up when I see that blue tracking-grid: it’s as if the grid were a heart monitor. I feel attached to it by thin, primary-color wires. Electrodes smash into each other, the lights start to fritz, my pupils dilate: okay—no flatline. Good. Good. But no major leaps either! And, comments, or new followers, or messages…I can feel my scalp tighten up. I swear my lips chap. Somehow my elbows hurt. I think to myself: Christ—what has happened to me?! These are my poems and I am treating them like e-bay items that no one has cared enough about to bid for, or fight about, or even click on. But then, sometimes, an unidentifiable silence blows into the room: it plays my ribs and sweeps my fever. It calms me in the same way that looking at my favorite picture of K does. The photo is an explosion of glitter. The glare off the camera bleaches out whatever is behind her---it is an intense, summery picture: everything is white. Mammoth Janis-Joplin sunglasses nearly smother her sharp pixie face. Her daughter is standing just in front of her, mugging and squinch-eyed. K’s teeth glitter like a row of shined-up pearls—her mouth is open in laughter: she is hauling light and heat into her summer-browned body. I love this picture. It makes me cry, or smile, or laugh. Sometimes it just pisses me off. I miss her. Missing is the color of bruised, rotted plums. Grief is a boiling, bottomless cannon. Sometimes I try to stuff that canyon with a language that makes sense. Poems make sense to me. They made sense to K.

During this unexpected and self-concious blog-life of mine, I have stumbled over grief many, many times. That happens when you are so self-centered as to feel you are nailing your poem to a cross every time you post one. It occurs to me that I am in fact nailing my poems in place, keeping them in time and space--- keeping them occupied and bleeding. At the same time I am waiting for them to land in K’s mailbox or inbox. It hits me that I am still waiting to hear back from her, dozens and dozens of poems later. I miss her searing wit and surly indictment of all things fatuous. She was my no-bullshit-zone pen pal, and my punctuation guru. Grief is like a latent, sunbaked snake.

It occurs to me that I am not distressed because I only have 13 followers, but because she is not one of them. She is nowhere on that graph. There is no evidence that she has come and gone, vivid as she was.

So it seems that I did not start this blog because she badgered me, but because I didn’t have anyone else to show my naked poems to. And so why not put them here, on the internet, which is really a peculiar and vast nowhere, for complete strangers to see? It is like bellowing across a moon-sunk lake at midnight: my voice is bound to come back at me---a depleted echo. She is not there to catch and map it, or even swim it back to me like some illustrious, wise fish. In realizing this I have been able to begin to stop fretting about who's looking and liking and perusing and dismissing. I have started to stop waiting for my remarkable, insatiable friend, which is in some ways more nerve racking. I say this, and yet I am compelled, for the first time, to write a post in prose—only to tell you that it is not so cutting anymore, this need to know that someone is paying attention. Hey---just nod if you would.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mail Payment To
for KL

God only knows how many people leave sticky notes for their dead,
Pens pressed against slump-shouldered memories.
We crawl into the safety of our sister's slit wrists.
We soak in that nest of nerves.

I scream down the freeway in my criminal lingerie.
The horizon lowers its damp standards and I am still how many breaths away
From your last? I live in a blown fog. I trace your face with matches and hold
Your poems, their rivet written in the ash of my ire.

Since then---unbrushed teeth and sad mascara; the smudge
Of sunlight across my unawake; hair looped and stabbed by some sharp debt:
A paintbrush, a pencil---Sweetheart, tame those wild curls.
Come now, I am a member of the meat packers union, a milkmaid

Leaking sweet down the street.
Last night you came in and scattered
A fistful of teeth: they stood like little tombstones at my dreaming feet.
Who leaves sticky notes for their dead to read later?

You forgot your wine-stained books. You forgot your baby daughter.
I still wait for the mail---your frantic news. I still say your name and bury you.

*Published in Summer 2011 issue of The Cafe Review

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

after a painting by Amanda Groves Kelley

You paint a crow in the middle of the table and think
to stick him with a fork. Something cruel: a shadow maybe,
or a rusting knuckle.
Creased with secrets as it is, the table cloth is surprised by nothing.
The peach-skinned man sits and melts: he has an angry inner sun
and has lost an arm to your running out of flesh tones.
The woman, she has the personality of a slit throat.
And yet her vagina smiles, exotic cunning ruby.

They sit limp as graveyard addicts,
wait for the dirt to turn and keep good company.
There, an empty plate and its indigestibles!
A fork so clean it can't be used.
The muse is out of the room.

They will sit there until the bird learns to love itself.
They will sit until the plate cracks and the fork makes good with pain.
Even the halfdead hold on to scarlet hope.
Sweetie, is there is scarlet on you pallet? It does us good to wonder where that man's

arm went. Is it with us, hidden like money
somewhere in the room? It is obvious he is done apologizing.
Soon they’ll roll a blunt and eat one another's eyes, eyes like
aborted angels or past-life genitals.
Some god's got her by the hair.
Yes, sit there with your marriageables, your private table collection.
We will bury you there.

Alicia Fisher

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Zoo-girl, your den is empty.
You have some kind of blister-condition.

Havoc and lust and long bodies. Mouths talk, teeth glisten.
Your long-winded letters are hot sobs

And ink-screams. You didn't mean to mail out
Your collection of metaphors.

Terror sucks the grapes
Of cold dictator-nations.

Days later come the lily-girls to tea.
They bring their china-smiles, their

Pale personalities. Some even bring their clean white
Children. One by one you crack their shallow

Cups. And then each chair is empty.
Air is your only friend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I wore dark glasses
not because you were dead
but because it hurt to look
into the glazed eyes
of my mother, my sister
waiting around
the visiting table: our
three careful smiles.
Of course this
was not the first breath kept waiting
for handsome you
to walk through the door, or on water.
There must be
in every father
an inheritance of love held
back, or drowned like a kitten.
What you gave I took
greedily with an endless stomach
for stone walls
and dark rooms.
I snatched it like money and tucked it
deep. There must be
in every daughter
a treasure chest guarding her
keep, or a hole overflowing with shit.
I wore dark glasses
because you were sleeping
clean-shaven in the asylum,
kept from the world
like a sharp knife in a drawer
I could take in my hand
and polish calmly for hours to see
me reflected
shining jaggedly.
Finally you came into the room
handsome you
electric with new drugs,
smelling of soap and stiff sheets.
There was a round white table between us, or nothing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I cup you in my hands
because you are that small. My heart is a battalion
of aching soldiers. This is my lonely weapon: love. Love
in her deep blue camouflage. I weep and draw a crowd
but no one sees
the numberless bones that poke
from the gutters,
broken. This is war.

Motherhood is a wound.
I hold you and you
are happy.
I am lifted into a different country.
The way I love you is a humid jungle, swaying
in its own haunted silence.
I march to the warcry and thrust into battle,
the lonely burning core.

I am the war,
the hands that seek to touch the warm pride
of your body.
You cannot speak or walk and when you cry
it is not the blind cry of a child but the muttering
of a small mathematician.
You count the bars of your wooden crib.
I lay in the dark and watch your fingers flick
across the ribs
of your bed.
I lay in the dark
and fight for our life.


Splatter Matters: things to do with the painting program when you aren't writing poems.

 I'd bet you ten dollars this applies to you.

Bruised Scorcery
Wizard Gizzards?

City at Night

Sweet chicken, the sky has fallen.

The Sun Rises Like Nuclear Citrus

Suck it Warhol

the temperamental cutting board

Cracked Windows and Blown Gutters

Summer Storm

-Indeed and Amen-


He was easy to find

hanging in his plaid

pj's from a beam in the

livingroom. She'd come to ask him

to make her scrambled eggs. Daddy?

Not horror but a six-year-old’s

solemn wail.

By then she could read

the thin colored veins

of any map--he'd hovered with her

over his bright desk

every night after supper.

He taught her routes and roads,

the endless ways

to all fifty states.

She often remembers

the peculiar loose angle

of his neck,

his face dangling grey

as a burntout bulb---

and the clumsy chair

she climbed to touch

the stubble-line

of his drool-wet jaw.

But mostly she remembers

her father's sure finger

tracing the way

to the edge of the Arctic,

whiskeydeep voice telling

of cold beyond cold,

whisker-close to her face:

In Alaska there are whole nights

of daylight! Honey, can you believe

there's a place you can go

where the night is light as day?

Maybe someday we'll fly there and see.


When you were young and your skinny legs
could run and run there was the ghost

of your father whose image pumped
through the thin pipes of your limbs

and you did move like him,
a flash across the grass under heavy gray skies.

Your eyes were his too,
green most days, sometimes blue.

You were seven when he died,
a pile of cocaine under his nose.

At the funeral they touched your face
said My Land you do look like him, don't you?

That day your mother put you in a little suit.
Little brute in a suit,

scowling at the priest.
The pounding in your chest, the thunder in your belly

was the uprising of your body,
your answer to the polished

brown casket.
The weekend after

the funeral you played kickball
in the street with the other little boys

with fathers, boys whose mothers
brought casseroles to your mother

and didn’t know about the coroner’s report
that said overdose: your father’s heart
had stopped like a clock

Your father's name was your grandfather's name
and you were the third,

the bloodline-end.
You closed off then

and did not understand how he could leave you
in the long day playing ball

casting purple shadows
against the hot streets

of your southern town.
But he left you his shed tools, his Led Zeppelin albums,

his picture.
He left you his picture

and later you blew the roof off the school
with your weird hairdo then left

for someplace he'd never been.
Your eyes green lightning