In trying to find my voice,
I’ve often let others invade me
and govern my every choice,
allowed them to persuade me
to write only in free verse
’cause rhyming’s too “sing-songy”.
They strip all of these things from me
telling me I’ll be different from the rest—
if I hang with them in starbucks
with an unkempt beard and an undercut
wearing Burnie stickers and a hipster vest.
If I’ve taken this too far,
forgive me. I didn’t mean to.
But let’s forget about who we think we are,
and focus instead on what we do.
If I get Alzheimer’s,
I think I’d like to die
before it goes to far.
I think I’d like to leave my family
knowing who I am
and knowing who they are.
I think I’d like my mind to die with me
Instead of going bit by bit—
a memory here, a loved one there…
Either way, I guess, it’s me that’s dying;
for who am I without experience?
Still, I think I’d like all of me to go at once.
I say “I think” because
I may not want to die.
I’d hate to write my life away and
then retain enough of myself
to want whatever time is left
only to have it taken from me
because of some paper I signed—
or a poem I wrote when I was 25.
Fame may validate,
but it cannot make you great.
A woman with short hair and a red sweater
smiles into the camera as she explains
that she’s been very busy lately,
and her mind is a little jumbled.
She’s been preparing to meet Ti
and the other level-above-humans
in a ship behind the Hale-Bopp comet,
which is passing by Earth a few days prior
to the planet’s recycling.
She talks about business and
casually recounts a few anecdotes.
With a coquettish grin she tells the group’s clients:
“you might need to get someone else
to finish up your website right now.”
There is chuckling behind the camera.
“And one last thing we’d like to say is”
here she taps the space above her left breast,
Star Trek style,
“Thirty-nine to beam up.”
More laughter this time.
Someone claps as the clip fades.
On the surface it’s just a funny way to end a vlog,
only she isn’t joking.
They really were all taken away—
in body bags after they killed themselves.
A child shakes out great
pillows in the sky, and the
snowflakes billow by.
It’s a brisk morning,
the kind that only comes on the cusp of spring
where the sun is high and warm and
burns the frost off the greening grass
but hasn’t yet burned it from the air.
It’s cold, I tell her as I go out.
She pushes hard on the screen door
and steps barefoot onto the concrete,
holding her arms up toward me
and trying to dance away the cold.
She’s still in her shrinking, mismatched Pjs.
There’s a hole in her left pant leg.
Get me get me!
I pick her up and carry her with me to the shed,
showing her how the latch on the fence works,
letting her open it when we come back through.
Daddy, what dat?
She points to the swing set.
We found it on a yard sale page,
dog-chewed and sun-stained
I scavenged and swapped out parts for her,
but winter hasn’t let her play on it yet.
That’s your swing set. Wanna try it out?
I put her on the see-saw.
Hold on tight, sweetheart.
I push her as the wind blows.
The sunlight bleaches her hair,
and her laughter mingles with the bird songs.
Tomorrow is the Equinox,
but, for me it’s spring already.
Seven years of pictures and videos—
senior year in high school, backpacking.,
two year mission, away at school,
engagement pictures, honeymoon travels,
first home, moving in, a floppy-eared puppy,
the pacific coast, camping in redwoods,
snorkeling in the Bahamas, pregnancy,
firstborn child, first steps,
hiking, public parks, reunions, birthdays,
second child, first words, evenings playing at home—
two hundred and fifty gigabytes of memories
meticulously backed up to the hard drive
whenever a device filled up.
If it had only 3 megabyte pictures
it would have held eighty-thousand of them.
Twenty-two straight hours
of seeing through lenses—
if it only took one second
to realize each moment,
put it on hold,
raise the camera,
and take the shot.
To watch it all in a slide show
would have taken days.
Days of the choicest moments of their life together,
times when they interrupted what was happening
to record a piece of it, trusting
they would always have the piece.
Seven years of life
perched treacherously on the piano.
little feet climb the bench
small hands find the hard drive
curious fingers fumble.
it falls to the ground.
It looks unharmed, but it’s not working.
They ship it out, they get a quote.
“Fourteen hundred dollars?!”
They think of seven years.
“We won’t miss the money,
but we will always miss the memories.”
And they’re right.
A tax return comes through.
and give the go-ahead, hoping,
willing to do without to resurrect
Weeks pass, an email comes:
the drive is broken beyond repair—
and seven years go out with the trash.
It grew in the space between walkways
where students shuffled past year round
hurrying to classes, learning
to fit into their chosen professions—
but the tree didn’t fit in. Not anymore.
It leaned too far south, they said,
and its grasping fingers had claimed
too much of the campus sky.
On a warm day in spring before its leaves budded,
a worker drove slowly to the spot
in crowds that broke around the service car.
The man stepped out and spat on the ground,
scrutinizing the trunk and branches.
He moved around the tree, peering down the walkways,
to see how it measured up to the others in its row.
More campus workers came during classes
and threw red ropes up the leaning trunk.
They hacked and hauled off the abnormal branches,
checking their work against the row
until the tree earned a passing grade.
I claim time with my girls is the best of each day,
but I’m often so tired I come in and lay
with a screen in my hands on the couch by the door
till they beg me to come play with them on the floor;
and it’s not till I’ve clambered down off of my throne
with my phone on a shelf that I’m finally home.
My soul will have to
scrape flesh from its fingernails
when my body dies.