Moro Reflex

Today, I am no longer
a relic wrapped in furs.

Leaving you, mother and
leaving you, father, oh!
I feel as mean as a harlequin baby.

But now,
I am human again, able
to extract fingernails
from my palms.

my body asks for things:

I see my love move,
india ink eyebrows
on ghosty vellum and
I press and press and press
his calligraphy to me


How heavy, to carry a whole apple in one's eye.
My stomach holds,
maybe, some broth
if I am especially nice today.
Feet, a bit of smudged paint (but
only for a while) stems, an etching
of black,
only shades,
misbehaving deer eyes,
they above all will not cut it out.
How did this body become a drooping sunflower?
An oozing sapling? Who are all these shades, with loud buckets,
and what do they want with such young amber?
Syrup-maker, wedding baker, you succulent
succulent protector: tell me how you hold so
many sugar stones. Things are so tender am I
too tender to


I hover

Somewhere the phone starts ringing, loud,
it is early morning, we are in a Swedish room on a hard perhaps-good-for-you Swedish mattress, those goddamn Swedes, and
the phone starts ringing. It hurts the annals between my ears.
To be able to encase these records, hundreds, thousands, goddamn thousands, in tobacco and love-making and moldmust sleep, I need this. When I am awake, my thoughts poke at the bark of my eyes,
my eyes are always barking,
as the corners of books, incisors and pages, the encyclopedia of ugly and girlish suburban trauma.
You, asleep in cotton and the dirt of  mid-state, wrap
your square big boy hands around my ears. You do this and you are still asleep. You do this to keep me from hearing the morning news.

Suppose one could say I have spent my life looking up up up and up a bell tower. White kisses from pigeon ass, God's dandruff, the spit of an altar boy who licked church walls and found them lacking. These careen wildly downward into my hair. And maybe, for a long time, that phone would have meant that: news, bells, new news of coming bells, coming men, a coming cavalry I would tire of completely and spit in another's eye, I am so used to holding bad flavors under my tongue. And maybe I would have blamed you for robbing me of that, when you covered my ears. The frabjous day! But you knew something deeper, you knew I needed not to hear it, you knew and you were hardly you, asleep so square and thin with bitumite greek hair on a damp hard mattress. You continue, today I leaned against those prodigious man thighs of lightning while you slept. You continue to block out false bells, you opened that bow mouth and let loose some arrows: "You're my girl. Swear it?" The bells of rutting time.


Conquest of the Persian Empire

I sleep on a bed of centipedes and sharp wood corners.

I sew meager pillows

from all the colors you leave trail to,

(from your sinews and frame of olive bone corners)

you trail burgundy,

and white and the nighttime fog that
is your breath you cover me, all titian. A titan.

What holds these colors is something like
mean cotton, 5-thread-count, it ages my face,

and in return you give me nothing.

You stomp in, Alexander, and say: "I accept you as a gift from the Gods!"

and all my centipedes scuttle away. Prince, your tongue laps at the salt
under my eyes and so the soldiers cannot be paid. Prince,
everything before you seems ashes. The Gordion Knot is
nothing, you say,
and rubbing your olive skin, I reach the pit of nothing--
an antediluvian domain.

My grief is mine my grief is mine my grief is MINE my grief is MINE my grief is MINE MY grief is MINE MY grief is mine MY grief is mine MY grief IS mine MY GRIEF IS MINE MINE MINE MINE

I am the Fat Man. He is starving for sugar
and opens his artery
and drinks and tastes honey
in his blood,
thank god,
it is so sweet.

Maudlin Madeline lies in the backseat
of an auto. As the auto bowls through
an ace bandage high way Madeline opens
the door. Plains rush by and her head is upside down.
She thinks, I need a haircut. She knows,
I have no money. As maudlin Madeline
lies in the backseat she sticks her out of the door and her hair drags along the road.
When the auto hits a pothole and
her head comes clean off her neck,
we DON'T say, "What a tragedy,"
we do say, "What a fool."
It is stupid, stupid, stupid to
trust the road to behave itself.



Year thirteen. An orchestra of Pharoahs
means nothing to me,
I am woman-child anomaly, striding
past umbrella carriers.

Aboveground, boys dream
of plums. Wax blooms split
down the groove of yellow stone fruits
(My legs
spreading like melting butter
over the toast of morning waking).

Year seventeen. The vaultkeeper,
the image-maker, the water-teemer
and soil-sower bandage all palms
with fig leaf.

Soil can only clap soft. I miss my call.
Hushing us is natural. Without it,
Lady cicada only eats French bread,
she dips baguettes in colors for
some weeks.


I can no longer inspire ecstasy in you. I am familiar, you feel almost avuncular. Perhaps your hand does not find my cheekbones like your car finds its way home, perhaps your mind has not relegated my body's roadmap to that automatized part of your brain, but it is getting there, it is getting there. the thought of marrying me should be more like wet apples.


I cite the repackaging of a quote:

"I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever” "I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever”


Left Index Finger

She knew the long knife would slip even before using it. The parmesan felt cold and dusty in her right hand. She pushed the cheap blade against the block of cheese slowly, both hands on top of the handle. Pushing her weight toward the counter, she breathed a warm frustration. When scarlet jumped out her skin like scarves from a magician’s hat god damn knife slowly on the counter paper towels where are they where are they where are oh and arm over bathroom skin some yellow thick dotted fatty tissue flap the skin back over doesn’t need stitches and if it does too bad I don’t have the cash right now paper towels will have to suffice the blossoms of blood kept blooming it’s springtime in my hands.

The blood stopped and she wondered how she was going to wash her hair the next morning. Her little hands with bonier fingers. She lifted the paper towel and the red twisted in between her hands again, diving onto her thighs. She had stayed in bed all weekend, her oily hair now bituminous at the roots. The footsteps of rain on her balcony mimicked the footsteps that used to come to her room, joining her on those scratchy plum sheets. On rainy days, she forgot all about the delicate moments of a woman’s solitude.

He was her lover before they even spoke.
She immediately knew he was an American, like her. To the untrained eye, or perhaps someone less desperate for contact, he could have been a Spanish intellectual, an Anglophile, one of those post-Almodovar hipsters with a thirst for all things American (an affliction which touches all countries, not just China, or Japan, come to find out). The stature of this man seemed decidedly Spanish, all compactness and several inches above femininity, and his hair could have been Spanish, tight unruly brown curls, and not an inch of his skin whispered WASP. But the clothes gave it away, and the sprawl in the expat bookstore's biggest leather armchair. Only an American would happily, so comfortably, claim such a perch on foreign ground. He was reading an anthology of short stories. The next time, another, but in Spanish. Then in Basque, then in Spanish, then Neruda poems in English. And she watched him and he sometimes followed her outside, when she took a break from reading, and bummed smokes. He was a man who believed that everything had been written. Her choice of Spain over Bolivia. His being from Wisconsin, the state of her father’s childhood farm. Her weakness for curly hair. Their repulsion for one another. They fought often. His cruel sense of humor summoned hers. And she was glad the people who passed by the shop, as they stood outside, could not understand English.

But he fucked her in her mind. And fucked her. And fucked her. And she said nothing to initiate an affair and neither did he. One afternoon she burst out, “Why haven’t you asked me to dinner yet?”  In that moment sounds blended like watercolors. Her hands shook so she put them down on something anything oh, against the building, cheeks scarlet pulsed with her now short and sharp breaths in out in out in why isn’t out he in responding out in out his eyes are so big and God look at that curly curly hair in out fuck why did in I out say anything at all and he told her, roughly, “You’re used to being catered to. You won’t get any of that from me.”


She somehow ended up spending the night on his couch. A group of her friends had wandered around until she missed the metro going to her apartment. She stood at the bottom of his street, looking at the Spanish plaza behind her, and then up his street. Down, and up. She told herself to walk down to Charles III, toward his fleet of humorless taxi cab drivers, and her feet carried her up Montera, toward him. Her favorite street in Madrid. Tiny prostitutes, old prostitutes, black prostitutes. The police stood at the very top and watched these girls be bought and sold like cheese. She stopped to light a cigarette and leaned against a doorway. A drunk, jaundiced eyes rolling back into his skull, started snaking his way toward her. She froze, only for a moment, and then continued to walk up the street. A stocky young girl with platinum hair grabbed a young man walking in front of her. “¿Quieres follar?” She asked mockingly, “¿Quieres follarrrrr?” The man asked her how much and they began to squabble. She walked behind them slowly, forgotten cigarette between her lips. Her feet reached his door. She stepped onto the stoop, in between three prostitutes. Two ignored her and the youngest, maybe thirteen, pursed her cracked lips and cackled something in Serbian to the others. She flushed and rang his bell. Come on, come on.

They sat on his hard white couch. She tucked her knees into her chest and her chin into her knees while he spoke. They got up and leaned out his window, smoking cigarettes. He told her that the place selling gold across the alley was a front for a whorehouse. He quoted, “Love is kinda like, you know when you see a fog in the morning, when you wake up, before the sun comes out for just a little while, and then it burns away. Quickly.” He told her that he thought she was a beautiful woman. He offered his bed and she refused. Offered and refused. He told her to suit herself and started up the stairs.
“I still belong to someone else,” she said to his back.
“What am I supposed to do with that information?” He disappeared over the landing. In the morning, he told her she could stay while he went to the doctor. She left with him. He held her on Gran Via before turning away and walking toward the bus.

Their skin collided one night. They followed some friends into a salsa bar in the center. The walls were a gleaming white and the Spanish women gleamed too, in tacky sequined dresses and garish lipstick. He leaned against a pillar, his drunken curls pressed flat. She shifted from leg to leg and asked him to dance with her. His gaze cascaded down his Roman nose as he watched her speak to him, his eyelashes feathery fans. The trio of lights pink blue green and jazzy quick salsa pink blue green faded into tinkling chandeliers, a cough through thin apartment walls, when he grabbed her waist and spoke into her hair, kissed her cheekbone. Spoke into her hair. Kissed her other cheekbone. Pressed his forehead against hers. Pink. Pushed her away from him. Pulled her back. Kissed her eyelid. Blue. Murmured on her nails. You have beautiful curls. Cheekbone. Forehead. Air like footsteps on her hair. His mouth covered hers. “Let’s get out of here.” Green. Trumpets. Sequins. White. Green.

They simply slept. She awoke around 6 am, feet cold and back aching. His mattress was hard. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t breathe because his head was buried in her breasts.

After an hour she had used an entire roll of paper towels. She peeled the duct tape off her window that covered the inch-long crack in the glass. It had some adhesive left, beneath some hairs and a matte black bug. She wadded some of the tissues against her wound, that yelling flap of skin, and held them in place with the silver tape. She slept on her side, arm carefully erect. Elevated above her heart, like suggested. In the morning she swept her hair into a bun and walked to the peluqueria two blocks away. Twenty euro for a wash. She lit a cigarette and sat on the bench in front of the salon. Twenty euro for a fucking wash. She took a drag, imagining that the wizened Spanish man next to her could smell her greasy hair. Drag. Her finger pulsed. A bruise was mysteriously forming on the web between her index and middle fingers. Drag. Twenty euro. Jesus. Drag. Toss.

The city got to be too much so she disappeared for a few days, a week, no one could really say. She found a shopping bag crumpled in the corner of her tiny room and threw in some torn lace panties, a hard baguette, her passport. The bus station was full of sweating Spaniards. She followed a man speaking Basque onto his bus and ended up in Bilbao. The only available pension was on the river, far from the center and next to a factory. The old woman who lived above the room cooked her squid in its ink when she came home from wandering around in the humid downpour. In the middle of the night, she curled up in the corner of the room and called the man in Madrid.
She said, “I can’t find an accurate map of this town.”
He asked her, “Where are you?”
She hung up and waited until the bus left for Santander, at dawn. She met an Italian surfer with an unwashed dick and a girlfriend in England. When his heart ran out of rooms, he told her, he built more. “The human heart can do this. It can surely do this.” He took her to meet his friend in another pension. She followed him up the stairs and found herself in an apartment, alone, with the Italians. The rooms were completely bare, except a dentist’s chair in the corner and some tattoo ink in little bottles on a small table. Large photographs of porn stars, orange-skinned and wide-cunted, shouted from the white walls. After some time, they left and went to a bar. The bartender was another surfer, also Italian. Mario.
She left for San Sebastian at dawn. The unwashed Italian followed her there. They spent the day on Zurriola, chaperoned by Jesus on the hill. Watched him drink crimson aperitifs until midnight, supported his rippling trunk back to the hostel, where he stripped her of clothes on the balcony and put his hand inside her, lifting her body above the railing. He told her she was beautiful and deserved the world. She smirked, she left for Madrid in the morning.

She found the man in a club owned by his cousin, all moist air and perfumed men. Cabaret dancers wearing nautical lingerie lined the walls, dancing in elevated cages. He was sitting on a pleather purple couch drinking Mahou, trashed, hands in a Spanish girl’s crispy dry hair. When the young thing wandered away, he stood up and approached her, interrupting as she leaned on the bar and flirted with one of the dancers. He grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up the stairs, livid. He had worried, he said. She lit a cigarette on the sidewalk and thought of the Italian, thought of how bored she looked. He shoved her against a car and, when she straightened herself coolly, shoved her into a closed storefront, covered with sheet metal. She sucked in her breath.
She told him, “You don’t mean enough to make me angry. Tiny man. You’re nothing to me.” He disappeared inside the club for a moment, returning with her purse. He hailed a cab and ushered her inside, arranging himself after her while she gave directions to his apartment.

He said, “Tell me you don’t want it. Fucking say it.”
She smirked into the sheets, “I don’t want it.”
He twisted her neck back, fingers gripping her ballerina chin.
“Tell me you’ve never thought about it.”
“I can’t. I can’t.”
“Tell me it’s the smallest dick you’ve ever seen.”
And when it was over, he said, “Now I have to wash my fucking sheets. Get up.”

In the morning, they began to fight at the breakfast table. Politics, probably. His roommate and the roommate’s girlfriend ate mechanically, timidly, until his roommate stood up angrily. “You guys have the baggage of five years in two months. Please. Leave.” She took off his sweater and gently shut the heavy apartment door behind her, sleepy feet bicycling down the steep stairwell as she fumbled for a cigarette in her coat. She threw her cell phone in the trash and entered the metro stop on Montera, heading to her apartment.


She smoked another cigarette and stood up from the bench, trying to smooth her rumpled hair. The greasy strands stood in stubborn salute, the slight pressure of her hair bringing a sharp ache to her finger. Although trying not to swing her arms while walking, the bandage was seeped with dregs of blood by the time she got home. More wads of paper towels, another strip of duct tape, a nap and some painkillers, arm above the heart. She woke up when it was dark, dismissing the possibility of paying for a hair washing.

She wondered if he would wash her hair. Wondered if she could bear to let anyone else see her naked. Wondered which would feel more like being shoved against metal sheeting of a store front. Fumbling with her covers, she leaned over the bed and looked underneath it, searching for her cigarettes. She lit one and ran quickly from her room to the balcony on the other side of the apartment. The streetlights lit the night a sickly orange. Drunken Spanish boys walked under her and called up to the girl above them, smoking, legs and cunt visible despite the height and iron bars she stood on. She waved back and then yelled, “FUCK YOU!” The boys laughed and then stumbled away, singing “Fack you fack you fack you.” She finished her cigarette and turned, opening the balcony doors into the living room. Instead of walking inside, she placed her bleeding hand on one of the French doors, the left side, and then slammed the right against her hand. Again. Again. Three times and all she did was breathe dark and deep and long. Kicking off her slip, she held the black satin under the purple swollen digits and walked into the bathroom. She turned on the shower and, before the hot water could run out, quickly shampooed her hair.   


The Lady Doth Protest

Crickets run ghostly through the valleys of
a mother's rug, and
they break my heart (Lucky insects are
a privilege of the superstitious).

Chests creak wooden under the weight
of my body domestic. I am
bored by holly, ever green
never queen never thornier than
rose, cranberry,
gilded, stern-faced men.

Shame-tarps drape us (like the
envelope warming wedding invitations--
Humbert and Lo? Claudius and Gertie?
Unintimate woman with so-and-so?). My
care only knows low blows.

These words, thought after-thought,
trap and toss crickets.


At least Y isn't Z.

Dear Baby,

dear baby, come home baby. I miss you only maybe because you aren't home,


I search trees in hopes of you. I found some in Dante, Gilgamesh,

my night was cedar and jewels, tobacco smoke and a fool who

bought me breakfast food and seems somewhat cruel

with blonde hair and blue eyes too. I know this means nothing to

you, baby. True words were said, maybe, but not as true as

truer drier

poems you read to me, lately. And then I find you've been

home, baby. And I realize I'm just a toy reflecting

some love stories you've been wanting to play-act,

lately. Like when we play house and make-believe,

stately in sand boxes and cardboard boxes,

under mother's date tree. You ask too much of me.

I am little seeds, dry cranberries, tasteless

until you consume three of me. You're hurting this lady,

baby. I think you want a little girl who seems crazy.

I flat-out refuse to be a bird in that tree, baby. I was that way

across the sea, only months ago, back in January. It almost

killed me. I swore up and down I saw Hades. Solomon's sin

crept into you too, baby. Cause we're torn in two, clearly. And

now it's messier than it can be for this lady. Animal tracks lead to

briar, you see. I need sweet lullabies but I call you


That doesn't seem false or mixed to me. And I hate how bad I wish

you came home and crept into my bed, baby.


Today I read my best friend poems. They hurt her heart and widened it and made her think there are others like her. White men, black men, women with names of men, yellow men, jazz and dialect and the pastoral, all in tender little moments as she lay at my feet in tender little daisies. Some of which I stuck in my hardened toes. She unhardens my heart. She softens my soft core until it is malleable as poetry, until it can bend to include her and her bigness, ready to receive poetry and daisies and my seedy needs. The woman is pierceable and I will not pierce her like I do to others maybe, maybe she will pierce me maybe,

we don't need radicals, we need shoemakers who love making shoes and make love like Marx. We don't need union organizers, we need pharmacists who love filling pills and would dance to Engels, if he had played a swing jazz piano. Smokers who puff the rich confetti cigars filled by Fourier.


onan (II)

You, slate gray,

honest ways and motioning hands

slow slow circles--

cupping sailor knots from my back

rubbing them dissolvingly

into an ash, into an ink, into the

coloring of your red blue green sailors' tattoos
with my

knots. Not blue-eyed, not tall,

not one to knot up my little gold chain gut.


We lie entwined.

"I just had deja vu," You say.

"Are you an atheist?" I sit up.

"I think so. I guess that means it was just my brain, right? Which can mean two things. Either I can't trust my mind at all, or it's the only trustworthy thing. It's either misfiring, all sorts of vulnerable little synapses lying in wait, or it's picking up the way time unfolds and refolds, even if only for a moment."

I wake up. You are sitting by the bay window, reading Pynchon. It is raining. You have tried to keep quiet but I am cold. My body is not little like yours, and not compact, I am soft bruiseable women curves, you are hard angular ribcage and can handle sleeping on the floor. I cannot let you into my house and so we sleep on the floor. I cannot sleep alone and so we entwined sleep.

I walk downstairs and outside. You live in the high hills and so I smoke, and watch mist cover the bay like your scratchy wool quilt, the one your mother made you. Because she likes you, you said. I stand in the middle of the street and hope life for two weeks will be somewhat like deja vu, deja vu, deja vu, deja vu, I cannot see enough of you.

You come outside and you look tender at my hair all knotted. You always look at me tender. You look at me tender and agree when I ask you to tattoo me before I move away. Or you offer to pay for it. You do not mind, money is no object, you only ask me of me. I gave this before you asked and you know this and so really, you are asking nothing of me.

"It smells like Berlin," I say.

And it does. Wet wool and wet air wet cunt and your wet skin, all mixed on my sleeve, I always make love to men who smell the same, I am only slightly sorry to say, and I have deja vu of a wet morning, 6 am, on a balcony overlooking Kreuzberg. I stand over cities and do not feel small or too tall, it's just about trusting that all these structures will hold me. Sometimes it leads to a bitterness not tasted by a life measured out in coffee spoons.

You want the posthorn and I want the muted posthorn. This is so fitting, I think. You drive me home. Thank God, I think.


Dear Allison.

Tonight I did not understand (as

I lay with the careening nightskyness

a roof, house of grass with walls of fear,

possible approach surrounding me)

how maps painted a flat brown

inky Earth. The maps lied and I saw

it in the arabesque globe, globules of god,

I was lying alone in a park you see.

And I thought womanly thoughts, how no one
would appreciate this gesture of eggshell bravery,
this gesture of abandoning for abandon! this gesture
of whipping flagellation across its lashing teeth.

And you, you with your breakable tea bohemians, I

am too a breakable bohemian, cupped you have collected me
blown off dust from china stems steaming with chatter
chatter to everyone else, poetry to you (my poetry,


to you). I trusted this schizophrenic city
tonight not to rush upon me from behind as
I turned cartwheels (I never told you because I never
remembered to, but once when I was a girl I spent the
summer learning, rope burn on the backs of knees. It wasn't sexy
it didn't need to be).

Letters are a curse. My photographic memory

a slimy receptacle, I balance as a ballerina wandering

home and tip my mind onto china bohemian fingers (and

I know you wonder the same, despite your love for poetry, the why,

the why, the why, the why, the why)

the illusion imposed upon me by mediator toward love object, you are the mediator,

the world is my love object, so some French asshole says.

I could sleep here-- you jump in lakes bare backed. I accuse you of being theatrical, you beg me to take it easy and you're trying and I now say stop trying. You are so lovely.