good grief optional 

I read a book about a crow who helps children
with dead parents.
I wonder why no one ever covered ME in black feathers, ever told ME
fight for three days,
cry for a week, then
sprinkle the ashes and move the hell on.

my grief looks more like
the back end of a house fire
the back door of a church
the backside of the wrong man.

mostly hoping you aren’t actually watching everything from up there.
because what an invasion of privacy.

without any fowl, any claws
teaching me to bend my hands in ways that will mourn you –
I’ve been improvising for eleven years.

I swear off happiness, put my heart in my throat for safekeeping, and still
leak pure joy
most days.

still hope
still think that at the end of the day,

I would sit beside you
maybe light a smoke with you

how could I be sad
when I had a dad like you?

the thing about saints is that

they always drown in heaven.

I don’t know what’s up there but
give a man the grace of God and he’ll
kneel like he’s never seen the ground before.

the thing about saints is who protects them?
where do all devoted things go?

if a saint loves an angel
does all the holiness cancel out and
all that’s born is sin?

take me back to that birth.
that gasping moment of life on a better earth.

if a saint can adore an angel
then I, too, can love you
in that ocean,
under God.

not just the feeling

he is lonely in the gentlest way
and he does all these holy things
like his hands were made to do them.

he is out of season,
he is breathing in darkness and exhaling light.

he loves like leftover Christmas lights,
just waiting for someone to take him down.

made up

I think making up
is the only holy thing you and i have ever done.

I think all the times i’ve said the words
come on
have gathered in the spaces between
your fingers and you felt them
the last time you ever prayed and
you said, oh well.

I think making up looks like
this day ten years from now that
keeps showing up in my nightmares

you still aren’t here with me
you don’t smirk up at me from a knee
you don’t say, sorry i took so long
you don’t call me honey and
i don’t know if your lips still taste like it.

i think making up,
our sham of a confession, us pretending we
were sorry,
sounds like my phone ringing late
sounds like your hopeful teeth
sounds like one best friend reminding the other

why he married someone else instead.

daughter of atlas

//this piece was first published by Words Dance Publishing//

did God join you on the roof with his head bent?
he says the word shame but as soon
as his lips meet on the ‘m’
you forgive him.

as soon as he pulls a crushed daisy
from his back pocket
you forgive him.

your ankles shake in a small house
with a small mother and
a father making love to a wine glass.

on the roof you ask a nervous god for evidence
and he plays you
a recording of your little sister’s laugh
and you forgive him.

character development

the other day i started a sentence with
“as someone who’s never been loved”
and yes, i know that’s not true,
but it also is.

I used to think of myself as the
plot twist in your story –

but there’s no plot twist in your story.

there are mountains and
your younger brother with his awe-filled eyes and
trees that would have fallen if not for you but
no plot twist
no me
your hands are too damn steady for that

I am the savior in my mother’s story
where men keep
lying and dying
i water the ground of their footprints and gravestones
when she can’t.

she is my frame of reference for
perfume and strength and crying too soon
for things still laughing, still uncomplicated,
for exactly how to hold myself when there’s
no you.

Give and Take, and Give Again

I never shut up about all the things I wanted.

Have i always been this greedy?

Your heart doesn’t throw a tantrum when we go months without talking and mine is still having a goddamn fit over the fact that I only got to fuck you twice.

I mean, I was trying to figure out if there was any point being alive if I couldn’t be your wife and my mother was still yelling about my acne.

Have i always been this greedy?

I’ve bitten my nails all the way down and my wrists are sore so of course you don’t of course you don’t want these hands

But you have to, because i was put on this earth to give to you.