For my sister

May 8, 2014  :: 0 comments

I was nine when I hit you
in the face for the first
time, and the last –

when my palm caught
your cheekbone, smack
like pounding a root,
like slamming a wrought-
iron fence with a fist

only it’s something
you remember – you,
and I, and our mother
will never let me forget

yet we were so close
in that moment, skin
against skin and my
anger unfolding,
tossing itself from
my hand to your small
bony cheek blossoming
pink and my palm
burning before bruising
in the purple shape of
an oval.

Only you
could have made me
so mad. Which, I think,
is the first thing
I learned about love.

Mirrored Manes

featured in the poetry forum May 8, 2014  :: 0 comments

With windows down and
Roaring gusts pouring
Through the cracks, our
Laughter was drowned
And I inhaled your
Long hair, which swished
Across the space between
Our seats and whispered
Into my wide open

xxxxxxOutside, dusk-purple
Fields rushed past, but
The silhouettes of eight still
Horses, necks declined
Toward a stream, manes
Frenzied in the same breeze
Held my gaze as I felt
That they, and you, and I,
Were untamed –
Existing as a single wild being
Mirrored across asphalt,
Grass, and time, through
The window panes.

editors note:

Wild anima infuses both through paned perfection. Yes! – mh

When We Are Discovered

featured in the poetry forum April 2, 2013  :: 0 comments

all rust-golds and talc-whites,
colors growing while the sun
drops west of their structures,
sets to glowing the stone
stairs circling a pit of toxic
water from which, perhaps, gods
rose to judge believers
who dug copper rocks from
scarred edges of the open
xxxxxxwhere once there
must have been a hillside
rife with green, this people
carved a hole in the earth,
rolled armfuls of dirt away,
aching with the toil of
destruction and worship—
what gods did they find
here in the ground,
what idols did they admire
in this place they named
a mine?

editors note:

Where we dig, aptly named “mine,” as in, “not yours,” is not  ours, either. The gods giggle. – mh

Backstroke into the blackness

featured in the poetry forum May 26, 2012  :: 0 comments

One star, fifty bats and six gray-white swirls of cloud
against the coming black, fig darkness,
so ripe I want to peel it back and swallow,
skin and all.

Here, face to the sky, the singing dusk world
sapped of frog song, screaming geckos softly
muted with the pillowcase of pool water
close against my ears, I begin to forget—

Forget how you sound—even your
lilting accent from nowhere, everywhere,
the words you made up, even the slapping of
your long, flat feet against our tile floor;

Forget your face, the look of it, the feel
of the tight-bound curls both rough and
smooth to touch as I would run
my hands around its slim perimeter.

Would that with my consumption of this fig
night I could swallow the time between
us, devour the hours that have held us
suspended – so –
to blow back into our lives
the scope of a year in our youth,
when each week spread like spring
branches of some ancient oak.

Better than this: our aging deflates days so each
unfurls, halting
and closely held,
like some night-sprung flower—
so sweet it smells, so soon it dies.

If such are the days remaining,
I long only for you
to fly back with the bats and float
with me in this mute dusk,
breathe life into memories gone to dust.

And when the dark comes we will inhale it,
seeds and skin and fruit and
an ever-turning future.

editors note:

Yes, inhale the dark; swallow whole the sweet fruit of your experience. Make more, grow more. More! – mh

A chance.

featured in the poetry forum March 9, 2012  :: 0 comments

In the wet grass where you left me I listen to the cars spinning around the park.
Stop sign. Wheels spinning on the straight-away. Stop sign. Wheels spinning.
Cars, and the eucalyptus leaves rustling, high up and quiet,
like someone breathing in another room.
Once your voice drops off and you light a match in the shadows,
I can hear only the cars and the leaves.

Unmoored by the moon, so easy-settled in the black,
and the too-bright distant city, I sit in dewed grass, midnight damp soaking jeans.
Who cares. Not I.
My mouth tastes
like beer and whiskey, like tonight and the night
before, and tomorrow night. Tastes like
you and nights spent wheeling around neighborhoods we hadn’t seen before, seeking
cracked plastic seats and wood-stilted bar stools,
the best Sazerac and the cheapest booze on tap.

Always the same: whiskey and beer, beer and whiskey.
Always the same: your mouth like stale cigarettes and
your bed like a sleeping bag beside a campfire.
My addictions are simple.

Sitting there on the hillside, I remember what I always remember
when I spin your face inside my mind:
the way I felt when you fucked me for the first time,
flipping me on my stomach and pressing me down
with your rough-skinned hands, telling me that maybe I should let you come back for more.

And I’m up and running down the slope,
and we’re a tangle of bourbon and sweat on the sidewalk
with night forms whorling around us,
blurring past our tongues unabashed ready and more than ready,
unhinged and reeling, neon in the city light, white in the taxi glare,
black in bracketed shadows dropping
and lifting in the gloom, hurtling and hungry as we are.

editors note:

Why leave life to chance when you can take it as it comes? Eat, drink… – mh

The Flavor of These Years

featured in the poetry forum September 24, 2011  :: 0 comments

In the summer sun
on the metal surface of the spoon
your hair looked like
water spilling, pooling
in a small puddle

I can almost taste it, still

Where the smell of grass
sound of wind in thick-leaved trees
green-heavy in the sun
and others’ children
make me remember

what you were like,
so long ago—
xxxand I, too,
now aging complacently
in this warm, safe space
our sweatered shoulders,
just touching, bent
make me remember

the turn of earlier seasons
easy decisions that shaped us this way

but your hair, dripping with light,
tastes just as I remember
when I licked it first from the empty spoon

editors note:

Here’s the spoon from which we should slurp our daily love elixir; familiarity, acceptance, comfort, yes! Thanks, Genevieve! – mh

Too many times

featured in the poetry forum July 14, 2011  :: 0 comments

sign says ANY KINDNESS
cardboard calling
good morning
like this concussion—
xxxI’ve just come around
the corner
of my ninth life
time’s up
xxxI’m pretty sure
or I’ll be pretty sure
next time.
yeah. I’ve just
wheeled around the edge
steeled for the fall
by a few too many glasses
I’ll catch this next time
pull myself up
clutching the same sign—
and wishing I could take it back
last time.

Pencil Me In

featured in the poetry forum June 1, 2011  :: 0 comments

Pencil me in, you said, if it helps you remember where some nights I lay my head.
but just those light lines, erasable, graphite I can thumb-smudge when I come back
drunk and irascible.

Cold night, and I’m out alone,
short legs knotted under folded
arms, seeming balanced at the end
of a tight-packed, night-busy bar
through rows of empty glasses
watching new friends play guitar.
It’s all a guise. It’s all pretend.
Uneasy here, trying to fit
ego and insecurity
in the same circle of leather.
Really, I’m thinking of you,
broad casual smile, your plea
that I trust you, at least a while.

I guess I’ve never seen a bridge still standing built on pencil lines alone;
and a boat that carries us from here to there must be something more than drawn.

Hours later and the dark has deepened.
sweater-clad and long bed-ready
I quick-step past the quasi-home
created against silver spokes—
a frame-deprived meter-chained tire—
to my bike just behind (victim,
next time). Afraid of night and men
like this, out alone in the cold

(I know: so unfair and selfish,
to be bike-mounting and watching
the bouncer oust him, and think just
of what could happen on my ride,
what strangers could appear and scare
me witless of city living,
while his horror is there, moving
him from almost-safety under
blankets, breaking his chilled slumber.)

Against my will I picture
you beside me, pedal-standing,
tall and laughing into the night,
absorbing just surface, but strong
in your blindness, as if other
senses were heightened. It strikes me
that lonely and temporary
are hard ways to be. So homeless
and loveless, this stranger and I,
desire something of permanence.

I think I’ll have to look to someone else to color contours of pencil lines left behind,
but these scars came out darker in my skin than on paper and moving on from you
will take more than an eraser.

Orgiastic Crosswalk

featured in the poetry forum April 7, 2011  :: 0 comments

Dusk on Broadway, you were
forlorn at the Condor
doors spread-eagled, open, splayed
on the corner—
something lost.
like the Garden of Eden
an easy step across the street
glowing neon screaming, please,

Easier to remember the feeling than the face
but maybe it’s better to forget,

to rise with the fog
not as you were roused
the night before, with legs
neck-twined and trying
to please—attempts better
saved for lives
better spent.

But mornings could not be livelier walked
because newness is relative
and innocence only nightly lost.

So smiling at pedestrians,
the too-serious small girl
in the felt panda hat,
Velcro chin-strapped,
feels natural on your aging face
although last night,

almost-sated on-the-cusp thirst-slaking near-full,

you fucked her grown-up