A Mean Bone

In my body, there are many bones.
If it were not so, I tell you, I would
not have done what I did:

I lived with the witch so long
in her candy house, I learned well
how to be wicked. Wicked enough

to wield the bone I poked
through the prison’s grill to feign
I was still too thin for her to eat.

The witch is wily, but blind.
Thank her for her lessons,
then shove her in and shut the oven door.

Never trust the gingerbread,
the sugared treat. Never trust a friend
who claims to have no mean bone.

That bone aches when the weather
turns, it complains, it demands
relief. My dear, this syrup

will rot your teeth, will take from you
your bite, what in you is crisp and sharp –
the grit and clench and shake,

the yen to seize your prey
and break its neck. Regard it
as a mercy, this mouth of teeth,

these small mean bones. Offer them
their proper due of meat for feed,
not sweets

Writing in Pencil

I’m writing this poem in pencil
though I usually don’t –
fear of erasure sending me
to the thickest possible swath of ink.

Now I think: if I am not sure,
if I change my mind, I want
the written record of that,
strikethroughs and all.

So I am telling you plainly, decisively:
I am unsure, see how the timid
gray shows my hesitation

I am thinking about purchasing a gray pen

No, no: a pencil will do.
A pencil proves
that things could always,
any minute, every minute,


it coils like a roly-poly
like a sleeping kitten

like a snake
or a tight fist

let me at you, I think

one finger on shift
and the other on two

then punch in the coordinates
highlight the target

a new kind of war

in which we launch
at each other

drive-by style
symbols shaped like grenades

infinity shrinks but
never disappears

we veer towards the line
yet approach forever

the impossible point
where we might meet

Spite House

A spite house is a building constructed or substantially modified to irritate neighbors or any party with land stakes. Spite houses may create obstructions, such as blocking out light or blocking access to neighboring buildings, or can be flagrant symbols of defiance. Because long-term occupation is at best a secondary consideration, spite houses frequently sport strange and impractical structures. (Wikipedia)

I stole Kurtz’s fence posts and made them my own,
waiting for you to walk past. You never did.
At night, the joists began to sigh and groan
under the heft of hexes piled high in my bed.
The silver was the gaudiest I could find, ornate
beyond taste or decency. I let it tarnish, lose
its luster. Two full summers’ worth of moldered hate
lay leaking in a colander, filling the sink with juice.
Dust and dog hair clung to the HVAC grill
until the air went sour, smelled like old game.
I left the smoke detector to send its shrill
chirp through a house full of unquenchable flame
that could never be sated or extinguished.
By then, what’s mine or yours could no more be distinguished.

Youth! Beauty!

Outside, the yard guys shave off the oldest of the lawn’s growth.
Inside a vase on the mantle, soft plinks I couldn’t quite place for an hour
till I peeked: a dying bug’s last attempts to flip itself right side up.

The cats already have fleas. It’s only May. The sun seems resolute
in the same way teenagers are, sure it will live forever. As far
as we’re concerned, it may as well. It gets hotter day by day.

With one finger we pull down Earth’s sunglasses to get a better
look, then strip them off entirely, dazzled by the blaze. Youth!
Beauty! The air crackles with fecundity, bees bumbling out of roses

like horny frat guys buzzed on a never-ending stream of Natural Light.
As for me, I threw away my face creams and serums. My surface dries
and cracks. I thirst for milk and honey. The peonies in their water glass

bloomed for two weeks till they rotted, fell to pieces, some buds
blossoming meanwhile, but the last two tight balls stayed stubbornly
shut, keeping their sweetness for themselves. I don’t blame them.

At night, we nestle close something like that. We draw up through tangled limbs
what’s left to drink from deep in the cool of our sheets. We sleep in this reprieve.