When I was in eighth grade, I got detention. The only one I ever would.

With another girl who also went on to be a writer. A good one. A real one.

We were not detention girls.

The plan was to create a time capsule. Capture the essence and sparkle and unrest of 1991and save it from decay for a rainy day.

Keep a time that was so hard in the living but might be passingly pleasant with distant remembering.

What about putting something precious on a shelf while you still want it in your hands

Like taking freshly delivered flowers and hanging them upside down instead on a wall instead of right way up in a vase of water.

Keeping something to remember before it wilts. A memory of beauty before you put your hands around and turn it ugly with oiled prints

Shelf out of the way

Shelf I can’t see

Shelf I’d like to build in my heart if only

I had the support beams

To handle the screws


Enough to get a hand on

Enough that if it fell the

Memory would break

At least one bone

Want to know it’s there

But not know

Because I don’t know

Leave it there long enough

Might be there for

The next tenant

Cobwebs and dust

Encroach and envelop

So it becomes part

Of the timber

That maybe you’ll forget

When you pack your boxes

And downsize

When your life

Moves on

Or you pry the wood

And take it



Paint chips

Reaffix to ribs

And fascia


And brittle

Carry your shelf

Until it becomes


Dust in your veins

Cobwebs in your valves

And the memory

Is all that lives

Rolling and Action

Setting the Stage


Take it in
Or move it down
Inside your brain
Swallowed sound

Of raging voices
Screaming truths
Convinced of lack
Inked with proof

A game of words
Pronouns defend
Lighted eyes
Deferred send

Now you see
Body real
Indulging full
The hurt you feel

A twist of truth
A curl of cuts
Under lights
Marks and ruts

In the veneer
Of… fine
And talk later

Good to relate
Walk in shoes
Laced to go past
And forward, a ruse

Lit with love
And real passion
Audio dubbed
Broadcast captioned

Back to base
Edit for use
See what’s there
In flesh, not obtuse

It’s a brilliant idea
Shy short on conception
Third act falls apart
Only basement perfection

Still a story to tell
Commit to these players
Immersed in this world
Of witches and sooth-sayers

Learning to trust
Willing to believe
The feelings will endure
A nervous reprieve

Rolling and action
only mean start
to the ones pretending
not the ones staged apart

Her Light

She is

not your spotlight

Focusing attention in the darkness

calling everyone to look

So you see

What it is you can do.

Not your search light

To guide you into harbor

when you’ve sailed your ships

Against warning

Into black and chopped waves.

Not to blame for

Being the siren who lured you back.

She was singing for herself

Not the mirror you held up

So she could see the faults

Not her hand that

Turned and burned you instead

The silence of your fury

Louder than the

Sighs of your disinterest.

Not your torch,

to frighten back creatures

You don’t understand.

She has her own monsters

creeping to her doors

and learning her language.

Carrying torches

Only grinds down

arthritic arms.

She put hers down.

She can’t do it

Too heavy.

The lights are too bright.

headaches are

far too dug in and planted

Photosynthesis the

Power line to


Her own screwed in



Mixed white and blue and


Not matching when seen back

in her balanced eyes.

Her palms aren’t

Scarred and fibrous

As as her heart

to hold the light bulb

In place with bare hands.

It’s low watt but


her fingers blister

fluid leaking


And she doesn’t have the grip

To twist

Your glass fragile


In place.

She is candles and

altars with incense.

Low glow and quiet alone

With her disciple.

One you whispers,

knowing a harsh breath

kills the flame.

Happy in the room

She left dark.

The sun rises tomorrow

Isn’t it pretty to think

So dawn soft

Smoothed hair

Hazy unfocused


Touched in shadows.

Chasing away the light

For just a little longer

Not needing to be

The brightness

But wanted to be

the still silhouette

Casting her own


From her light.

One More Tonight

I’ve thought about it

I’m ready.

I’m really, finally ready.

I know it’s scary but

It’s something I want to do

I’ve always wanted to do

Thought I wanted

It’s time.

I have to,


That’s what people do,

Isn’t it?

Can’t keep on like this,

Night and fading music

Empty glass and

Last one in the pack


I should pack

If I’m going-

But, if I’m not leaving tomorrow

I don’t have to wrinkle all

My clothes in a bag tonight.

I don’t even need a suitcase yet.

In fact, I could just pick up what

I need once I get there.

I’m sure I’ll manage.

I won’t need anything anyway.

Be so excited to get there.

That’s what everyone says.

Be so busy I won’t have time to


about anything else.

What I left.

Or didn’t do.

Far too busy.

Always so busy.

I was thinking about

that time, remember?

We were all there,

It was so late

everyone was laughing.

No one wanted to leave.

Some of them did.

We all have to.

Can’t stay forever.

Don’t want to be

The last one at the party.

Last one.

What about one last one?

For old time’s sake.

For the road.

For tonight and tomorrow.

Maybe one more tomorrow.

Tonight isn’t ready.

Tomorrow isn’t here yet.

One more.


Falling Smiles


That’s it.

Go on now.

It’s okay. It’s hard.

Try again

That’s not quite…

you have laughed before?


No problem. Start smaller.

How about about a smile?

Just at the corners.

A bit up. Towards the sky.

A little on each side.

Little more.

Maybe a little more.

You’re twitching.

Oh dear.

How else can I explain this…

Remember when something good happened.

Tell me how you felt. Feel what your face does.

Not like that.

I’m not putting this well.

Christmas morning?

Warm bath after being in the cold?

A hug on the couch?

Yes. You’re nodding. Yes.




Are you quite sure you’re not a sociopath?

No, no, I’m kidding.

Maybe it wasn’t funny.

I’m sorry.

No, please don’t be upset.

I only wanted to hear you laugh.

That’s not laughing.


Oh dear.

I’ve done this all wrong.



I’m sorry.

I’ll go.





Did you…


You did.

You smiled.

I guess I’ll have to keep falling.

Exposed Wire

The electric doesn’t zing 

Because the wiring is frayed
Changed the bulbs

Changed the switch 
No light 
The other one

Half of the circuit

Turning on

Turning up
Still dark
Still static
Only risking 

entrance, exit of 


being the conductor

not the dispersive
Peel the burn

skin charred 

from faulty connections
Turn on the light. 

Not Me

Photo credit: Kristin Antosz

I’m not great in an audience. 
I can’t leave me long enough

 to be up there with them. 

I don’t laugh at the jokes. 

My head screams too loud to hear them. 

But I know they’re there. 

And I’ll say they’re funny. 
I’ll cry when it’s sad. 

That, that I get. 

But I won’t let them see. 
Mostly, I just wish I was on stage. 

Because there, I’m not me. 

There, I’m big and beautiful. 

I can talk. And mean it. 

I can listen and not stand aside,

Waiting for a quiet minute,

to step away 

and back 

and gone. 

Somewhere I have things to wear and 

words to say. 

And it matters. 
Just not off stage.

Please not off stage. 

That’s where it’s dark. 

Where you get lost

By yourself. 

Without a thing to wear

Or words

And no one to hear them

Or listen if they did. 
When you walk around

without a mark

or a truth or a lie, 

Who are you?
Just sitting in the seats. 

Waiting in the dark. 

Wondering who to be. 

Just please,

Not me. 



They don’t tell you you’re going to be trapped.
That once you’re in, you’ll never be out alone.
That it won’t get better, only different.
That it won’t get easier, just a different kind of hard.
They don’t tell you that you’re gone.
But you know.

You don’t matter.
What you think, what you feel
And that’s what cruelest,
you will feel everything.
Harder and faster
and bigger than you ever
Scares that will crush you.
Until there are only pieces left.
That’s all you have.

You’ll put them on like a costume.
Scraps and bits
yanked from the bottom
of a trunk life.
It might remind you
of you.
A flash of a place or
a tinny laugh from a corner.
You’ll put them on
and pretend.
Act like the savior,
the thief, the witch.
Whatever they want you
to be.
Whoever they make you play.

Because there’s no you.
Not anymore.
Them.  Acting.
It would be easier
it you didn’t know the lines.
If you could actually
cut the cord,
forget you ever were;
would make it easier
to be this new thing,
wearing old clothes
and speaking like a stranger.

But you don’t forget.
Not in the chilly morning.
Not in the hot day.
And never in the middle of the night.
Dark and red
That’s when you remember most.
That you were human.
Not anymore.
Now you’re clothes and food
and telling.
Doing and thinking,
never and always acting.

You may never get out.
Rattle the bars.
Make your complaints.
Only time to hear you.
And time is what trapped you.
Submissive or fighting.
Your way out.
Only way out.
to get out.

For Yet


I’m not bad.
I don’t kick puppies.
I do kill mice.
I do help with homework.
I will read your story.
I’ll say what you want to hear.
I’m bad.

I’m not good.
I don’t volunteer.
I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m selfish.
I won’t brag. But I want to.
I complain.
I won’t let you do for me.
I’m good.
I’m not fat.
I’m not fat fat.
I’m thin fat.
People won’t stop and look.
But people won’t stop to look.
I eat the food.
I eat the hurt.
I eat the pills.
I look in the mirror.
I’m fat.

I’m not smart.
I don’t know art.
I don’t know politics.
I don’t know music.
I try to learn.
I ask for help.
Listen once.
I stop.
It’s too much.
I stop asking.
I’m smart.

I’m not sexy.
Not for me.
Not for him.
Not often.
Not enough.
Not that way.
I want to.
Really want to.
I think about it.
Wish I could think
I’m sexy.
I don’t give up.
I push and need
and take.
It’s hard.
I don’t get it.
I’ll never get it.
I give up.

Please not yet.

I could add yet.
I should add yet.
I want to add yet.

To every time, every sentence,
every raging, awful thought
that rips and ravages
my heart and my will
to get up and say yet again.

I’m not waiting for the right time.
Not for the right one.
I have to make it
count because the
only one counting is me.
Give the courage.
Maybe not now,
or not just yet.

For me.
For yet.

For tomorrow


What I need
I won’t ask for.

I’m not asking for more.
I’m not.

You want to give
and you ask
and if there was something
to be had
I’ve have it.
I know you.
That’s why you.

But sometimes,
I just need tomorrow.
And you can’t give me that.
I know you, trust you.
My tomorrow.
Like I can’t give you yours.
I know me. Trust me.

You can give me today.
So can I.
And I’ll take it.
Because it’s a good today.
It’s a fantastic, wonderful today.
Where you measure your success
in my smiles
and you feel bigger
making my shoulder lighter.
Where my sheets carry your smell
and my corner your clothes;
some folded fresh and some crumpled worn,
some ready for tomorrow
some still tired from last night.
But all there. Comfortable together.
They’re making themselves
at home in mine;
where my table has your work
and your ears have mine,
and there’s always tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow.
Maybe a different thought.
Maybe not.
Are our yesterdays worth a tomorrow?
Today they are.
I’ll take today.
Best thing you could give.
Take mine, love.
We’ll keep them,
comfortable together,
in my corner.
Worry about the rest,