Shelf

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

Close

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

Splinters

Brackets

Paint chips

Reaffix to ribs

And fascia

Soft

And brittle

Carry your shelf

Until it becomes

You

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
…Sometime

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

Migration.

Her own screwed in

Halogen

Fluorescent

Mixed white and blue and

Orange

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

Still

her fingers blister

fluid leaking

slipping

And she doesn’t have the grip

To twist

Your glass fragile

Illumination

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

hands

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

Direction.

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,

Right?

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

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

Think

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.

Tonight.

Falling Smiles

Laugh

That’s it.

Go on now.

It’s okay. It’s hard.

Try again

That’s not quite…

you have laughed before?

Right?

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.

And…?

Nothing.

Nothing?

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.

That’s…

Oh dear.

I’ve done this all wrong.

Maybe…

Damn.

I’m sorry.

I’ll go.

….trip….

…..fly….

….crash…..

Ow.

Did you…

See?

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 

current 

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?
Me?
Just sitting in the seats. 

Waiting in the dark. 

Wondering who to be. 

Just please,

Not me.