Reggae Hall Time Machine

You told me that you

Used to dance at the

Wild Hare

Like me.

Back in those young-bodied,

Reckless,

All our lives ahead of us

Humid summer nights.

On the same

Sticky dance floor

You, drinking Red Stripes

With your friends,

Arms cinching your

Girlfriend’s waist,

Me, dancing with the

Medical student from

St. Vincent

Who I thought was

Perfect

Except for the million

Ways he wasn’t.

We always just missed

Each other,

Practically around corners

Like a Benigni movie.

I started at Northwestern

As you were packing your room

To leave.

Walking the same Chicago streets,

We were almost

Neighbors.

I wish we could go back

Before we made our

Thousands of days of

Mistakes.

You don’t believe in regrets,

But I live in

Mine.

If I had happend to bump

Into you one night

Back then

Zima in my hand,

Sweat on my neck,

Would I have seen your

Young, beardless face

Those blue/gray/green eyes

And realized

That you were

Mine?

Would you

Have seen this audacious

Chubby girl

Who danced

With abandon

And known that you

Couldn’t live without me?

In a staggering glance,

Would we have known that

Lightning struck?

But there would be no bump

No puzzled look

No knowing flash

No longing pull

For another quarter century.

Too late to enjoy our

Best bodies and faces,

Too late for

Pregnant bellies

And climbing children.

Too late for

Your first wedding,

My years of

Solitude.

I live in wanting what

We might have had

What we should

Have had.

You laugh and say

That’s silly

Don’t look back,

Even though

I can’t help it.

But

You know what they say…

Better late

Than

Never.

And this day

This home

This life

This every second

With you

Is better late

Than ever.

Shoo

I usually feel

Like an imposition.

The kid on the bus

No one wants to sit next to

Because she smells like

Dirty underwear.

The obligation

The interruption

The annoyance.

Some people always have a place.

They are looked forward to

Anticipated.

I laugh and crack a smile

And pretend that I don’t

Feel like a tick

That you’re trying to pry off.

Like an itchy sweater

You can’t shake loose from.

Like the old lady at the dog park

With treats in her pocket

Who always corners you

With stories you don’t want to hear.

I want so much to feel wanted

That I push in hard

Not gently tapping

For structural soundness,

But flopping down on top of you

Like a heavy bean bag chair.

You’d think I would learn to

Take it easy.

Take a hint.

But I seem to miss them

Until I’ve gone from a slight

Buzz in your ear

To a swallowed wasp

In your throat.

But don’t worry.

If you swat at me

Enough

I promise

I will

Fly away.

Flightless

Taxiing the runway

Holding

Until I have the body

Until I have the money

Until I have the time

Until I have the nerve

The good

The great

The astonishing

In leaden thought

In locked up dream

Of someday,

I suppose.

Overage

I overthink

And overshare

I overcurse at drivers

And overpost on Facebook

I overspend

And overwork

I overeat

And overrestrict

I oversleep

I overpay

I overplan

And overestimate

I overneed

I overlove

I overwant

I overhope

And I overstay

And then one day

Of course

It’s all over.

Again.

Engulfed

Promises of

Tomorrows

in intertwined legs and

a beard-scratched neck

Consume me and

Convince me

Until you’re gone and

I wonder

How could he ever

Why would he never

Leave me

Realize

Just how useless

And warped

And misshapen

And rancid

I am

He will

He must.

So I plot my

Escape

Filling myself back out

Too large to want

Too ugly to need

Too embarassing to acknowledge.

Skipping plans

Hiding away

Kept at thick arm’s distance

From anyone

Who might leave

Of their own volition

It will be mine

Instead.

Liquid image of forever

In my hands

Clasped tight to no

Avail.

It drips through fingers

Onto the ground

Until it’s gone –

Trampled

Underfoot.

Mine.


Throe Pillows

I get the good pillows

The comfy pillows

He takes the bumpy

Lumpy

Grumpy pillow

The one he says feels like

It’s stuffed with

Dead mice.

But I get

The billowy pillows

That cradle my head

While he cradles

My body

Drowning my face

As it’s thrown

All the way back

Diving deep

On both ends.

Those dreamy pillows

That I hurl on the floor

When my body is

Shaking.

Those damn pillows

Couldn’t stop

Couldn’t drown out the

Words

That I didn’t want

To say

That I tried to

Hold back

But they came out

Anyway.

“Is it okay

if I love you?”

Time stops.

Breathing stops.

Searching for that pillow

To bury my face

Plug up my ears

Shield my eyes

From what might come

But it comes

Anyway.

“Yes.”

Greedy

Greedy

For ice cream

And cheeseburgers

And french fries

And chocolate

Gave way to

Greedy

For weight loss

And new clothes

And a pretty face

And thin legs.

Then greedy

For attention

And attraction

And excitement

And sex

Crept in.

Now

It’s greedy

For acceptance

And affection

And time spent

And love.

People say that

Moderation

Is key

Small increments

Slow growing

Naturally developing

A step at a time

But they forget…

I’m way too fucking

Greedy

For my own

Good.

Checked Out

17 years.

That’s how long I was checked out

A library book

I’d forgotten to return.

It should have been pored over

By avid fans

Or even casual readers,

But instead was squirreled away

In that space between

The floor and the headboard of my bed,

The forgotten place that

Never gets light

Collecting skin cells and waking dreams

Trampled by spiders and centipedes.

When I finally reached down

Into that dusky space

And salvaged the fragile book

I regarded it with hesitation.

Was it still relevant?

Still interesting?

Was the damage too great?

The wrinkled pages and

Faded cover

Disquieted me.

I leafed through it gingerly

Fingers tugging at the history

Remembering my favorite lines

And discovering new passages that I hadn’t known

Or hadn’t remembered.

It was funny, this book

And thoughtful,

And dirty – really dirty.

There was so much inside

That could perhaps still find an appreciative audience

Somewhere.

But what about the fine?

The price that had snowballed with the days

After all of those years

Of disuse

Could I afford it?

I was unsure

But needed to know.

So I straightened the spine

Fanned out the pages and

Wiped the cover.

I slowly walked it to

The librarian and

gently handed it back.

“Return.”

Family Tree

The tangled branches

Are crooked, bent and heavy

With a few young leaves

Scattered to the winds

And the remainders straining

At their stems,

Waiting to fall free.

In the center of the tree

Around the Nucleus,

The Wellspring,

These lumbering branches

Sprawl to jealously guard,

Fervidly mistrusting any nearing

Winds or creatures,

At times stifling and cutting her off

From needed elements.

A broken branch hangs

Near the ground

Rotted and forgotten

Destroyed by disease.

And still another bends away,

Away from the interlocking

Tangle

Quietly soaking in sun

And wind and rain

Without shelter or blocking,

But also without bonds.

When blessedly, a fragile, torn leaf

From one of the tangled and

Lumbering branches

Drifts downward on a stream of wind and

Finds its way to the contented loner,

Wind-tossed into a crook

In its bent arm,

Tucked away, protected

And yet remarkably symbiotic.

No longer rootless

No longer alone

Together they bend

They seek the sun

They drink the rain

And they grow stronger.

And therefore so too does the tree.

He

He walks the dog

He carves the pumpkins

He trudges up hills

He runs through parks

He writes methodically

He strings Christmas lights

He gets tickets to shows

He feeds me oysters

He plans out hikes

He photographs the world

He brings me water

He turns up the heat

He makes me laugh

He knows I’m anxious

He holds my hands

He warms my feet

He kisses my face

He locks us together

He genuinely wants

To know

To see

To explore

Me

He