STICK FIGURE WITH SKIRT
Is the universal sign for the women’s restroom
unless you are in Hawaii or a cowboy bar
Stick figure with skirt is the universal symbol of fashion
aka Allure aka Kate Moss
Stick figure with skirt holding hands with other stick figures
is the universal mini-van mom
making sure we know she is loved
by her stick figure family
they are all stick smiling
Stick figure with skirt is not available on stick-figure- games.com—
no zombie shooter no sniper assassin
no stick girls allowed—
even at girlgames.com the stick chicks are naked or suicidal
Stick figure in pencil skirt and heels
is the universal sign for career woman
but notice she has no mouth no eyes
no opposable thumbs on her two stick hands
Beneath that stick figure skirt is slip
beneath that slip Spanx
beneath Spanx two bare sticks
like scissors forever cutting her flesh
into smaller sticks and smaller still
until she is kindling
the universal sign of beauty
From Stick Figure with Skirt
Previously Published in
WHAT TO GIVE HER
No makeup or mirrors, nothing that reflects,
no TV screens, no tinted glass, no tin.
No clinging clothes or cameras,
no photos or frames,
no possibility of any shape, trapped.
No trappings of any kind,
no pedicure, no perfect pearl,
no clutch of orchids.
Not one thing for a kitchen—paring knives,
Pyrex bowls, decorator plates—no gift
to grace a plate, to place an appetite
on red alert, nothing that smells
of cinnamon or cherry, wet laundry on a line—
too many fresh skeletons, too thin that wind.
No erotica, no memoir, no thriller that kills
the ugly girl first. No words then, no sound,
no appeal to the senses,
not the bow-legged song of crickets,
not the hug of ribs or rolls—no two women
can touch and come away the better.
I settle on a watch. I give my friend time,
the one gift that is not about her image,
the gift to hold closest to her pulse—
each anorexic tick, each uncontrolled curve
of a minute that she must learn to fill.
But when she puts it on I see this, too,
is wrong, the way it spins so freely
on her impossibly small wrist,
how the band is like a bangle of bones,
how she wants only to be bone.
From Sister Satellite
Winner WI Academy Poetry Award 2009
She came into my yard like a lost dog,
sniffing about the house,
peeing in all the corners.
She came into my yard
like scattered newspapers,
section one, page one,
to be continued.
She is all canary, she clears mines,
she is mustard on a new pair of pants.
I call her Lucille,
loose as a wheel,
one act play, silk sheets
but no cigarette.
She came at me with that ballsy bronze voice,
said there’s a song in this mess
do you hear it?
Where does she get off talking to me
breaking my back like a snap pea?
It’s late and I’m tired,
all that damn carrying on,
the next door screaming baby, the howling
at the fence.
Get out of my yard, go home,
take my vacant womb like a chew toy,
a ruby on your finger,
a pink flamingo,
take it and go,
just stop scratching at my door,
stop barking in my night.
From Sweet Curdle
Reprinted from Prairie Schooner by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 2002 University of Nebraska Press.