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Sample Poems



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-—

no zombie shooter no sniper assassin

no stick girls allowed—

even at 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

                                   Switchgrass Review



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
like that,
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.

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