Words are wind
is a thing you used to love to say
when I would start "defending"
"Words are wind, Mandi!
Anyone can give you words!"
You would leave the air silent
only then with your own.
The space between us entirely empty of you.
This was not the vacuum of last spring.
There would be no side of highway hand plucked wildflowers.
No phones vibrating with your messages between thighs in sessions.
No intertwined sweat soaked limbs in the sauna of a midday tent.
I was thankful of it.
I longed for your nearness but not your misplaced romance or hope.
No -I would have you now in the Autumn.
Too depressed to breathe;
you would never draw me close.
Your words only came with
alcohol, ***, or some combination of
supposed truth serums.
As you had said though:
"Words are wind, Mandi!"
And your words somehow both too abundant and too few
blew through that space between us
like a winter's Gale.
Seeking shelter from the elements you created
meant leaving you to find your own way through.
The only way out for either of us.
It is nearly spring again now.
I know it must be because
I can see primrose
defying all logic with it's
near invisible courage.
I champion it on with its
welcomed heralding of a needed
I hope that we both get to be
Australia is on fire
and I imagine that I can smell
the burning fur and flesh of
animals I can’t even name.
I’m full of ****.
The truth of me is that
bushfires a world away
are not the reason
I haven’t been dry
a day since Christmas.
The World’s Problems
do not keep me awake.
Syrian children with melted skin
won’t ever feel as real as
knowing I have not looked -really looked
into the eyes of my own in months.
The m&m’s the Vraylar drug rep brought are real though
they are as real as the number on the scale.
Which is at least as real as my boss
when she used the words “corrective action.”
Which was at least as real as my ex-husband
who is back to the job of propping up his half of my life.
Which is at least as real as The Boy who is a friend turned stranger
who wrote the poem I stole those words from.
It’s turtles all the way down.
The shallow words you offer now
will never begin
to fill the deep chasms
you've eroded into me.
Into the heart, soul, bones, brain, sinew of
When we were still new
you had already begun
to chip away at
But you said
with each raise of your maul
“I love you
and I would never
do anything to hurt
but NO ONE
had ever loved
I opened myself wide
and you crawled inside
to make yourself a home in
I was empty before then
and still I am empty.
According to Bukowski
I should have let you ****
In the moments before death my brain had flooded with DMT
And I could see in my mind’s eye all of the best that had been between us.
From somewhere above my body I silently screamed that the DNR was a mistake
I was comforted then in knowing that you would soon follow me into the dark
-a willing victim of our shared cancer.
I had seen your hospice nurses and heard your death rattles for years.
Even still I longed so much for you to grab the paddles and force me back
but we had agreed not to resuscitate;
so paralyzed I watched my life leave.
It was first with a whimper and then with sobs
that I grasped wildly around the small pitch box
in search of you who had promised to die with me.
I found instead more darkness, the smell of dirt
and that not even the ghost of you had come to lay.
I can sometimes hear you eulogize my goodness from above
when you come to pick the flowers I’m growing with what is left of me.
I won’t reach for you anymore as I did last night.
I will lie very still.
Without a whimper.
This may still be a work in progress.
My body is a rugged mountain pass
whose dangerous peaks and valleys
call out to the hubris of would be adventurers
with its hungry siren song.
Lovers have come the world over
with their maps, pickaxes, fire starters and rope.
Some brought tents intending to go the distance;
several with flags to stake their claim at the summit;
a few with pocket knives for carving their names.
All leaving trash on the trails as they went.
“Did I make you ***?”
they would ask believing in their foolish arrogance
that their movement and noise were really capable
of causing my avalanche.
Covered in the sweat of my labors in Sherpa-ing them to the peak
I whisper “Yes.”
Understanding in those moments that some things cannot be taught.
Only one ever came truly naked -without intention or ego.
The many times he found himself cresting my summit
it never occurred to him to pierce me with his pride
but instead he kissed the earth beneath him in gratitude.
He always moved through me as if he had gone this way his whole life
and yet still could get lost on the trails of a single limb.
He made himself an eager student of my skin
and produced waterfalls where before there had been none.
Singing songs into me as he studied my topography with adept fingers.
The echoes of which ring through me even now.
Never was he concerned with the ridges
for he being too preoccupied with the beauty of my slopes
thought of them only as trail markers.
The songbirds in the trees of me call always for him.
The animals of my wilds stay hungry as never before.
A small fire burns constantly for his return.
I sit watching brown eyes
probe affectionately through the haze
at the mirrors created by close family.
I think the intimacy that is made possible
by the sharing of wine, **** and space
in a dim room full of sad love and smoke
will never ceased to amaze me.
The men see themselves in each other
and are both heartened in their own ways
I am drunk now in my way
and The Mirror is ****** in his
and Brown (Green) Eyes is both at once
Appalachian mouths move in turns
to take a hit or a drink or a shot at wisdom
Suddenly the truth of our three souls is laid bare
on the tiny table there between us.
My heart tightens around the words
as they echo through each chamber
growing louder with each reverberation.
“Happiness is being able to breathe”
Love you, Frank.
We were both writers.
You with a fountain pen and moleskin notebook
I with anything I could scrawl on -tears always just at the edges of me
and in this way we began to author our life together.
We put pen to paper that first night
drunk on gas station liquor and on not feeling so alone.
Our hungry bodies filled page after page
with what I would come to believe
would be my magnum opus.
In your wedding vows you said that we would
“work together to fill the pages with
conflict, desire, pain and all that makes life real
so that we can appreciate all that makes life good”
You were not much of a co-author though
preferring instead to write alone at night while I slept
How many times did I revisit a previous chapter
only to find that you had introduced a new character
or a dark and bizarre plot twist without my knowledge?
Eventually these discoveries would become as predictable
as the indignant denials
and promises that would always follow them
lather, rinse, repeat
Over years these edits and additions
would knock the air from my lungs
completely shaking my confidence as a writer.
With cramping hands I would try to rewrite the bad parts
though my scribble marks did little to mask the words beneath.
Words that once had flowed as easily and copiously as I had for you
now came only in fits and starts
each new chapter torn from the bones of my bones.
How many times did the ten eyes we wrote in
watch as writers block turned to writers rage
producing furious missives that would tear holes in pages without warning?
Still even as my teeth-torn hands turned arthritic
I couldn’t seem to just put down the ******* pen
Because it was our story
and because I loved it
and because I loved us
and because I loved you.
I ended our story with a semicolon
Its already faded form staring up from my ring finger
a reminder that I could have chosen to end my story but didn’t.
You once told me that a good author always employs irony
and I have always been a better writer than you’ve given me credit
There once was a tiny bundle of cells that grew in my womb
without the assistance of fertility medications or ovulation testing
a surprise spontaneous occurrence of the first sparks of Life
a product of the kind of ******* that happens on a honeymoon
between newlyweds full of bliss, lust, and hope
My womb once thought uninhabitable to such an occurrence
boarded a plane home five days later
cradling this new truth-
The Honeymoon Baby
Weeks would pass before my womb would begin to betray its secret
3 days late- nothing
5 days late- nothing
8 days late- the little blue plus sign and a whisper from deep in me-
“You aren’t broken?”
For several hours my womb and I jealously guarded this knowledge
My new husband not known for his enthusiasm wouldn’t share in my joy
So I sat alone feeding my hungry heart on now debunked beliefs
“You AREN’T broken!”
Having gorged myself to the point of bursting on a meal years in the making
I looked with wet eyes to my then partner of more than half a decade
“we made a honeymoon baby; I’m not broken.”
No, he wouldn’t share my joy.
His eyes turned to windows in the days that would follow
They screamed their disgust into the wide open parts of me
as pointedly and with as much passion as his mouth could ever muster
It was then that I began to silently pray the baby away
My silence only increased his vitriol until with a blast he climaxed in his rage
and I felt the cold of the recently adorned wedding band against my neck
as the hands which had held mine so softly so often pinned me to the door
Finally my silent prayers gave way to a singular scream
“I ******* hate you and I hate your child inside of me!”
My womb cried to hear the prayer spoken
She cried so long and so loud that she began to bleed
She heaved and sobbed her rage into rivers of blood that wouldn’t stop for weeks
and earthquakes of cramps that would rock me to my core
The unstoppable current of tears and blood carried the translucent sac
that housed the had been Honeymoon Baby into the ***** porcelain bowl
The baby I prayed away that would never speak whispered up
“You are broken.”
The honeymoon was over.
I hadn’t hated him before that.
Six years later to the day we signed divorce papers.
cacophony of the
shared studio apartment
An island of misfit
Some straight from
the factory with
limbs lost over
Five sets of
finally closed to
All found now
in this place
I’ve heard it said that love
is friendship caught fire
And while I have often
warmed by bones amid your glow
You have never burned me
Even as coals from our tiny campfire
flung sparks into the air
that would disappear
before touching the ground
or our too near tent
You never burned me
No, I think instead
Love is friendship
which has produced fire
Catching fire lends itself
to images of burning buildings
of holes in walls
and little boys falling asleep
cradled in a parents warm embrace
but waking up alone
catching fires are scary.
Produced fires are intentional
they are tended and protected
secured against the elements
boundaries placed around
to enjoy the benefits of the product
while limiting the potential harms inherent to
The fire produced by our friendship
has warmed our children
has given them light to learn by
a beacon home
Precious needs met
after years in the nuclear winter
that came after the flash and burn
of friendships CAUGHT fire
Victims of traumatic house fires though
rarely go on to become pyromaniacs
Hearts -both big and small
stamped forever with a warning label:
“This item may cause fire which can result in personal injury and even death”
Caution is a virtue
I’m a travelling salesman
between the 1A on 91.3
and songs that hurt
on my Pandora station
I go door to door
The problem with
is having some to
a client once told me
“you can’t front a berry
and still make a berry”
I think she was
talking about ******
but the sentiment
July 5th, 1:07am
I love you, deeply
July 8th, 3:44pm
I love so many things about you
In week one
I decided that
was the safest feeling
I had ever felt
In week two
gifted expensive whiskey
and mommy issues
told you all my secrets
In week three my skin
for having known you
and nothing felt so dark
In week four
I heard every song
as if on
In week five
you showed me
that he did not have
on breaking my heart
I would not know that until
In week six
In week seven
In week eight I watched
the blood move down skin
which had not been opened
in better than two years
It was then
the shelter had become
I don't count the weeks anymore
It is winter now.
They are sitting
turned facing away
from a world of water
Small but unforgiving
waves crash at their
They are smiling
overwhelmed with joy and
How is it that they
capture this moment
They don't concern themselves with:
or the thousands
of pounds of plastic
littering the oceans
The wind blows soft
the water feels warm
and their mother
smiles as she wipes
their salt stung eyes
on the borrowed
Wayfinder or Polaris
was the name of the poem
that had been ping-ponging around my periphery
for the better part of two months
This, I thought, would be my magnum opus
the most perfect expression
of the safest direction
I’ve ever known
I envisioned myself writing it out
in Word on my Dell
between case notes
or maybe on a scrap piece of paper
while parked waiting for a client
that is how I imagined it
Important things always flowed effortlessly
like the boy with hair
that was my new favorite color
But that was not the reality
that I have ever lived in
My dad had tried to explain it to me many times:
“The northern star is located in the little dipper;
it is the last star in the handle”
It was lost on me, though
So I tattooed the words on my skin
never considering the still raised lines could
somehow outlast the sentiment
of the lover who never actually
had to speak the words
The words pierced through the too bright cellphone screen
directly into the place she had always known that was true
He was not the first to tell her
He was not the first she had believed
“Less is more”
She had tried so many times to channel
But her love was:
a force of nature
It exploded in every direction
like riders in the desert in search of towns
Her love was:
too weather worn
for its once agreeable host
Her host who had once said,
“Let me drink you dry”
He found that there was no bottom
Only more of the same:
Insatiable. Hungry. Love.
And once he had drank his fill
“maybe I needed less.”
— The End —