when the sun rises
i try to blink it away

your new girlfriend,
my new guy
and all the old ones too

if i want to live the right way
i can't lie the light away

a color i've never seen before
talks to me about my
problems with men

two steps ahead of me
so i let him lead
let him tell me everything i know

let him face me with a truth
stark as a steeple
leftover from days when believers
flocked in droves to high places

and i thought
maybe we can only be worth
what we're willing to give away

maybe our deaths and our debts
lie latent
until the final tally

maybe i'll always have
problems with men
and no matter what i do
they'll never have anything
to do with Jesus

a color i've never seen before
talks to me about how
i'm the problem
and i laugh
and i try
again

a surprise packed
into a pack of royals
held knightly between two long fingers,

funny how we both picked up the habit
when the bottom dropped out.

but he's always been balanced
even, even
used to find rhythms
tapped nightly into the back of my held hand

i still feel the pulse
like it could still be springtime
like he might still smile at the thought
of me and God in the same room

like the way he hears things
in his head
i was just wondering if my voice
was one of them

like liquid love
heaven reflected
face to face

molten with light
and the heat of all living things

evening gulls
gathering, scattering, chatter-sing
lifted marionette wings

caught in the sway
resting in the rock

fly, fly away, fly away

bleached blacktop
misfit machine

come haystack or handbag
inner elbow
sidewalk

dope up good
keep the flies off

tide taken
ad absentia
an omen's worth

a never-sent postcard from the dark underside of a tourist town

follow your will
just like an arrow
straight and fast away

follow a lie
like a silk ribbon
floating down

follow your soul
through the valley, the mire
cross your heart and carry your weight
be a train and run early

i taught myself how to dream
imagining sounds and songs
circling the avenue
training wheels blazing

i hummed to myself
dictating a magnum opus
inventing my childhood

no hero, no villain
no cowboy, no indian
just a tiny girl
devising a tiny life
for one

mindful and still
until the youth-shedding summers
the desperate dash
from lover
to lover
to lover

no time to breathe
no love for a lost little sister

nothing but
a nickname
a good talk
a laugh

small things that cook themselves together
into trust
slow but blooming
pushing at the gloom

no motive, no pretense
no implication, no obligation
just a friend
like a brother
with a door that stays open
a strange kind of strength
and a strange kind of fondness
for me

— The End —