Cellscar lights his headlights he skids all over the ice
we sit and talk about the nature of radiohead
and working for 8.50 an hour and how
our bosses all suck
it seems honest
when you think about it.
i stop and stare and try not to pay attention
when my stomach crawls to my throat
this mornings breakfast screaming let me go
i couldn't sleep off the vicodin
the tax returns were missing again
the lines i keep imagining on my face
are back and then
the inside of my mouth
is covered in sores
i'm scared to look too closely at my body
i see cancer cells and i smell burning hair and
i think i am rapidly depleting more each day
i think i am falling apart sometimes
like those weird dreams
where you lose all your teeth
i was mad at the fact that everything i was told to care about meant honestly nothing to me
a gpa, a resume, a transcript, a car, new clothes, a long line of people
to get into the show.
seems like everything the world has come to offer us
just takes us farther from human experience
and it has this way of making things that are obvious,
we decided to brave the cold, and climbed out the kitchen window
she had jammed all the doors shut
because “they were slamming too much.”
I broke a glass on the way out, and left the pieces lying all over the floor
i am so goddamn bored.
the frozen streetlights melted into ice, colliding with the darkness
that kept us alive. we walked, eyes wide, i slipped at least twice-
i thought i could feel neurons exploding like stars a billion miles away firing
off their last breath and dying. after that i didn’t eat for a day, two, three
it became such an easy, technical way- to escape reality
Now I've come to laugh
at the cold dawn moments of
waking up to snow falling and
clumps of hair clogging the sink
i've come to laugh
at the sunken skin and bruised hips
i've come to laugh, i swear i have
at all the things
Name Her Remembered
A false taste of spring rests
heavy and clean in the back of
my mouth today.
It is December, so
I know the scent of wildflowers,
of insects hatching in droves
on her golden prairie,
is only a lie.
I have a feeling she would have loved
today with its blue skies
and soft air creeping quietly to
dusk, clouds purpling to black bruises
against the Christmas night.
There are names for what she was.
Words only, not enough to tell,
never enough to tell
what the trembling
pound of buffalo hide beaten white
with drumming told,
the sob of the men’s voices as
they sang her home.
She is the last, they said,
she will be forgotten in long slow stages
by the young
who have no true notion
of their loss.
She will return sighing
to her golden prairie,
like the bittersweet tang
of spring in winter.
December 9, 2010
Dedicated in honor to Cynthia, Edna, and Louise,
and to my own grandmothers, Arvadell and Evelyn Elizabeth
A Lakota student takes nitroglycerin pills when heart pains encompass her. “Like beating wings,” she says. “I live a strange lifestyle.” Not much younger than she, I listen in the silent space to my heartbeat. I nod when she challenges me with whippings she enduring by nuns at the boarding school, her eyes caressing the floor of the once army barrack’s room that serves as a classroom. The dense air welcomes ghosts. She lacks the memory of the offense, forced to lean over, to brace her moist palms on the nun’s desk, her behind becoming naked as the nun pulls down her panties. The dark eyes of the boys grow wider as they look askant at the horror played out on the pine floor in front of that makeshift altar, before television, before vibrations filled our minds with oblivion, before alcohol became escape, while other young girls, frozen in fear like does before a slaughter, kneel in rows beside them, the hems of their uniforms in arcs like crescent moons. The silence becomes like flour. I reach over to touch her hand, but the air between us lengthens. Nothing but shadows. My body becomes amorphous, fused with the Anglos of centuries. I too suffered whippings, but in woodsheds alone with my father, for speaking out of turn, for sassing back. The student and I talk about fiction, and I tell her that a woman in prison who calls up her sister for money and gets some, that alone is not a story. “Her story begins in Brazil, goes to Columbia, then Mexico,” she says. I agree with her that this imaginary cousin must change on this journey: “Yes, I’m sure she does, Theresa.” Her Lakota name, Wicaka.* “Like a shiny Christmas ball,” she says.
tells the truth