a girl child

two decades ago i took

an overdue trip to Central Ohio

introducing my former mother-in-law to her six month old twin grandsons

we got to talking about Kentucky

as all transplanted Kentuckians do

we bounced gurgling baby innocence on our respective maternal knees having our own little gossip social

curling wispy baby hairs in her worn fingers

her laughter turned to pained breaths

as she shuttered out

a mortifying truth

about a bluegrass upbringing

she was discussing how she had been repeatedly raped as a girl by her father in Hyden, Kentucky

ran away to something worse at 14

how her first marriage ended when she found her alcoholic unemploymed coal miner husband was molesting her two little girls while she was waitressing to support the jerk

fleeing north to Ohio with them

to single motherdom with three kids in the 1960s living in a car until she could afford a place to rent

tears streamed down

her withered cheeks

as she said

“A girl child isn’t safe growing up around a family of men in the South.”

20 years later i think of her words and the women in my biological family

four generations of women who tried to protect their genitalia from one family member

the irony of being expected to smile and pretend

give forgiving hugs

that i’m the one who doesn’t feel comfortable coming to the Thanksgiving table

not the man who couldn’t keep his hands to himself

ghost light

the moment he turned

and walked away

our world became peckinpah

i can no longer discern

whose blood

my hands are weeping over

high school interrupted

in the 1990’s

your flannel shirt

was a cultural ticket

that took you

greasy haired

through a graffiti pocked

bathroom stall door

to a grunge wünderland

where herpes came standard

with every tribal tattoo

nirvana whining

about your libido

a mosquito

&

girlfriends untrue

your dreams will be

dry humped

in a Geo Metro,

Generation X,

your so-called life…

high school interrupted

…eating Pearl Jam until

Zima vomit came to the house party too

with green apple jollyranchers

attended by

your skankiest girlfriend

who smoked Marlboro Reds

with the acumen

of a triple divorcee

her eyelids

the trashiest

ice blue

Paris in the rain

a woman’s life

is too tenuous

delicate

billowy

spider web

close call on I-75

in preterm labor

on the way to the

Paris airport

in the rain

fragile

beautiful

precious

sacrosanct

finite

for bad friends

bad family

bad coffee

bad shoes

bad mattresses

bad jobs

bad husbands

bad debt

and bad dick

learn this by 30 for maximum

enjoyment

future

female

conquerors

of a dying planet

Dinner at the Sizzler

if purgatory

is a soup kitchen line

in a catholic church

hell

is serving up grub

on the corner of 8th & vine

southern baptists

pulling up

in their tax exempt jesus wagon

to serve homeless people

hot chili in july

heaven, happens

in Cincinnati

when pigs fly

The Secret of My Traveling Crystal Necklace

Back in 2012, when I had my first book release in Los Angeles, I had a crystal beaded necklace that pulled apart in my suitcase. It seemed wrong to rid myself of the estranged gems, and I harboured unlikely notions of restringing the beloved bauble one day. As I was packing to leave, some of the beads accidentally rolled under my voluptuous bed in The Biltmore Hotel. I suspect they may still be there, as things seem not to change much there, except the sheets, and I liked the notion of leaving a part of myself behind in the City of Angels.

The beads remained in my suitcase as I drove and flew to poetry gigs all over the country for the next few years. In keeping with the precedent set in Los Angeles, I started purposefully dropping them in places I stayed. I would toss the pea-sized stones into locations they were unlikely to be found: down antique brass filigree air vents in byzantine hotels, behind cabinetry permanently affixed, through imperfectly sawed holes cut for plumbing to climb and dive through plaster, beneath the loose floorboards of my friend’s apartment, into the chasms of airport elevator shafts. You get the idea.

There are pieces of my secret crystal beaded necklace hidden in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach, Berkeley, Venice Beach, San Francisco, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, Elyria, Canton, Nashville, Lexington, Dallas, Cincinnati, and even pitiful Little Rock, Arkansas, a place I didn’t care for at all. I consider them amulets to protect people and cities with whom I fell in love, and talismans to keep away those whom I didn’t. The faceted baubles keep me tethered, connected through minutiae, in the smallest of ways.

More beads remain in my suitcase to this day, an impossible amount hidden within the satin folds, certainly a greater number than my finite crystal necklace was ever originally composed of. It is as if the universe is telling me that I have more journeys to take, love to make, and fine people to meet. So, if you’re staying in a heat wilted hotel by the Pacific Ocean, enduring a vaulted matchbox overlooking the Hudson River, standing by a tuneless luggage carousel, or renting a beautiful two bedroom flat nestled near Lake Erie, and a magical crystal bead finds you, that’s just me…and I’ll be seeing you.

 

dad’s gonna be pissed

my generation had no great war

until the towers fell

and the government invented one

then we were told

it’s not our fight

beyond the departures gate

at the airport

our struggle is removing our shoes

and grabby TSA agents

we never grew a victory garden

we never salvaged all our metal to make bullets

or watched the soldierly  Vietnam death toll

march across the bottom of our television screens

we were raised by Atari systems, Pop Rocks, Sweet Valley High books,

and Bob Barker’s skinny microphone

so forgive me, my fellow

generationally x’d out americans

if i don’t give a shit

about your opinions on the upcoming election

i am not your dirty hooker

i’m tired of being treated like a dirty hooker

because i feel free

to voice my opinions

joke

use clever little double entendres

assert myself as a woman

who admires the human form

both male and female

and shockingly

even my own voluptuous body

so i have dared to post photos of it

.

write poems

produce art

which express my feelings freely

.

i’m tired of waking up every morning

to private messages on facebook

from seemingly educated

and mostly married men

left in a drunken stupor

or on a predatory whim

hey baby

wanna fuck

cunt dick pussy

or various combinations thereof

.

no

no i don’t

nor do i want you to cum on my face

or any other part of my body

.

these digital pussies wouldn’t have the balls to behave in such a way

to my face

but social media and the internet

removes the barrier of decorum

it invites subterfuge, sickness, and depravity

desecration becomes acceptable

redefines morays

.

i have a folder in which i keep

eight years worth of facebook sexual violations

for legal record

which contains 71 unwanted dick pics

and two sets of tits

let’s not leave out the ladies

.

i have one creep who leaves nasty messages on my blog

using several different names

but the idiot doesn’t know

i traced his ip address

preparing for war

in a folder of every infraction

funny how serious they take internet stalking these days

.

and he’s not the first

and he won’t be the last

but this is a defect

of the information age

.

the criminal inside your home

invited by your mere existence

.

i didn’t ask for any of this

.

but i refuse to be less me

to accommodate their disease

.

this behavior speaks to the abuser

the vile betrayer

and says nothing about me

.

but what i will no longer do

is be polite

for the sake of decorum and decency

as these individuals

have never extended

those courtesies to me

.

so the next time you feel so inclined

prepare for the my wrath

prepare to receive

exactly what you deserve

vengeance

just before

i take my leave

you’re so much like daddy, be the death of me

my father died in 1984

i haven’t been able to remember his voice since 1986

and the sound of a voice

is the most precious thing to me

but this morning

your twang brought back synapses who longed for three decades to remember

“Daddy loves you, Alicia, be a good girl”

(and i died a thousand deaths in the minutes still ringing after)

and how five minutes later

out the front door

would go all my mother’s clothing

and our Zenith console TV

thank you for that

saddle up, cowboy

give me immortality

you’re so much like daddy

be the death of me

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