To Walk the Tightrope

You can call yourself any name
A wonderful mother
A healthy adult
A new face
Moving across the country to
Fight the battle

Your fears are the result of your history
The West coast
The lap of luxury
The one you describe
To avoid becoming
One acquaintance to another
Who is everything

They do not have to become
Happy and outgoing

They do not have to become
Apologies for changing


Trying to Kill

I don’t catch him in time
In the passenger seat
Forever trying to think of excuses
I don’t catch him
Talking on the cell
To the home of someone
Short of breath

And I can’t control
Trying to kill
Starting the ignition
I insist on driving
My heart pounds and I perspire profusely
I don’t know how to explain that
Sometimes I don’t catch him in time
Sometimes I don’t catch him


Older by the Time

You have years before
They’ll remember your letter

You have years before
This dynamic changes
The day, or even the day before
The summer months and
Being damaged by it

You have years before
The transition occurs
With travel season
The road to
Sleepless nights and headaches
Hoping you could
Find a room for the night

Forced to drive several hundred miles to
A motel in Montana
Where you should not be
Where they would like to
Allay your fears
Before they start the ignition and head for the highways


You’re One of Them

The important thing is to always say “thank you.”
When I’m asked
When, upon departing, someone says,
Jumping the gun,
"I’d be more than willing"
But only after
The point of illness
But only after
The anger in all of us

And the toll it will take
I could hardly believe
How your body will tolerate
And I can see the writing
On my body
Nose to the grindstone
And I loved
The stimulation of being


Trouble, Columbia, MO.

And it’s usually true
That you are better off not
Doing exactly what you are doing
The price of being
A prude but
A laborer, not an apprentice

It’s usually true if
I want to
Never have to worry
About where you’ll be
Until I get
Home and which
Person there should be
Anywhere with anyone
If you ever find yourself
You are better off not running


Never Interested in Romance

The right man for you
Is the wrong reason
And a house
Is uncomfortable for me
Willing to wait
For a year
For the wedding
Never interested in romance or
The repercussions if I do

If you like
The quicker you
If you like
I like a few
I haven’t always
Having a difficult time
Letting myself be
My whole life


Unresolved Trust

I had a sudden urge
To conceal something
Regardless of what
The man you’re with is
The straight and narrow
Rules of etiquette, or

Keeping things from each other
Some unresolved trust
Unwilling to do either
I was kidding when we were talking
I was kidding when we
Said “Maybe after”
I was kidding when we were
Asking for the
Sooner rather than later


Rattling the Skeletons

Nowhere in your letter
Will tell you
The whole story
The last 18 months
The night with
The web and
Rattling the skeletons

In the dark
Poking around the family closet
Nowhere in your
Straight answers, no more
Under the carpet
Wanting to know

The way your
Husband goes into a tirade
The way your
Very distant mother
Will tell you all you need to know
Will tell you
Some honest answers
Will tell you
The bottom of what they are


No Sex in New Jersey

You had said you wanted
A spiritual ceremony
Something to honor
The lucky ladies
Naturally looking a little worn

The five years I
Wanted cosmetic surgery
I would hope that, even if
The favor will never be returned

That even if
I don’t think you are
A few romantic weekends at a hotel
A physical or emotional
Idea of what your future would be

That even if
You are selfish for feeling the way
You wouldn’t start looking;
Some women do


Local Anonymous

I have never met you in person
But I’m curious

I could come up with
Time to think over the summer
Some crucial step
A very intense, but short-lived relationship
A mutual friend
We met again
At the behest of
An outside authority

Or should I keep quiet?
Searching for an accurate way to
Be able to tell you
Of the house
Of the cars
The suspicious activity and the needles
That could destroy whatever story
I can’t tell you

Should I keep quiet
And plan to stay that way?


Every Pitiful Creature

I do not think
Of my past
On good terms
While you may
Embrace every pitiful creature
Wanting to be there
To share in the festivities
I have since moved on

To my hometown
Moving back to
Check up on
The family I love
Moving back to
Embrace every pitiful
Part of my past

I have been living
Afraid and uneasy
The last few years


Toys to Keep

I put a gated area around
A controlled environment
And vowed to find a way to make
You break it

But I was wasting my breath
then, rewarding such
Small tokens of appreciation
Creating a designated play area
They could watch
Unruly and disruptive

It was enough
To keep them busy
I did gesture upward
Until they showed up
And when they did, I’d thank them for smiling


Sit Still

I dread the days
Around the house

But I do find time
To separate you
To put distance between
The counseling and medication

I do find time
Taking care of the kids
Reading and writing
I do find
A day off
The one farthest away
Doing something. This.
For almost ten years

I’m afraid I will soon resent
The time you lost
The time you
Can never get back the time you lost
Doing something. This.


Sugar Land, Texas

I visit the cemetery
After a self-imposed seclusion
With something that would have otherwise been discarded

Paying a compliment
Cleaning up one’s own mess
Wilting flowers that would have been thrown out

The world needs more of it


If You Need to Return

I didn’t think much about
The evening, or
The bouquet that was somehow lost in transit
Not knowing who sent them
Not knowing who
Is sending flowers this way

I didn’t think much
As to what the protocol is for
Not thinking straight

I almost feel like
A grief therapist
A bowl on the counter for people to leave tips
A sad reflection
Obligated to do it again

I am in my early 30s
And I almost feel like
I don’t know what to do

I almost feel like
I understand this