Thoughts My Morning Coffee StirsI believe in the strength of the first sip of coffee
and the rickety leg on the chair at the table.I believe her tattooed shoulder, against my tattooed thigh
never altered the planet’s arch,
nor the speed cancer grows on a kidney,
nor how many children will be cold tonight as they sleep.I stopped believing in heroes when a judge let
Brock Turner walk free after three months.I believe in the way monarch butterflies fly home
to Mexico every fourth generation.I don’t believe bloody Marys cure a hangover.
I believe morning breath can be the most powerful way
to fall out of love with someone,
but sometimes be the most powerful way
to remember why you first did.I believe hair-ties always break when you need them most
and spoons shoveling ice cream bend too easily.I believe the first shot of whiskey makes
you believe everything that comes after it.I don’t believe in the God of my childhood,
but when Granny remembers every word to “Amazing Grace,”
I feel holier than the water Christ was baptized in.I believe in strengthening your pelvic floor and self-appreciation.
I started believing in heroes again when Judge Aquilina
sentenced Nassar to 175 years.I believe if the sex is good,
the after sex cigarette will be better.I believe in the wisteria that stains the wind,
in shrieking sirens at 3am in the city streets,
in the smell of apricots coming off her neck.I believe if dreams exist then nightmares do too,
but best of all,I believe we wake up from those dreams where our teeth fall out,
or we fall endlessly into that black pit,and feel relief like cool shade cover us when we wake,
feel comfort, like healing tattoos,when the sharp ache finally fades.
Hangnails and Other Bad Habits
Enamel finds the sharp corner of my index finger
Her lips glisten Broadway red,
eyelids shine yellows and reds and blacks.
She leans on the counter, he eyes her,
she straightens, swallows and laughs.
Lips pushed up out of the way, two parallel edges of white grab hold
Her eyes, moss green, flicker to mine,
her black pools islands in a marsh.
Cheeks rise, she shows her teeth,
nonthreatening, terrified, and harsh.
Slow, deliberate pull away, the flesh tears from home
His hand braces her waist, grips.
Her hand grips the counter, tensed.
Moss green ripped away from
brown stone, last act of defense.
Red molecules released into cautious air
And suddenly she can’t breathe.
And suddenly I can’t breathe.
He pulls, she releases too late- she looks
again, one last glance, silent plea.
The end of my skin finally freed, blood drips onto my register.
Stay in the Lines
Splinters of rain hit my eyes
Momentarily blurring my vision
Wet kisses from a slobbery sky dog
I smile as she shivers under a blanket
Snuggled with the daughters
Wet hair and sudden bursts of laughter
Rain so strong conversations turn to yelling matches
Wet gets wetter and dry disappears
Like droplets on a page
Dark circles fading to light
But leaving a faint stain that will make me wonder
Years from now, what it was
How do you make a hard torrent pleasant?
You color with an eight-year-old on the porch.
The page of my coloring book is wet and—
Have you ever tried to color on a wet page?
Pressing harder makes the pages tear
The tips of a sharp pencil stab through parchment.
Colors don’t blend— they smear.
Brown turns to mud, peach turns to mush.
Scarlet runs like blood down the princess’s dress
Gold melts like saturated petals
On a sunflower; but the black print
The blood will flow over them
And the mud will make the pages dirty
Like flash flooding seeping into the corners of the basement
And the golds will melt like candle wax
Black lines sturdy.
The princess still holds her book,
Pages torn, frayed—
an imperfect masterpiece
unable to become something better,
unable to read words that once
might have been written,
unable to mix colors together.
Can’t hang it on the fridge.
Shred it. Throw it away.
I was never good at coloring in the lines anyway.