Tuesday, January 27, 2009


wanton \WON-tn\, adjective:
1. reckless, heartless, or malicious; without reason or excuse
2. not moral; lewd, lascivious

Wanting. Needing. That's all there was then.
Dancing on the bar, skirt up, neckline down, leaning over the wrong side of the bar to grab a $1 beer from a bucket. Flash the tender a smile if he sees it. Jiggle a little, so nothing matters as much as what he's looking at.

Pop the tab, but don't forget to keep dancing. Lift the can to drink the fuel to make the hips swing wider, slower, longer. Maintain balance in those black heels with head tilted back, throat chugging. Put a free hand out and swing to the beat blaring from the loudspeakers.
Don't slip when the slimy hands of the local men grab at ankles and knees, aiming for the hem of the skirt. The bartop slick with the spilled remains of tequila shots and squirts of lime, grainy salt grinds underfoot, a bit of friction to lend a hand to balance.
Laughing, bend over and put the empty down. Take the men who offer their hands on the way to the floor. Know you are just as empty.

Monday, January 26, 2009


sallow \SAL-oh\, adjective: having a sickly, yellowish color

She didn't look good, slouched down around the toilet bowl, waiting for the next wave of nausea to rise. She already felt it swelling in her body, and she rocked slightly back and forth, as if lost at sea, and she clung tightly to the cool porcelain, as if it were her life raft, which in a way it was, she thought, grinning weakly at her joke.
Suddenly imagining herself as actually being adrift in a gray vast ocean, the choppy waters in her stomach began to rise and she lifted herself above the rim, waiting, willing the muscles in her throat to begin their contracting. When she thought of how many people must have sat there, with bare, exploding buttocks, she finally vomited. Pink stuff. Chunky. Gross. But she was also grateful.
Having rode that one out, she slouched back against the cupboard below the sink, in a movement both clumsy and measured. Not for the first time that night, she asked herself why. Just then, laughter exploded from the kitchen, glasses clinked together and a clamorous chorus of "It's a Pirate's Life for Me" began. She wanted to be laughing too, but all that came out was a groan, as the sea in her stomach rose, determined to sink her ship. A bottle of rum. Yo-ho...

Thursday, January 22, 2009


rancor \RANG-ker\, noun:
bitter resentment or ill will; extreme hatred or spite

Pulling at her hair, wanting to tear it all out, she faces the mirror and keeps yanking, until her scalp is throbbing, and she stops, finally imagining it coming out in fistfuls. She goes to the desk in her room and starts opening and closing the drawers, looking. Frantically pilfering through the odds and ends inside each, until she finds them. The scissors: metal, long, and sharp.
She goes back to the mirror. Looks at herself. Pulls up a few locks of her hair with her left hand, holding the shears in her right. And as she cuts, she looks into her own eyes, and sees them determined, suddenly clear. It feels right, as the scissors slice through the strands of brown.
At first she only cuts to the halfway point of the length of her hair, but as the first bunch falls to the floor and the leftover flops to her cheek, it's still too long, and there's not enough hair on the wooden floorboards, so she grabs more of the stuff still attached to her head and starts cutting closer to her skull. Up and around her ears to the nape of her neck and the top of her forehead, she cuts, until there's nothing left for her to pull up and stretch out, nothing more for the teeth of the scissors to bite into, until, for all intents and purposes, she is bald.
Her head is naked and feeling the coolness of the night air inside her room, she reaches up and rubs, enjoying the new sensation. Yes, she's enjoying this: looking different, feeling different. It's not her in the mirror anymore. She bends down and begins picking up what she's cut off, puts it all in the garbage. All the anger has left her, but she knows it's only for now, and somewhere beneath her newfound freedom, she wonders what next she'll have to cut off to feel happy again, to feel anything at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


pandiculation \pan-dik-yuh-LEY-shuhn\, noun: an instinctive stretching, as on awakening or while yawning

Like cats we stretch,
and rearrange,
curl up inside
a warm spot we've made.

Monday, January 19, 2009


kinetic \ki-NET-ik\, adjective: of or having to do with motion; caused by motion

Moving forward, I think about the feet inside my shoes. And I concentrate on the heat on my arms and the slight breeze at my back and the evenly spaced trees that line the street to my right. I keep my eyes on the sun-dappled sidewalk and my steps inside the connecting shadows of the elms. One foot in front of the other.
When I feel like skipping, I do. Knee up, heel back, toe push up. Knee up, heel back, toe push. Arms swing. I make my hands into fists. I try to skip higher, and higher. Each step more fierce than the one before, briskly flinging myself forward. Stop. Walk again. Fists still swinging. It's a fast walk, until I'm running. The trees whisk outside my peripheral vision. I watch the lines and cracks of the sidewalk slip underneath me. The air that was warm is now chill on my face and arms. I feel goosebumps raising. And I push my legs and the bend of my knees to work harder, make me faster. I do my best to breath in through my mouth and out through my nose. Only when I feel the cramp begin under my ribs, and see the numbers of my mailbox, do I slow down.
I turn left, go through the gate of my house, walk up to the steps and enter beside the stairs to the second floor, make my way to the kitchen, pour and drink a glass of milk from the fridge, set it in the sink and leave the house again through the sliding glass doors behind the kitchen table. I walk to the edge and lay down, stretching out my body to its fullest length. After a deep breath, I throw myself over. I laugh into the green grass as I roll down the hill, stealing glances of the blue sky as I flip, flip, flop to the bottom.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


jettison \JET-uh-suhn, JET-uh-zuhn\, noun: the act of throwing goods overboard when a craft is in distress; also, the goods thrown overboard

I guess you could say we were sinking, say we were the captains going down with the ship.
That's certainly what it felt like. But we held on at the sides, didn't we? Did our best to plant our feet, pretend we weren't slipping. Didn't we? Grinning over our shoulders at one another from our opposite sides, gritting our teeth, preparing for the inevitable, the rising water at our ankles.

What was it we said to each other in those days? I can hardly remember. Only now I see clearly all the signs we intentionally ignored, and I wonder why lovers do that. Oh, lovers, why?

I recall now one morning when I turned to you in bed, your body curled beneath the covers, and I made myself to fit around you. Just as I relaxed and took in the scent of your skin, you straightened. The intimate curl of your back turned hard and you shifted so that I had to make room for your shoulder and elbow. I knew, with that single movement, I had been dismissed. I remember that was the first time I imagined our bed as a boat,
and as I turned away to face the wall, I could almost feel the cold spit of the waves as they rose.

Monday, January 12, 2009


hapless \HAP-lis\, adjective: unlucky; unfortunate

An old mop that not even Cinderella could love leans propped in the corner of a dusty laundry room.
Forlorn. Forgotten. It sighs and its long, stained braids of dingy rope give a tiny, pathetic shudder. The gray cement is cold. The air is drafty. Only a musty arm of light shoots down into the middle of the floor from the single basement window that unwittingly adorns the room. This ray of light only makes the lonely mop's corner feel even darker, and so again it sighs.
Without exactly meaning to, it keeps track of the time by watching the path the stream of light takes throughout the days. Most times its barely aware that the days go by at all. It dares not care about years.
Sometimes it wishes a small breeze would flit by and knock it to the floor, break its wooden shaft in half, or even simply send it spinning around the room, anything to end the monotony of its mindless misery, hoping that the bucket were there too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


daunt \dawnt, dahnt\, verb:
1. to frighten; overcome with fear
2. to discourage; lessen the courage of

"Don't," she said, but he pulled at her hand again, urging. "Seriously, Joseph, stop it."
"Seriously, Joseph, stop it," he taunted her.
She yanked her hand out of his grasp. Immediately, her other hand began to rub her wrist where he had been pulling at her.
He let his hand drop to his side, but then, just as suddenly, he let it sweep back up to try to grab her again.
She dodged him.
"I don't understand what you're so afraid of," he said, pouting now.
"And I don't care," she said, able once again to allow the tone of defiance to spring back into her voice, which had only moments ago been filled with pleading.

The ocean roared beyond them, just below the cliff. She could see the waves breaking, hear them beating against each other with white, foaming fists, feel them in the ground beneath her feet, crashing into the shore, where she imagined they would finally find the space to spread out, uninhibited, and peacefully sink their fingers between the infinite grains of sand.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


yegg \yeg\, noun: a burglar who robs safes; safecracker

I bang and crack the white
thin shell against the hard,
contoured edge of a stone bowl,

and with the fingers of both hands,
rend the halves I've created
apart and empty out the contents within.

I toss away the remainder
of the small universe, destroyed,
watching as the eye of a yellow sun,

floats in a mattress of clear liquid rays
and settles at the bottom of the bowl,
staring up at me.

with the tongs of a fork,
I puncture its globe and beat,
until it explodes,
diffusing into a whirlpool
of my own creation.