ripple effect from check-in at Topeka state mental hospital (1964)

it makes sense
she’s on top of me
holding me down
working heavily, you
may not leave this house

it makes sense
the flares of anger
the muscles inside our
arms and legs in the
darkness on high alert

it makes sense
the scaffolding
of the atmosphere
the whitewash exterior
which she paints red

it makes sense
the ruby carpets
the roller coaster
of reservations
the how is any of this fair?

it makes sense
for me to use
what’s right in front
of me, this tipping point
pencil to reveal everything


for Real Toads


the breathing girl has died


she’s happy it finally happened
that she’s not coming home
that she’s collecting all the coal
that would have been diamonds


for the first time, good lord
thank goodness that phrase
isn’t pinned to all the
lost girls anymore, evermore!


for really reals this time
she’s not that stupid girl
full of shame sickles
but feverish to be living


in a real specific way
all atoms and cells
are deranged, or rearranged
just as they should be, anymore


like broken cemetery leaves
she dances in deep blood orange
not just another beauty queen
in fuchsia lipstick on an empty pew



for Real Toads

[becoming] a poem in 5 acts


she doesn’t know
if she can go on
becoming every day
she does know she’ll
go on


she says,
it’s been a week
since she’s played
with her
internal organs


will she ever stop reading vitals?
working-over poems?
scratching out a perpetual
presence on paper, in passing?


to whoever’s eating this
reductionary, binary poem;
you must read the notes
[*perpetual presence means alive]


ah, she’s throwing stuff around now
& letting it land right here
at the better end, because she can,
because she’ll never let her being become
one un-becoming


for Real Toads

her condition improves

of course
she will
accept the charges
and the trouble
of who she is
why do you ask?

look at our heroine
happily burning
too close to dry brush
oblivious to the fire risk
arrow pointing somewhere
between moderate and God

her skin is fire she’ll tell you
and it’s why she can’t stop
romancing her stone
notorious for speaking
soul secrets out-of-turn
sometimes known, then not

and her pencil’s a yellow union
candle flickering in her blue closet
setting a blaze to her crappy notebook
&you can watch her wench that candle
between wrong fingers, long
–but she’ll never apologize

our lady’s chest
cavity brims with errors
a dangerous harmony,
a fierce compassion,
a divine spark

swirling, like the universe
she understands not everyone
will ask for a bedtime story
[parenthetically she scribbles
not everyone supernaturally bleeds
and doesn’t die either


for Real Toads

#196 lean the broom

i’m not looking
at it anymore
i can let it be
this way with
women in writing,
with women in libraries
talking ceaselessly
with no red Sonya to
stiff-arm us to work,
work, work, work,
work, work, work
& besides,
my fingers
want to tap out
a skitter song
& jump start my legs
to running, yes running
–as they’ve always
known how


a focus poem for d’Verse

naked new moons

all of my poems are naked new moons
swirling little eddies in the ocean
around my buoyed pelvis, and jutting hip
all of my poems are tasselled waves of
strolling minstrel music & balcony sounds
delivered intravenously into my one open ear
all of my poems want to touch the evening sky
as satin thigh, and this is also acceptable
all of my poems are marked from the start
with no sense of boundaries, bound in the dark
— a star shaped heart

30: NaPoWriMo and Real Toads
last one! off prompt, whatayagunnado?

i’ve been living this way for more than 10,000 years i think

and i don’t even know
how i am doing it
prancing to the playground
calling dibs on the swings
hanging fancy words
on the jungle gym bars
flipping my hair forever free
from real-life verbs
like rush and race

i go hunting-up some honey
which is always given
after i learned how to poise
my asking to approximate
kindness i simply need
to borrow from the bees

and pay no attention to
Jon Lucas, the pissy pirate
to all the pretty posey girls
(he only likes saying
I can see your underwear)

in the whole scheme of things
what you think is the next to
the last thing, never really is
Jon, if you keep on twirling
10,000 more days, months, or
years, — honest to god this is
the easiest way,

29: NaPoWriMo and Real Toads

i can never

seem to do you justice
by writing b-e-a-u-t-y
or taking a picture
with this old camera
— one eye always open


18: for d’Verse

tell me doctor,

do you keep the creature in the basement?

trying on different lives, like dresses,
to see which fits best and is most becoming

may i observe your lab techniques for birthing
hybrid poems? freakishly garish with good grimace


9: Real Toads

Foolish Woman,

you’d fasten your voice
to a patchwork sail
going anywhere —
today’s as good as any
to make sentences in rain,
or no rain, to have pretty
iCloud thoughts turn vaporous
because you can’t line up
the stars, — you’ll never know
who you are until you are
the swell of big blue words,
until you lick the salt of
the wave that causes you,
foolish woman, — an ache
in your arms from cutting
prepositions and pronouns
away from playful porpoises
(which is unfair to them really)
until you curve your paragraphs
and carve the sea (which no one
can do) to make a purposeful
poem beyond sparkling and clicking
understood more broadly
than dolphin speak


1: NaPoWriMo and Real Toads
Hey, “It’s National Poetry Month Peeps!”