Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Rules for Growth

Simple times, then. A friendship sealed
over a traded lunch item, validated further
when the teacher made certain not to seat
the two of you together. Because the bond
is a distraction; it keeps you from learning
rules, process, structure. Eyes on your paper.
Betrayal hits a small body hard, an unbalanced
force: failure to save a seat. You get bigger,
taller, and the rules are changing faster than
you can keep up with them. And the classroom
now has become nothing short of a minefield.
There is nowhere to step that doesn’t yield
explosive paroxysms of laughter at your expense.
That’s when the rule is to create your own rules.


I don’t want to write a poem today.
I am tired and my eyes hurt and I’m
cranky and I’m not feeling creative
at the moment and I’m sure it will pass
and I’ll be fine and don’t worry about
a thing and every little thing is
gonna be Bob Marley and I’ll get back
into the groove tomorrow I don’t doubt
and the world won’t end and it’ll keep on
spinning and keeping on and every
other possible analogy that
I can think of but I’ll think of them all
tomorrow and not today because I
just don’t want to write a poem today.

Sweet Dreams

She pushed the covers down from around her throat and turned to him. “It was a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from,” she said.

“Then go back to sleep,” he said.


Circumstances, finances,
and just plain
kept me with a mouth
full of
teeth resembling tombstones in an old cemetery,
one rotated incisor jutting
so far up
into my mouth
as to
make me look half-wolfish.

What’s wrong with your TEETH?
a small niece asks of me,
herself surrounded by
smiles…the birthright of the suburban teenager.

There’s nothing wrong with them, I tell her.
They’re simply not straight.

I take a kind of
perverse pride
in my jagged
countenance – my way of saying,
“Fuck you. This is MY beauty.”

In Japan, they call it yaeba,
and women pay the equivalent
of thousands of dollars
to look as I do –
irregular, with a smile
that takes adjusting to.

Minute Rice

I guess minute quinoa, actually.
I don’t know how many syllables that
words is, so don’t bother sifting through the
lines in hopes of finding some deep-seated
secret message in this particular
piece. I forgot what I wanted to write
about, fuck. Now I’ll spend the rest of the
poem stalling until I ultimately
recall what this scribbling was all for.
If I really wanted to be a douche—
I do—I’d wait until the absolute
last line to unveil some meaningless phrase
or word, something absurd, like mittens, or
minute rice, pretend it was so artsy.

Attack of the Were-Chinchilla

“Look at it! It’s so fluffy!” Lucy said. She turned her head to the side as she awaited a response but kept her eyes focused on the furry grey chinchilla in the cage. The animal stood upright on its muscular hind legs, its tiny hands wrapped around the thin metal bars to help it keep its balance. It waved its twitchy nose in the air, as if trying to peer around its own snout to get a better look Lucy. “You gotta see this, John. It’s got like, little T-Rex person hands.”

Lucy peered over her shoulder and saw John standing by the doorway of the pet store, poking at his smartphone. Her head followed the rolling arc of her eyes as she looked back at the poor trapped critter. She sighed and slipped a waggling finger between the bars of the cage. “Hewwo Mistew Mogwai,” she said in that cutesy falsetto that we all reserve for animals and babies. “That’s what you are. You’re a little Mogwai, like in Gremlins. That’s why they can’t get you wet, no.” Her finger brushed along its fine fur coat, revealing starbursts of white hair beneath its dark grey tips. Her voice returned to its normal tone and she said, “Oh my god, you are the softest thing I’ve ever touched.”

The chinchilla let out a sharp, high-pitched bark and snapped at Lucy’s finger. She  gasped and quickly pulled her hand away. The chinchilla yipped again and bit down on the bars. She wondered how such a cute little creature could get so mean. Lucy noticed a small dab on blood on the tip of her finger. She stuck it in her mouth to suck the blood away and she heard John say, “We should really get going. It’s almost rush hour and mall traffic always sucks. Especially when it’s a full moon. That’s when everyone —  ” He stopped in the middle of his sentence, the skin on his face stretching back in disgust. “I hope you washed your hand first. Those things are disgusting. They literally bathe in dirt.” Lucy pulled her finger out of her mouth and hid both her hands behind her waist, as if he wouldn’t notice. “C’mon, let’s get out of here,” he said as he strode towards the door.


Evening came and the honey-colored moon grew brighter in the blue-black sky. John had an early shift the next morning, so the two of them had crawled into bed around 9pm. Lucy was surprised at how easily she fell asleep, but by 11:30, she was completely awake again, staring up into the sky as hunger pangs came over her. She went out into the kitchen and tore through the refrigerator but nothing caught her interest. Then she looked on top of the refrigerator. She saw a box of mini Sun-Maid raisin packs. She could feel her eyes grew wider, bright as the moon, as she grabbed one of the little snack packs and tore through the cardboard visage of that red-berretted woman and let the sweet, sun-soaked wrinkles fall across her tongue. But she could only eat two before her heart began to race. The sugar made her fingers tremble and she was overcome with thirst.

Lucy ran over to the kitchen sink and turned the water on, lapping at the faucet, little droplets spraying on the counter. She was lightheaded, woozy, though not quite tired. With three good hops she found herself standing in the living room, suddenly beckoned by the creases in the couch. She curled up beside it, making herself as small as she could, and tried to hide beneath it, but she was still too large. She tucked her head down and pulled herself in tighter. She held herself more tightly across her chest when she noticed delicate clumps of silky fur covering her shoulders and her back. She reveled in the softness as she shrank and shrank and shrank…


The brain of a chronic alcoholic is small, shriveled – like something left to dry out but forgotten. It’s far more terrifying to look at than the Alzheimer’s brain, which looks exactly like I thought it would. Like something that’s just stopped working.

I try not to think of my own brain as a wadded up towel in the driveway, something that served its purpose but had done the job so many times that it was starting to fray and grow threadbare in patches where it had been really ferociously applied. I’d like to think I stopped in time.