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My books are better than your social media…

I want Franny Glass, having an existential crisis, hidden under the blanket,
on her parent’s sofa, with a flea-ridden cat named Shax, avoiding her fat,
over-bearing mother and her offers of chicken broth.
I want Therese Raquine and her guilt. Her all consuming guilt, at having
done the unthinkable for love, who cares if she’s a murderer, her husband
was a whiny momma’s boy, I mean, at least Therese had the nerve to jump
off that moral cliff, and see where her convictions took her, right?
I want Billy Pilgrim, in his slaughterhouse, dipping a spoonful of malt syrup
on the sly, tucked away asleep in his meat locker, while Dresden
burned around him. Billy, who dreams bigger than anyone I know, and
never learns to apologize for it.

Imagine if he had snapchat, while held captive on Tralfamadore,
he could have sent pictures of his Hollywood starlet, naked and frightened,
made a few million, and ruined every story he ever told.

I want Esther Greenwood, in her dirndl skirt and Pollyanna blouse, with blood
on her face, tossing her wardrobe, piece by piece, from a hotel window, down countless floors, to the street below. Esther, walking about the house, with her Mother’s bathrobe belt tied about her neck, looking for a place to string herself.

I want Humbert Humbert, pedophilia and all, destroying himself for his own fetish.
I want Joseph K. unsure of his crime.
I want Jane Eyre, trapped for eternity with her blind and scarred prize.
I want Boo Radley, locked away in his house on Main street, Maycomb County.

I want the young Marcel, narrator of childhood angst, dipping his madeleine
in that lime flower tea, and remembering a passion, long since abandoned.
A sweet moment, a lost summer, that he will never know again, yet floods
his memory with a thick nostalgia, rendering him unable to even rise and dress himself.

Thank god, there was no facebook memory app, to destroy his recollection
of what really happened on this day, fifteen years ago. He probably got
the cookie wrong, the tea confused. It was actually apple juice and a ham sandwich.

I want Jay Gatsby, optimistic and in love with a woman he couldn’t have,
found dead and floating in his swimming pool and no mourners at his funeral.
But one.
I want Frankie Addams, twelve years old and awkward, cutting the calluses
from her feet with a kitchen knife, before that dinner of hopping-john,
before that little monkey danced to his organ grinder, before the wedding.
I want Zooey Glass, in the bath tub, reading an old yellowed paper letter, written by his years dead brother, with his intrusive mother, chain smoking on the other side of the thin shower curtain between them.

Text messaging would have taken the romance out that family. I prefer them
dysfunctional, thank god BooBoo didn’t have a smartphone, and had to resort
to lipstick notes on the bathroom mirror to report family news.

I want Benjy Compson, who loves three things: a golf course, his sister, and firelight.
I want Meursault, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to cry at his Mama’s funeral.
I want Emma Bovary, with her dull, clumsy husband, and messy love affairs.
I want Pierre Roland, torturing his mother over the dinner table, with allusions to her infidelity.

I want Dorian Grey, selling his soul for eternal beauty. I can handle unbridled
vanity, as long as it doesn’t come with fifteen selfies a day in my newsfeed.

I like my characters raw and honest. But, not so honest that I need a play by play
of their drive to work, or a picture of their lunch. I don’t want a photo album with three hundred and sixty-three pictures of any one year old smashing perfectly good cake into their hair.
I hate your overly filtered and perfectly pristine instagram account. My god, we all know you have a chin, probably more than one, why are you chinless and wrinkle free in every goddamned photo?

I want everything you will never be, I want you thought provoking and just
a bit startling in your mental state. I want you to almost learn a lesson, but refuse
to practice it when put to the test. I want you flawed. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Yet brilliant, nonetheless. I want to be so intrigued by your life, that I think about you for days, months, a half a year, after our last encounter. I want you stuck in my mind, on repeat, your words, your voice, playing an endless soundtrack that never stops humming in my ear. I want to be changed by you. To be disappointed in the very traits I relate to in you.

Instead, of empty, and hollow over who you actually are, or more exact, who you want to be.
I need you written by a better writer than yourself. A more engaging curator.

Because, I can’t help it, I want Zooey Glass, reclined on the floor of his childhood living room, noticing a root beer stain on the ceiling, his sister Franny, on the sofa behind him, trying to hide her obsession. Her recitation on the Jesus prayer. That little green felt book tucked into the pocket of her bathrobe, and her, needing the one thing she doesn’t know she needs.
I want Zooey Glass making phone calls from the dead, disguising his voice from a room down the hall, using long ago nicknames, to invoke the past.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…”




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First grade gym class, or How to jump out of a plane…

I always hated parachute day.
The slippery, yet sticky feel of
that slick material clutched
in my fingers, as six year old me,
clod in my blue, hand me down,
Scooby Do sneakers, skipped
in a circle, listening to the thick
breathing and beating feet
of my schoolmates.

I didn’t like them either.
Not their steps pounding on the gym floor,
nor their shrill happiness at this ritual,
as if, running around and around
with this stinking, old parachute,
was the biggest treat they could
conjure up in their unformed minds.

Three laps to the left, the teacher yelling, “shift!”
and three laps to the right. I was not a joiner.
And this was pack mentality at it’s very worst.
Still, it was not nearly as bad as that moment,
when it all spun out of control, and we were
ordered to run to the center, pulling that
damned, sweating, moth ball infested thing
over our heads. Everyone laughing like idiots,
and me, trying to keep my retching to a minimum.

Me. Scrawny and pale, and full of wild ideas.
Should I trip and set the whole thing off
as one would a row of dominoes? Children
bumping against each other and plopping
to their shiny faces, in a neat little row?
Should I stop clenching my insides that are barely
keeping my lunch down deep in my stomach,
and really give them something to scream about?
Should I just stop, cease all motion, and declare,
“enough is enough, get this rancid thing off of me?”

Being with you, is like that parachute. Something, I am
told I should enjoy, would enjoy, yet nauseates me
in this dark, alluring way, that on one hand, makes me
feel like the biggest keeper of secrets, and on the other
a victim of the cruelest of jokes. Where I am compelled
by the very thing that repels me. Yet, I drape it over my head,
time and time again, and try to remember to breathe…


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Mash-up #3 Plath and Baudelaire

(Sylvia Plath’s “Medusa” and Charles Baudelaire’s “Sed non satiate” and “Boredom it is that breeds your vicious soul…”)


Strange goddess, tawny as the dusk, you come
Swathed in lush smoke, in musk;
Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
eyes rolled by white sticks,

Some grassland Faust sired you in wizard wise,
ear’s cupping the sea’s incoherences,
Ebon-flanked witch, spawned of night’s shadowdom.
You house your unnerving head—God-ball.

More than old, heady wines, or opium,
I crave your lips’ elixir; proud love’s prize;

Lens of mercies.
Your stooges
plying their wild cells in my keel’s shadow,
Pushing by like hearts,
red stigmata at the very center,

And when my lusts trek after you, your eyes
are wells where drinks my desert’s tedium.

Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of departure,
Dragging their Jesus hair.
Did I escape, I wonder?

Let those dark eyes, I pray,
My mind wanders to you,
rain on me less
of your soul’s flame
cruel demon-sorceress;

old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable,
keeping yourself, it seems, in a state of miraculous repair.

No Styx am I, able to circle you
Nine times around;
In any case, you are always there,
tremulous breath at the end of my line,
Curve of water upleaping
To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,

nor can I—wanton shrew,
Megaera mine! —bring you to heel, and be,
touching and sucking
In your bed’s Hell, a new Persephone!



I didn’t call you.
I didn’t call you at all.
Boredom it is that breeds your vicious soul,
Vile woman! You who well would bed the whole
wide world.
Nevertheless, nevertheless
you steamed to me over the sea,

For, in your quaint and curious play,
Your jaws must find a heart to crush each day.
Fat and red, a placenta
paralyzing the kicking lovers.

And if your teeth would ply their wicked game,
Your eyes like festive-candled yews, aflame
with light-
Cobra light.
Squeezing the breath from the blood bells
of the fuchsia.

or like shop windows bright ablaze,
borrow a power, to fire their haughty gaze,
with never a notion of their beauty’s might.
I could draw no breath,
dead and moneyless
Blind, deaf machine, rich in cruel appetite,
Overexposed, like an x-ray.

Device to suck Man’s blood! For shame!
How do your looking-glasses not reveal to you
your fading charms?

Who do you think you are?
A communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?

Have you not once recoiled
to see yourself by evil thus despoiled—
I shall take no bite of your body,
Evil in which you deem yourself expert-
when blithely nature chooses to pervert
your woman’s flesh—

Bottle in which I live,
Ghastly Vatican.

Foul beast!
I sick to death of hot salt.

O queen of sin;
to shape and mold a genie-sprite therein,
and use you to perform her deviltry?

Green as eunuchs, your wishes
Hiss at my sins.

O squalid grandeur! lofty infamy!
Off, off eely tentacle!

There is nothing between us.

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Mashup #2 Rimbaud and Sexton

(Rimbaud’s “Feasts of Hunger” and Sexton’s “The Kiss”)


My mouth blooms like a cut.

My hunger, Anne, Anne,
Flee on your donkey.

I’ve been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them

If I have any taste, it is for hardly
Anything but earth and stones.

and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby, you fool!

Dinn! dinn! dinn! dinn! Let us eat air,
Rock, coal, iron.

Before today my body was useless.
Now it’s tearing at its square corners.

My hungers, turn about. Graze, hungers,
on the meadow of bran!

It’s tearing old Mary’s garments off, knot by knot
and see—Now it’s shot full of these electric bolts.

Suck the bright poison
Of the bindweed;
Zing! A resurrection!



The pebbles a poor man breaks,
The stones of churches,

Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint.

The boulders, sons of floods,
Loaves lying in the gray valleys!

It was no more than a group of boards.
But you hoisted her, rigged her.

My hungers are bits of black air;
The blue trumpeter;
She’s been elected.

—It is my stomach pulling me.
It is woe.

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical instruments.
Over the earth the leaves have come out!
Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing.

I am going to the soft flesh of fruit.
You did this. Pure genius at work.

In the heart of the furrow I pick
Lamb’s lettuce and violet.
Darling, the composer has stepped into fire.

My hunger, Anne, Anne!
Flee on your donkey.

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Love Denied in Massachusetts by Whitman

( a mash-up poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Justice Denied in Massachusetts” and Allen Ginsberg’s “Love Poem on Theme by Whitman”)


Let us abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting room.

I’ll go into the bedroom silently and lie down between the bridegroom and
the bride,
those bodies fallen from heaven stretched out waiting naked and restless,

Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under
this cloud?

arms resting over their eyes in the darkness,
bury my face in their shoulders and breasts, breathing their skin,

Sour to the fruitful seed.
and stroke and kiss neck and mouth and make back be open and known,
is the cold earth under this cloud,

legs raised up crook’d to receive, cock in the darkness driven tormented and
fostering quack and weed, we marched upon
but cannot conquer;

roused up from hole to itching head,
bodies locked shuddering naked, hot hips and buttocks screwed into each

We have bent the blades of our hoes against the
stalks of them.



Lets us go home and sit in the sitting room.
Not in our day
shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
beneficent upon us
out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea

and eyes, eyes glinting and charming, widening into looks and abandon,
and moans of movement, voices, hands in air, hands between thighs,

Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.

hands in moisture on softened hips, throbbing contractions of bellies
Forlorn, forlorn,
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.

till the white come flow in the swirling sheets,
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.

And the bride cry for forgiveness,
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and with-
ered the weed uprooted–

and the groom be covered with tears of
passion and compassion,

We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.


What from the splendid dead
We have inherited—
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued—
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.

and I rise up from the bed replenished with last intimate gestures and kisses
of farewell—

Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
all before the mind wakes, behind shades and closed doors in a darkened

At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children this beautiful

where the inhabitants roam unsatisfied in the night,
nude ghosts seeking each other out in the silence.

And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till,
with a broken hoe.


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My Life with Sylvia Plath Or How to Bake a Cake in Twenty-Three Years

click, click, click.
click, click…

I start the gas oven, and set it
to pre-heat. 350 degrees. Hot
enough to bake. The electric mixer,
on the counter behind me, whirring,
stirring the ingredients for spiced cake.

* * *

When I was nineteen, I told the boy I loved,
of my admiration, for the poetry of
Sylvia Plath. He snickered. And pulled
a book, from the cluttered shelves beside him,
flipping through pages, he took a sip of his beer,
and presented me with her death picture.

And there she was, stuffed into an oven,
head first, rumpled suit, feet shod in
high heeled sandals, sticking, stiffly
out behind her.

She wore white gloves.
Always a lady, on any occasion.
My grandmother would have been proud.

“That is where the poetry of Sylvia Plath leads you,”
he told me with a grin.

He was dark haired, this boy, and even darker eyed,
with a mouth, slightly too small for his face.
It was the kind of mouth, capable of only producing a half smile,
giving him an appearance of always having kept the
best part of the joke to himself.
He spoke often of marriage, but only when I was angry
with him, and always with that half smile.

It was not a witty age for me. Had it been,
perhaps, I would have replied,
“No, that’s where marrying a narcissist leads you.”

* * *

I smear butter into a Bundt shaped pan.
Pushing it greasily, into each crevice,
to be certain the cake doesn’t stick.
The electric mixer is still thumping its rhythm
next to me. I worry it has kept this beat,
for far too long.

* * *

When I was twenty-eight, my book club read the Bell Jar.
I hosted the discussion group, in my second floor apartment.
It was an odd, cavernous place, complete with twisting hallways,
and a large living room of windows, sat squarely behind the kitchen.
The theme was, “books we had loved in our younger years.”
It had been my month to choose. I had made a kiwi mousse,
spooning it carefully into my thrift store, champagne flutes.

Twenty or so women gathered in my threadbare home,
to discuss the issue of being woman, of being misunderstood.
We ate and drank and spoke rapidly into the late evening.

Somewhere, there is a picture of me with my friend Julia,
sitting on the stained kitchen linoleum, along opposite sides
of an open oven door. The oven was electric.

It was, still, not a witty age for me.
But, I was rather cheeky.

* * *

I pour brown batter into the oil-prepared pan,
scraping my spatula down the sides, of my silver
mixing bowl, for fear of wasting even an ounce.

It oozes, spreading itself out, around the grooved
loop of the Bundt dish. I open the oven door,
and hesitate, just for a moment, unbaked cake,
resting on a bare forearm.

* * *

I am caught up in the idea, of reading the poetry of Sylvia Plath,
as the house fills with the scent of baking spiced cake.
Caught up in the idea, of being headfirst in that oven.
My gas oven. My late afternoon kitchen.

I am prone to claustrophobia.
I am never content, for very long, in any
uncomfortable position.
I have not the stomach, for unpleasant odors.
How long does asphyxiation take?

I haven’t much time to spare.
The dog needs to be walked.
There is laundry to fold.
I have a poem in my head, nagging to be written.
Sounding it’s cadence, picking out words,

“When I was nineteen. When I was nineteen.
When I was nineteen, I told the boy I loved,
of admiration for the poetry of Sylvia Plath…”

At forty-two, I am still not at a witty age.
Nor, am I cheeky.

However, I never did marry the narcissist,
the boy with the too small mouth.

So, into the oven I shove the cake,
instead of my head,
and gently close the door.

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My mother is in the garden putting her hands in the dirt.                                      She kneels, as if in prayer, and sifts the soil through her fingers,                                                                                              ohh-ing and ahh-ing at its richness.


“Your soil is amazing, it’s so, so dark…” my Mother stammers out, “I’ve never     seen untended soil so healthy”


Hovering near her shoulder, I strain to see what is so magnificent, so       undeniably perfect about the ground behind my small city house.                                      I admit, I haven’t a clue.                                                                                  My mother turns to look at me, hands still deep in the earth, her face                                                                          a maze of solemn craziness. And just like that, I realize


everything. Every moment of every struggle for her approval, the years of pushing myself to be something,              to achieve something,  to win her over with my successes; I could have saved myself the heartache years ago.                                           All I ever needed to do was buy a little house on a side street with a thirteen by thirteen foot patch of unused dirt out back. She is proud of this, of dirt.


My dirt.




The elephant in the room is usually the last to know she is an elephant.


Until the inevitable happens,         until she begins to mature and evolve into her true form.               A slight growth of trunk,         a slackening of skin becomes an obvious wrinkle,   her step becomes heavier,     her eyes sad,       followed by a shift into occupying the third person narrative of her own life.


The elephant begins this narration as defense mechanism, only to wake up one morning as a supporting character, that exists solely to further the storyline along,           to fill


in the details necessary to the reader,

partaking in less action with each turn of page,

serving merely as an agent to bring the lead characters into fresh light,                   to reveal


their motives and thoughts,


the elephant’s job is to propel these characters through the story,

bring them full speed to the height and thrill of the story.


Alas, the elephant is never there for the climax.

A third person narrator, she steps back, slips among the shadows


and executes a bow unseen by the reader.



I peddle my bicycle beside a river.

I peddle my legs numb,

peddle my mind numb,

peddle myself into wind,

peddle myself into distraction.


A migration of Canada geese pack the pathway, I navigate through them, listen to them curse me,       wings pounding a cadence,                                           I appreciate


their disgust at my presence, pushing against me.

My life becomes a motion picture, reel after reel, each frame an empty bicycle, clicking endlessly through projector,                     spliced and taped,                         spliced and taped,

until the river ends or the bicycle drops.

The sweet thud of a body under a bumper,

the street wet and sticking,

a puddle of film bleeding red as my boots,

red as my scarf.




I peddle my bicycle beside a river.

I peddle my spine numb,

peddle my words numb,

peddle myself into wind,

peddle myself into distraction.



My bicycle,

my peddles,

my moveable manifesto.



An elephant never forgets, what has she to remember?





My mother is in the garden putting her hands in the dirt.

Pulling plants from plastic pots, she gently places them in the ground,       patting that

deep,   rich soil, solidly around their roots. She plants begonias, azaleas, a holly bush, the garden taking new shape around her,                         burying her hands wrist deep in the earth,                               she deposits bulbs of tulips and gladiolas for next year.


I watch from the window, fill the kettle and light the stove,                                                       grind coffee beans and rinse the French press. I set out cups and saucers,         the sugar bowl and cream, then tap the window.


My mother stands, brushes dirt from her knees.

My dirt.

                           My dirt.


I swallow hard,

swallow the bitterness I feel rising in my throat.








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