When You Confuse His Name with Absolution

Tell me the last time you felt
without his hands on you.

Open your heart like a prayer book
and pull out the rosary beads
one by one;
spill them down the aisle of the church,
make a note of every one that bears his name.

Remember the way your mother
used to remind you
“your body is a temple”
Remember there was no addendum;
no “only when he’s inside of you”.

There is a cross of ash
imbedded in the grey matter of your brain;
it rises to the surface every time
you pray to see him again.

Fat Tuesday laments in shame,
reminds you
it’s a symbol that you have purged yourself of all unclean things.
Instead, light a candle for him.

Tell me the last time you said
“I love you”
without simultaneously asking for forgiveness.

Tell me the last time you felt
without his hands on you.


For Boys Who Hold Grief Between Their Teeth

I look at you
while holding love
under my tongue.

I look at you
with your fox-like smile
that doesn’t reach your eyes.

I look at you and keep my mouth closed.

I look at you and hope you let yourself
every once in a while.


Prodigal Daughter
falls into the company of fools:
rejects family,
rejects boy,
rejects home.
Knows touch,
ends up alone,
leaves den

Boy is not brother.
It is not his job
to keep her from wrong lovers.
He warns her once
with a smile and a wink
and then kisses the backs of her hands with a promise
that he’ll pick up the pieces
of her heart when it breaks.

Prodigal Daughter
returns home
clean cut
to family,
to boy she links fingers with,
to boy who stays,
to boy who is home.

Boy who is not brother,
but through him
love is shown.

Sunny Sidle Up

Husband comes up to me
Tuesday afternoon,
briefcase dropping on the tile,
arms locked around my waist from behind.
Kisses nape of my neck,
beard brushes against the top of my spine,
flowers budding between vertebrae,
hitch in breathing,
sizzling of bacon,
flash in pan.
Low chuckle rumbling like
approaching train,
railroad track back.
Fixes fingers into ridges of my hip bones,
makes me rise on tiptoe,
God, I want to make a pit stop—
timer goes off.
There’s a growl caught in your throat,
somehow I choke out, “Breakfast”
and you say, “No”
with your leg pressed between two of mine,
fumbling fingers turning off the stove.
Lit up like LA strip,
I try “dinner”
but the way it spills off my tongue
coincides with my apron falling to the floor.
I always thought you liked frills,
as you unzip the back of my dress with stinging fingers
that leave marks on my flesh,
You’re in a hurry today,
pull my frame into your body,
slip my strap off your shoulder,
Oh, wait. Those frills.
Bite into the flesh underneath,
and I can’t breathe,
I can’t breathe,
I can’t breathe,
so you spin us around,
and I’m somehow on the counter,
and my dress is falling down my waist,
as your hands make their way into my hair
and I kick myself free of all fabric
that stops my legs from wrapping around you
as lips crush against lips,
like my body molding to yours,
sticker and sweat,
falling into bed,
saying you love how the light hits me,
saying I never looked so pretty,

you know you’re only dreaming, right?
‘cause God knows
you can’t cook to save your life.”

3 Strikes; I’m Out of Luck

It is the third
for two more minutes
and it is no longer lucky.

It is the way I asked you to be mine
over telephone lines
and now I don’t even have your number.

It is the way you kissed me in a drizzle,
made me feel some kind of special,
and pushed your heart too hard, too fast
to where you couldn’t breathe with me beside you.

It is the way I didn’t ask you on a date,
but I sat shaking in my seat, watching you,
watching me, thinking,
knowing nothing could come of it anyway,
sober or sex free.

It is the month you drove
back and forth down a random street,
waiting for me like a beacon,
like a phantom,
staring at each other like “action”
Until the next day when I woke up and thought
“Did that really happen?”

It is the fourth,
and three minutes.
It has always been my favorite number,
but it has never been lucky
for me.