Between Things

Alone is the moment when
you lie diagonally across
your queen-sized bed,
the first big purchase
in your adult life.

You sleep behind a shoji screen
in a makeshift bedroom carved from
a living room in a graystone apartment
that you share with two housemates.

Your internship ended, and you
didn’t go home. Now, you’re temping,
and then comes your very shitty
first real job.

You have bought yourself
a box turtle, a lizard,
and two tree frogs so

you’ll have someone to take care of.
Everything else dies, but the turtle
is a survivor. A year from now, your
boyfriend will move here, you’ll both
move to the other side of town.

Two years from now, you’ll get married.
He’ll love your turtle, too, make ramps
for him all around the room while
you’re at work, at your second,
and much less shitty job.

But for now, you are alone.
You are with people (and a turtle),
but you are alone. You are 24 years old,
and really, you slept better on
your friend’s couch, when you were

still between things, trying to make a plan.

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For the PAD Challenge, Day 23. Prompt: an alone poem.

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Release the Hounds

from their eternal
houndage.

Who wants to
slink around junkyards
and into the woods

if there are other ways
to be a good boy or good girl?

Who loves the scent of blood,
shoe leather, fingernails?

Release the hounds,
and they will laze on couches,
chase rabbits — not men,
not dead women and children —
while they sleep. Forever?
For dog years?

At least until
a scent drifts in,
like ringing a doorbell,
or a call on the red phone:
Hello, hound.

You are a hound forever;
you can never be released.

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For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 22. Prompt: a release poem.

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East Is an Easy Direction

Unless you go too far
in your catamaran
and fall off

the face of the earth,
drifting like a balloon,
a star, a star-shaped balloon.
You never meant to disprove

a theory that makes the world
go round. You never meant to
take us back to the Dark Ages,
when we feared dragons and

edges, all the perils
that await us when we
push off from shore.

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For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 21. Prompt: Write about a direction on the compass.

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Way Back Then

But don’t follow me, darling;
I’m not going where you need to go.
This bus doesn’t stop on freeway
overpasses. This bus barrels through
the night until it reaches its
final destination, comes to a stop,
is explored by voracious crabs
and enterprising sea birds. Don’t
follow me unless you want to come
to ruin on some stinking shore,
the least picturesque beach
in America, as declared by
Readers Digest, in some foxed
issue I found in the garbage
behind a doctor’s office,
back when I was a scavenger.
Back and back and way back then.

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And with that, I’m all caught up. This was for the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 14. Prompt: a “follow” poem.

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Holy Hegemony, Batman

That’s what I might have said
in 1989 (which, as we all know,
is the year that, somewhere else,
Taylor Swift was busy being born),
even though I didn’t know what
hegemony meant and, OK, since
we’re telling truths here, I’d
need to Google it today if I
wanted to front like I knew it
all along, its full meaning,
anything other than a vague
notion of its sense. But I
trafficked in vague notions
then, in 1989, of myself and
of the world, of what it was
that I wanted, the possible
futures I saw in the window
over the couch as I looked
at my reflection and sang
to myself so I could know if
I was any good at singing.

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Catching up. For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 15. Prompt: “Holy _______”

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I Am No Different

But someone like me always says
there’s no explanation for any of it,
nothing owed to us and nothing to be
expected, that life is a random bag
of facts and occurrences, many of them
ugly and completely unjust, because
there is no justice, no traffic cop.
Sometimes I really hate myself.
Sometimes I sound so smug, so much
like others of my type, the clich├ęs
tumbling out of my mouth before I can
call them back. The truth is, we all
think in stereotypes and patterns.
I am no different. Neither are you.

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Catching up. Last one for tonight. PAD Challenge, Day 16. Prompt: an explanation.

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What I Remembered While I Was Forgetting Something Else

Today, I remembered
that the kids in my high school
used to play a card game
called Egyptian Rat Fuck.
The name popped into my head
while I was trying to remember
something else, though now
I forget what that was, and it seems
like there have been other times
just like this, though now I forget
what I remembered while I was
forgetting something else.
The net unravels even as
I patch it. It catches only
the least relevant fish, bony
and inedible, ridiculous. I didn’t
even intend to go fishing; I’m just
holding this net and need something
to occupy my hands while I try to
remember what I came here to do.

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Catching up. PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 17. Prompt: an afflicted poem.

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