The Things I've Done For Girls

I pretended to know
the verses to Christmas
carols for a chance
to see a Mormon
girl’s underwear,
or maybe to give
her something
(a not so Silent Night)
to confess the next week.

she was wrapped up
tight, in layers,
her young legs
trampolining under
blankets and towels
in an effort to feel
better about herself,
even if only for a year

while we were
crouched, hidden,
behind a hotel
bathroom door
in a receiving position
while the marching band
director searched the room.

The next
must have had a thing
for unimpressive oil
paintings; we made
out on a park bench
for at least an hour,
repeated gestures
back and forth
in an effort to make me
feel better about her.
I left her sitting there,
a hard candy in her mouth —
so pretty, that little pink oyster.


Winning a year’s worth
of pizza, I would celebrate
by filling the vacant face
of an electrical outlet
with the tail
of my blow-dryer
and going for a swim.

You don’t understand:
I have skinned fetal pigs,
cut the tail off a cat
(it was already dead, but still);
I’ve tied Barbies
to the branches
of a willow tree,
their plastic legs like
a diver’s, kicking air.

I could’ve been
a successful
serial killer.
Not to say I can’t still be,
but I might be past
my prime.

Shopping List

Standing in the checkout line,
I cheated on my wife
with a woman in a wig.
She towered above me,
luminously powdered
lavender, her nose
softly crooked;
a sort-of living
version of Sargent’s
Madame X.

I was buying socks
with piano keys
and bowling alleys,
when my father asked me
to ask my mother
the name of a cat
they once had.

Chopping vegetables
for a salad, I stare
into the cavity
of an olive, and
I imagine the nameless
cat decaying,
its eyes like dried
blueberries sitting
in its skull.


Blonde goddess on public transportation,
I would bow to you in an instant —
touch my knees to this dirty floor
in recognition of the half-moons
of your fingernails.
I am training
my eye to find beauty
in landfills, empty swimming pools,
the underbellies of cars,
and the gaping sockets in gums.
Around my heart is a lock
made of paper, and it is
beginning to smolder
and throw sparks;
it is talking to the pilot light
on my oven, and I come home
every night
to find my house
burned down.



We are made in the dark,
swimming, growing nauseatingly
slow. It is not worth
it. Everyone had a terrible childhood.
How do you deal with such bigness
in such a small space?
How do you tell a child they will
never see their friends again
in a way they understand?
You sit up front,
and turn up the rising
percussion against their gasping,
ragged breaths.

Now, she is playing a piano
big enough for a blue whale,
and the music makes you want
to cry
until the color is gone from your eyes.

He is holding his guitar
in the same way he would wrestle
a baby alligator.
You want to be his amp,
screaming, receiving
It makes you
want to cover yourself
in tattoos
and never worry
about wearing a wedding dress.

One night, you feel
a shifting within.
Things cannot be compared
and you delicately wrap
a brown leather belt around
your neck,
and listen to the sound
of a truck backing up outside,
bleating like a large tropical bird.

How To Develop Photos

Step one:
Close the door behind you,
and turn off all the lights.
Begin sweating, and hearing
things that are probably
motions of a serial killer,
waiting, somehow seeing.
Think of your mother and what she is
doing right now; the way she says
the word “pillow”; the large
cardboard dollhouse she made you
when you contracted chickenpox.
Think about the way your cat looks
like a fat, striped egg
when she tucks her paws underneath.

Step two:
Begin developing -
you should already have mixed
the chemicals and have them ready.
You can turn on the lights now,
and begin cursing
as you spill fixer on your
new grey peacoat and remember
that the girl you are completely
obsessed with hasn’t looked at you
recently. Decide not to eat lunch
today, afterall.

Step three:
After washing the negatives for ten minutes,
unroll them from the spool
and see that they are completely
blank -
as vacuous as the face
of your ex-lover when you told them
this time,
you were really leaving.

Lovesong with A Hairshirt

While the cat licks my hands
as if they are an extension
of her own small body
(her love is critical and harsh),

you eye your watch,
wondering how many
more years
you have to stay with me
before they won’t call you
a quitter.

You laugh with the babysitter,
hand her a small check.
I can sense warmth radiating
off of her, like a package
fresh off the postal truck
in the summer.
I admire her pale hinges,
silent muscles,
secret organs.

I want to have daughters
wrapped up in church
dresses, bound with
large ribbons. I want
to attend
their pizza parties
and see the red lipstick
on the muzzles of their teachers.

Two deer are in the median
on the way home,
with metal between them
and their fleecy dens,
in a place they were
never supposed to be.
To think, there are places
we couldn’t reach if we tried.


I look through the bottom of my glass,
through the crescent of water,
at the girls with the legs
of newborn thoroughbreds.
I will never see them naked.
Tan, thinly-muscled stems
trotting them home, wrapping around
the waist of some man.

Tonight will be a night of loss.
You used to ask me if I would ever leave
you, and I would tell you,
no, not until you are done with me.

I hid my hand in your hair,
a mourning dove in its nest,
and thought about being
cut loose -
a balloon, rising until
I became only a pinpoint
of color that made your eyes water
to look for.