the days like empty confessions

and if i say [i]november[/i]
maybe you picture a grey sky
hung low over darker hills
and maybe this time you’re right

and what if all i have to offer
are these carefully chosen words in
a world full of the sick and
the butchered?

there are worse things than
hearing you are no longer loved

there are reasons men give
for raping their daughters but
none of them matter

and i am tired of being damned
by the fools who want to
force god’s cancerous weight
between my ribs

i’m sorry for tyranny and for
the ignorance that leads to hatred
but i am not the cause or
the cure

this is what i
want my son to understand when
we no longer speak to
each other

it’s what i never understood
about my own father

a coward
is not necessarily a

a starving dog in the right hands
is a weapon

left alone it will only die
or devour the world

voice of the burning girl

we are not old
or dying
but afraid

we are the voice
of the burning girl
after she has dissolved
into nothing but
faded cloth wrapped
tight around old bones

and as the wind finds
all of the holes
in this house
we turn to each other
for warmth

we compare faces
and names
and whether or not
your sister will come live
with us when she finally
pulls herself from
the tar her life
has become

and the killer is free

the trunk of his car
and waiting
and the baby asleep

one of us will have to
be the first
to break his heart

the poet confesses

your child is dying
in some version of america
i never wanted to know

the poem slips into my blood
at five in the morning
without a sound

we were closer to
something beautiful at one point
i think

were alive in a different way
that couldn’t last
and my voice gets too loud here

my son is asleep in the next room
the kitten curled up on his pillow
and the edges of this day
have begun to drag themselves
out of the darkness

what i wanted
wasn’t to be someone else
but maybe someone

not a priest
but a conquistador

a phoenix

and i am tired of feeling
gravity’s pull and i am crawling
towards the year of

belief in nothing is still
but april refuses to see this

what grows between us
becomes something more complex
than war

approaching the age of christ

this will be my year

blood and famine
and small crucifixions
and there is nothing i can do
to stop any of it

the shadows of birds
the walls of this room

the names of the dead
written on tiny scraps of paper

buried by the water’s edge
but nothing grows and
nothing grows and
nothing grows

and it’s october
and the wind cries all night

tears your face from my mind
and then it’s november

the missing girl turns

her parents walk away
from their religion

let the flowers
fall from their hands and
gather up whatever bones
they can and i have no
words of comfort

i have prayers
but no god

that the sounds are made
at all
is the important thing

swimming through the blood of history

and i am tired of reading
all of these words i wrote as if
i thought i might actually
know something

i am tired
of these empty notebooks
like mute accusations

if you were in this room
right now
you would smell desperation

would feel a small cool breeze as
the storm pushes its way north

picture it

three years in this house
and i know none of my neighbors

ten years in this town
and i refuse to call it home

and did i pray
at my father’s bedside
in the last days before his death?


and does this
make me a bad person?

i’ve been told that it does

and there is a man
who returns what i send him with
a note that says
“these are not poems”
and there is the possibility that
he’s right

there are my hands
crippled with self-doubt

burned and then healed
and then burned again until
they refuse to acknowledge the
simple pain of passing days

and if i don’t call myself
an artist
then i can’t be crucified
as a witch

the logic is subtle
but it’s there

think of war

this is the ghost

this is the hand that
cuts the moon
in two

this is the ghost

do you
remember these myths
or are you someone who
believes in the soft
sweet purity of

you can only be one
or the other

you can only be living
or dead

for fifteen years
i had the dream of the
burning house
and then i married
the woman who
grew up in it

i give you this as
final proof
of the lack of god and
you turn away

one of us sees
the ghost
the other a shadow

in between the two is
the desert of our pasts
and the scattered ashes
of old lovers

this is the land
the myths were planted

these are
the bones of lost

there are better things
to be built here
than religion

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