Laisse-Moi Tranquille



Each night I rinse the truck

in the depot off Meserole.


I nod to the other drivers, tuck

my braid in the back of my shirt.


A rat floats through the oil.

Shoe-trees of metal


line the edge of the iris.

Knowing you will love me


almost kills me.

Shipstation, mill whistle:


It’s the glossy icebox

I can’t breathe inside.


* * *


Still Life with Fallen Candles


The chef on the street is butchering something.  Light from the cutlery

glints against his skin, like the pink triangles in a kaleidoscope.

Before the ghost market was a ghost market,

it was a way to suspend reality: before the sun was in the sky

it was a bright lozenge rotating in my rib-cage.

Flowers are over-used in poems but that doesn’t change the fact

that they exist, all along the spillery, glimmering

like a miniature solar system. Before it was rape,

it was just a train, barreling down the track, slicing the image of the flowers

in half. Before it was a man, it was a storm, and before that,

it was my father’s voice from outside the womb

yelling at my mother, or the scream of brakes of the car

that nearly killed her, and me, inside.

Before it was a vessel, it was just a boat.

I hear it before I see it: the long slow whistle

tugging upriver, closer and closer, to carry you away.


* * *


Tusk / River



I run my hand down his back, curved and smooth

as a tusk.  I think of my deranged brother. I think of the rain


that lifted the river to a new height, that year the water

broke the glass, flushing out the only restaurant in town.


There is still so much I don’t understand, like why men like

sex so much, why they think cumming is some sort of


accomplishment.  I want to make it through one day

without wanting to die.  I want to be the river


that rises and rises, and moves through the streets

like the hand of God, God who has no jealousy, no fear.



* * * 


Love Letter to Future



Loving you was like sucking cola through a straw. It made me sick

about all the other girls.  Still,

when I named you God, the world became more manageable.


You dressed like a cleric from the sixteenth

century: a single gold chain hung

over your heart.  Outside, sky the color of milk,


rush of water through the bronze pipes in the garden.

Most nights we didn’t have sex, just lounged

around free-styling.  And when you got angry,


I laughed, and when you stomped around like a little boy I could see

how happy you were, how happy you were

compared to me.


* * *




It is warm below deck; the bells hurt your ears;

your breath makes the shape of a heart on the window.


You drove here alone, seven hours in a seething rain,

stopping at the border only to buy coffee


and a bag of Doritos.  Above deck, your cousins

and second-cousins acknowledge one another politely


before turning back to their books. You heard

them earlier, gossiping on the dock


like hungry dogs, wanting to know about you,

about the hospital.  In this fog you can’t see the islands:


they float past like strangers.  Or you float

past them, glowing, one hand to the glass.