Putnam’s Arms

Clay in the soil

keeps the rain

so that when it storms

little ponds pop up

in every pock mark

 

It is Summer

There is a shower every day

Frogs hold soirees in the evening

Their love a chorus

carried 360° around our home

In the morning

there will be jellied eggs

like wet chia seed clumps

floating in the puddles

 

On the lake

I see a swimmer

when I take my morning walks

She swims the length

of Melrose Bay and back

I would surely die of heart failure

from fear of giant gators

But she swims dutifully

with cap and goggles

and has yet to be eaten alive

 

Afternoons are filled with art

and music in the park

Kids collecting tadpoles

discovering treasure troves of Melrose Rocks

Everyone visiting

because everyone knows everyone

and there are stories to be told

 

The sun sets

in pink and blue ribbons

at the end of the hidden boardwalk

There, the dock has a view

worth battling ticks, spiders, and mosquitos for

It is where we hiked as newlyweds

to celebrate each other with an ale

It is where my parents

take out-of-town guests

when they want to show off

the serene beauty of their bay

It is a spot only the locals know exists

 

The path is muddied

because it keeps the rains

like so many bodies of water

cradled by the arms

of our winsome county

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Drowning

Turn up the radio

to occupy my mind

while my hands

scrub, sweep, bake, diaper

wipe up another spill

 

This sad, sad song

builds a lump in my throat

takes me like a fever

sing along off-key manically

gasping for air

as words catch in my mouth

 

My body remembers freedom

long lazy days of passion

partners in a young paradise

addicted to adventure

focused on what you feel

 

My eyes see clutter spilling over

my soul is drowning

in dirty dishes and shit-stained laundry

suffocating on cat hair and dust bunnies

I watch the hours of my youth tick away

while I drive carpool

and march single file

in the endless drill of the grocery line

 

I had technicolor dreams

the road map to get me there

but now I work 24-7 at a thankless job

while student loan debt roils

in my rearview mirror

and my degree putrefies

filling my nose like the trash

I should have taken out yesterday

 

My husband can sell his soul

to keep the bills paid

kill his time with video games

sleep on the guest bed

sell his soul to keep bills paid

kill time with video games

sleep on the sofa

sell his soul

with video games

and almost never

sleep with me

 

I’ll just turn up the radio

let sad songs drown me

and dirty dishes bury me

choke to death on dust

they’ll discover my body

when they get hungry

Lessons from My Father

You taught me to drive

on a 3-speed stick-shift V-8 pick-up, no less

You taught me to appreciate

coffee and early morning quiet

and the importance of trust

You taught me patience and kindness

All of these lessons that have shaped me

 

You’re still my super hero

the way a dad should be

You don’t have to save the world

you hang clotheslines

and your granddaughter’s swings

Your super power is always being there

whenever I’ve needed you

 

You left on your bike every morning

but came home for every dinner

You never missed a big event

or a small victory

Your consistency was a priceless gift

that only now I can fully appreciate

 

I know now what strength patience requires

I know now the inability of strong arms

to protect a little girls from scraped knees

How a heart can break in proxy

when she loses a much-loved pet

I know the uselessness of prayers

to protect from the ever-ticking hands of Father Time

 

When I hold my girls through their tears

I remember you holding me

in your lap in the pink rocker

so many times

I remember encouraging words

and listening ears

when I was in doubt

I try to be the parent you were

when I’m at the end of my rope

 

You are the person who taught me

what unconditional love and acceptance feel like

For every lesson, I am thankful

Titanic

are you an iceberg

or just a cold man

floating in the cocktail

that was once my bubbling life

watering me down as you melt

a sad little puddle of anger and delusion

a snowflake that thinks it’s granite

a drop of water that forgot it is the ocean

 

I am the Titanic

and whether or not you are deeper than you appear to be

I am bound to sink

for I thought myself unstoppable

too big to be undone

turns out I’m just as full of hot air pockets as you

each filling with ice water

the cold is becoming unbearable

 

I used to be a flame you worshipped

drawn like a moth

’til you were close enough

for me to melt your skin

tough-guy candy shell coating

crackling between my teeth

I used to chew boys up and spit them out

like cheap chewing gum

you stick to the roof of my mouth

I gag and gag

but have no way of expelling you from my life

 

for you have me tethered to an anchor

(payback for all those Bubble-gum-boy’s hearts)

trapped by the enormous weight of my love

the bird-like rib cages of three small sisters

cage me like a criminal

behind the walls of my own home

 

and if all these walls could speak

would they spill my shame like a river

rolling over everything

bursting pipes

burdening septic systems

until sewage seeps up from the front lawn

so the neighbors can smell the lies behind the smiles

 

and you, an iceberg in the mudslide

pulling me under

battered by the debris that was my life

head barely above the surface

sinking

sinking

drowning

sinking

drowning

sinking…

if I could tell you all of me

through the tears I cry

spilling my love over my smiling, laughing lips

slipping into yours

 

emotions too strong to grasp

cannot be contained

I try to tell in half-sentence babble

love I cannot yet explain

my heart is full

with words too beautiful for speech

 

I could cry into your chest

the story of my soul

sing it to the beat of your heart

I could dream you a vision of me

where words are left unspoken

hoping you can see

Bob Dylan on a Cold Couch

My fingers learn to do yoga.
They callous at the tips, and I
cannot feel you nearly as well.

Dylan learned to play guitar before
I was born. Had I been in 1950,
I would have run away from home.

Your banjo sings to my skin.
Goose-pimples are like snow-capped peaks
And your song skis my shoulders.

I sing in the car, and the shower,
and crossed-legged on your cold couch.
You prepare breakfast and green tea.

Sometimes fingers dance until
they are broken. Dylan didn’t want
to talk about that, either.

Dawn wakes us in the morning.
I laugh at everything now.
Let us perform on a small stage!

Empty Sucker

You fucking sucker
Motherfucker
Lying
thieving
cheating
home-wrecker
Loveless
soulless
druggy shithead
Shoot-up
fuck-up
lifeless meathead
Care less about
your kid
than you did
about your fix
Care more about
yourself
than anything else
Use up
eat up
drink up
fuck up
take up
more space than you’re worth
Empty smile
empty heart
empty promises
empty bed
Fill your fucking veins with junk
Empty soul
and a body full of toxin
Empty the trash
and you in it
Empty sucker
Motherfucker
You made me
hurt like this

bones

You dig at my door
wearing nail marks in my frame
and hand prints in my handles
Your begging voice through walls
whines and moans
grating my ears with why won’ts

You know why
You were there when I jaded
You plead with eyes
that are sunken
dark and unseeing
unseen in the dark
The porch is cold
even the puppy door is closed

Behind the walls
bones on mine
skin stretched against them
sliding on sweat lubricant

Remember nights where I
hung ’round your step
scratching at the door
rubbing against the poles
My mark was left
But not the nails that dig your back
Now she’s jumping in your arms
she may break your neck
but she’s something I am not

Delicate.

But not the nails that dig your back
or teeth that tear your throat
She’s not the one who is on top
She’s not the one who drags you home

She yowls to the moon
between the leaves above the lawn
Pacing circles in our crab grass
Making face-prints on the windows
Impossible blonde-blue eyes
She pleads in Hellish tones

But inside
bones on mine
skin stretched against them
sliding on sweat lubricant

Energy Between Us

energy between us
swells and crashes
live-wire strung lips
poised, soft-wet
tongues entangle
fingertips to faces
palms cradle dizzy heads
butterfly eyelids flutter-close

eager hands explore
quest soft places
map trails of our passion
snaking up under clothes
straps slip from shoulders
pants from hips
bare bodies fall into bed

trunks flush
limbs intertwine
you grow, I blossom
sweet welcome
whispered names
petals parting
entering with a gasp

drum-beat rhythmic
catch-release dance
hips arc to meet
hold deep
hot breath quickens
opera of moans
symphony of climax
trembling into other worlds

energy between us
magnetic fingertips
tracing magic contours
sweat-wet skin
salty under parted lips
whispering promises
starry eyes hold each other
sigh to still
and I welcome the weight of you

Gods of Saturday Night

I wake
too early for a Sunday
mind still buzzing
memory of a kiss between my thighs
still aching, pulsing
I can almost feel your body
still pressed against mine
almost feel your hands
and your fingers…

I love your fingers
Just one fingertip
I lose my words
lose my mind
tongue-tied
heavy eyes
ragged breath
wet and wriggling
beneath your touch
and your mouth…

I love your mouth
manipulating my body
manipulating my mind
your tongue lights fires
but you don’t leave scars
you leave memories
smoldering in me
body begging for more
just one more taste
just one more time.

Your lips kissed shivers
sprawling to my toes
I close my eyes and try
to recapture the night

You say there are rubies in my fingertips
and perfection in my pussy
and with your words and lips
you rewrite the map of my erogeny

You say one day at a time
I fear to look into the future
I didn’t see this coming
I don’t know where it’s going

Moving blissfully moment to moment
if a moment is all we can count on
let’s not keep count
just enjoy

I wake
too early for a Sunday morning
memories
buzzing in my mind
wearing your shirt
the scent of your body
clinging like a ghost
I bury my face into it
praying to the Gods
of Saturday nights.