when there is nothing left to write on, utilize all that skin.

Mobile wafts against window and wall paint and whatever happened to looseleaf notebooks.

Use the other side of that paper or don’t you have any old receipts in your wallet or what about the blank spots on currency. Write on that, why don’t you.

Oh, I have a marker; you may write on this mug; it is empty.

How about this napkin or tissue–it is thick enough.

I am going to need you to use an index card. How about a post-it.

There is plenty of room on the back of this photograph. Or this envelope.

All of my walls are free. How about that building. Count the windows; they are bare too.

There is extra wood on the side of my house, use that.

I’ll take off my shoe; use my soul sole.

I can peel these crayons; use the wrappers. Or gum or…or…this newspaper. There are gaps without words.

All those steps are empty. What about this bench.

Can you…can you…hold on…I’ve got this guitar. Write on that.

How about this map. How about my hat.

I’ve got this t-shirt; it is empty. I’ll unfold my pockets and give you that.

A flower petal: just be soft. A feather: just be patient. You write small: how about this strand of hair.

Oh, can you…can you think about this tire wheel. Too dark? Countertop. Door. Linoleum. Look at all those squares.

Just…just…just wait. Because that won’t wash off. And I think you are bleeding now. And I wish you would have waited. I can…I can buy you some more paper. I can…I can find you some more trees to climb your words into.

I can listen. Use my earlobes. Use my pupils as a flashlight to follow.

Can you…can you just…listen to a song.

My body is a speakerbox…let me just turn it on…here, let me play Tallest Man on Earth.

Just…follow my teeth. Or, I can whistle you away from all that.

I’ll steal a cloud. You can use that instead.

Or an airplane wing or…or…I wish you’d…I wish you’d stop.

I thought you stopped.

Really, paper is everywhere. We won’t run out. I can make more.

Put your body away. Wipe it back into something tempered.

Stay away from mirrors for awhile. Put her photograph away. I’ll kiss you until you forget.

Let’s wander into wilderness. Find percussion in tree stumps.

I’ve got this. I’ve got you. Come on now.


How hard is it to admit we have “something”?

My second toe beside the widest one is longer than the others. Should I admit this and to whom?

For those who view my nudity for the first time, should I give them a heads up on my body hair? Perhaps a map to guide them where to find each part intentionally hidden.

I (used to) have a drug problem that is in remission now. Should I mention this too?

I stole a few times and can fill an entire auditorium with my lies. Should I announce this?

My favorite food used to be fruit-roll-ups. Do you really need to know this?

When I was two weeks past sixteen years old, birthday balloons still floating to the top of my childhood bedroom, I tried to kill myself (not the first time, nor the last).

At that time, I was not aware that sadness was a disease because it is not always visible on people like rosacea, trichotillomania or genital warts.

I look around at all the scars around me, on others, on my limbs, scars we gargle with, scars we balance on, scars we use as floatation devices, scars we shape into SOS messages.

If we could connect all these scars like a rope leading us away from the ghosts, perhaps we’d find a way out of this pain. And it is pain.

How to show mental pain. If it is not visible, you must be lying or crazy and are(n’t) they the same.

I have secrets. You think you know my secrets but I’ve got some more hiding behind the ones you think you know. I’m going to laminate each one into a trading card and see how many matches I can make. Show me what you’ve got.

I need to dig my eyes into other parts of this earth to find the ones who look more like me. Not like redhead me. Not like homo me. Not like agnostic leaning toward atheist me. Not like someone to compare my cellulite with or even the odd moles or beauty marks that have yet to be categorized. Not someone to tell me how worse off their childhood was/is.

I’m just searching for my scar sisters/brothers/humans. And we are going to have to talk about it because the scariest ones are those that cannot be seen.

I think I have an illness. It isn’t visible. I have no sores; my hair isn’t thinning; and although my appetite fluctuates, it’s unrelated.

I do not believe it is contagious, just cellular.

Let’s start talking about it more. Stretch out maps to include the paths that are too small to notice (or take). I’m reaching out.

excerpts from a window peering through a life

In what year did they begin fire drills? Heads and knees tucked to chest to prep for bombs. I am not united in this front of skin and veins. I think back to those years where we were forced out of class due to called-in bomb threat or preparation for an inferno of flames to melt away the school. Why don’t families have drills like this? Or bodies? Before the cancer or depression or heart attack or mini-stroke, how about a drill?

Andy Flemming throws a three-piece dissected bee at me in science class. I am twelve. He calls me a screen door and I watch the severed insect slide down my paved chest. My three best friends at the time have elevated breasts, regular periods and body hair. They prefer tampons to pads and waxing to razors. Two out of three have already been menstruating for two years. There are no bras in my wardrobe; I wear undershirts. If it weren’t for my nipples, I’d have no idea where my breasts are.

My belly lies against red cotton sheets with limited thread count. I am crying. My fingers smell like my insides. A salt and vinegar soak. I am desperate for an orgasm, instead, my brain channels memories inappropriate for masturbation. How sad to be inside a body that can never be clean enough.

photo by June Liu

countdown toward finalities

file fingertips into sterling silver points

serrated like bread knife, hungry to cut away at words in need of further diagnosis.

work toward revision
enter the poem with questions

photo by Francesca Woodman

don’t make the reader feel dizzy

searched urgency

supper with sadness
press into carbon and oxygen and choke.

[NOTE: Imagine a word with limbs, long enough to be pulled or bent. Imagine a word with pre-determined illness or allergy. The metalanguage conceived in the spread out stanzas or found in the tightly-packed prose poems or couplets can be viewed as odors. A smell takes shape when rubbed against or mixed with the container in which it starts from: food, human, bottle.

think of poems as suicide letters
desperate medications

To exit: how it feels to be entrenched in these poems, write the pain of it, the journey, trauma, translated hurt-songs, scar chants.

{how to} walk off a stage or poem and be normal.

strap magnifying lenses against pupils/ detect hidden fibers defining each line

Get it before she dies and no clarity can be given.

Look away. Diagnose. Crush pills onto tongue repeat daily. Quiet the crazy creative emotive.

How sad to be inside a body that can never be clean enough

Practice the angular motion of disintegration

uniqueness derives from in-
ability to
see all

Notice a tree.
Write about it.

Its bark is infected like homeless mother’s limbs with skin weathered from winter and bed bugs.

Go outside.
Write about it.

I stare at an open field and search for the bodies held captive by tall wheat or poison ivy.

Visit amusement park for children called zoo.
Write about it.

I see an elephant and describe its skin as heated crust. I count each fracture disrupting the smooth. I call it monster call it mammal of wild grey call it me in the evening when enough bodies have rubbed against me to feel bloated and heavy, a swell of weight.

What happens to the spread of body, torn apart to make a statement?

Bones, carefully grown tissue formed by osteoblasts, or specialized cells, contain salt and strength, though not enough to fight away the sadness or sense of not enough. The similarities in these excerpts arise in desperation. We must destroy self or space around us in order to make a statement.


. . ………What cannot feel can still feel.