4.09 / September 2009

Wondering about the cancellation penalty on my cell phone contract

You call again because the beer didn’t work and the pills didn’t work and neither did the water syringe or the hanger. You call because now you have a twelve-year-old girl who is 4’10″ and 75 pounds and can’t speak. I sit in my chair, the one with the high back and the hunter green upholstery and I think about 5-bean soup. It’s warm and thick and salty. You call because the child who can’t speak can bite and punch and does bite and punch until both of you are purple and yellow and wet. I think about reheating my soup but if I put it in a saucepan it will bubble at the edges and burn at the bottom because sometimes when you call I forget about soup. You call again because the child’s father is cleaning another pool and having his skin checked at the dermatologist and talking to his son’s probation officer because his son, who is nineteen, also bites and punches. I remember when that boy used to sing but that was before the bleeding cross tattoo and the restraining order and the line of safety pins piercing his left cheek, before he was returned to his mother, the heroine addict, who isn’t you. And I take your call because I remember you holding that boy and reading Are You My Mother? It’s OK if my soup burns. And so you call again because the silent child, your daughter, is shitting herself in school and she won’t sit still long enough for the ambulatory EEG to be attached to her scalp and the neurologist says he’s done with your case. I wonder how he can do that, just let you go. But then you tell me about how you found his car in the “Doctor’s Only” section of the parking lot and smashed the headlights of his Infiniti with your tire iron. So I guess the neurologist really is done.

Waiting for the rise

I grind wheat. Whole kernels, hard, brown. They can be milled.

I lose batteries, toilet paper, canned peaches, my bearings, a dishwasher load of cereal bowls and spoons. They are tucked under my son’s bed, behind his DVD’s, next to the toothpaste in the white metal cabinet.

I mix flour with warm water, yeast, sometimes an egg. I bend and fold the dough into itself. I cover the bowl and wait for the rise.

I see snot on the walls, panties on the floor, large white pills in jean pockets, under couch cushions, in kitchen drawers, under cello music. And this is before I start looking.

I dust the board, punch and kneed, sprinkle flour, kneed, cover and wait for the rise.

I find digital pornography, paper pornography, the perimeter of my illusion, small orange pills, grow lights, knives, my bank card, forged checks, the appointment card for his therapist, the phone number for Lewis Gale Center for Behavioral Health, a recorded message from the Christiansburg Police Department.

I preheat, slide in, and bake.

Listening to Stanley Kunitz read on his birthday

Uncooperative tongue.


through clicking teeth.

The words
still clear.

Touch me, remind me

who I am.

Two more poems,

one more,
one more.

Stay is a better word

than leave.

Two more.

One hundred candles,

one hundred more.