Ice blonde girls with dark gold tans,
I watch them burn their flesh outside on the beach.
My own skin bleached white and chilled cold,
This snow that covers up my imperfections.
They are fashion devotees,
With their perfectly placed hairdos, swing back heels,
And blush mauve lipstick that is all the rage.
My own lips swollen and stained red, they stare at me.
Wishing secretly that they had this color.
If only they knew that this stain did not come
from a silver plated Lancome tube.
If only they saw me suckling open wounds, bleeding cuts from where
his fist and belt hit.
Down in the basement.
After he explains in his smooth, quiet voice
That my imperfections are not veiled to him by the snow.
He asks me why I do not bleach my hair, why I do not have breasts
or read Cosmopolitan.
He tells me that my hair is too dark, skin too pale, eyes too alive.
But I feel dead.
Thin girl with red lips. Long, jutting bones with knotted elbows
I'm unhealthy. I haven't seen the sun
In 13 years.
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This scar runs down my chest, a viny path ripped
fleshy memory of pain.
They are uneven now.
The right one is beautiful, a testament to the power of our creator.
I hold it in my hand, feeling the weight of it in my palm, the
smoothness of its flesh covering,
The rouge health of an erect nipple.
The other is a plane, not flat but uneven flesh.
I am disgusted by it, afraid to look at it, fearful to touch it that it
Torn from my chest, diseased and inhuman.
Now a scar is its memory, a permanent etch of my loss.
Doctors say that it can be fixed.
That they can insert something man-made under the flesh
Make it acceptable to this symmetrical society.
I joke to them to cut the other one out
And they laugh nervously, fearful that I am serious.
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Picasso was a master
You recite his words in your scratchy voice
I paint what I feel, not what I see.
Defenseless to this intensity.
Sad that I write poetry about dirty art boys
And their love of the female form.
My body rules my mind in these situations.
You ask me to describe love
But I refuse to give in
You sit under your desk mumbling
Against my own stability.
I am too clean
No smoke seeds in these lungs
No liquor burns my belly.
I am open to unhealthy measures.
Art Boy #13
He wears his hair platinum
A spiked perfection
He paints his finest hour
Every day before noon.
A paint brush twitches from his lip
With the coolness of a cigarette
His roommate paints beside him
The sarcastic / quick-wit / dark-haired beauty
All the girls would paint red for him
But I am drawn to the imperfection
The simplicity of this blonde hued boy.
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I cannot listen to him
Without entertaining that familiar itch
But thinking too hard makes this pressure
Burn behind my eyes.
He is a master
He uses words like ameliorate and juxtaposition
In everyday conversation
A friend of mine calls him Sean Connery
But he is too thin for that.
He reminds me instead of the emaciated
Jesus Christ of the Renaissance
Appearing on slide after slide
While he gives his eloquent disclaimers.
I want to know him
What he thinks when he looks in the mirror,
What god he worships and what reverences he murmurs
To himself in his sleep.
I will flatter myself to think that this is not a schoolgirl crush.
No names in hearts together, no perfumed love letters,
Instead sketches and line drawings of his weathered face.
He would be jealous, for he never was an artist
I imagine he wished for it daily,
Surrounding himself with those imitators of life
Playing with their art toys and tripping on LSD
Making the same smart-ass jokes
And still no one gets the punch line.
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The First Prayer
Last night I made love to Jesus.
Like all good Christian girls,
I gave in completely.
With bony white knuckles tight
Fingers wrapped with the beaded impression
Of the polished pink soapstone rosary.
It is His favorite on Wednesday nights.
Knees rubbed into raw flesh,
Pained from the position He likes.
I have bled for Him, shown Him my grief
The rougher the better.
This is the only way to reach the higher plane.
I have kept myself pure for martyrdom,
Bathed in the holy water from the shiniest chalice,
Bowed to the white-collared males.
In the name of the Father,
I am the truest devotee.
In the name of the Son,
I have kept myself clean.
In the name of the Holy Ghost,
I have earned my place in heaven.
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May the Real Frida Step Forward
He is in love with her unabrow
The shadow above her lip
She is a bonita mexicana
And he never misses the chance
To glorify her essence
Her "Two Fridas" graces his fridge
Side ripped where he pulled it
From his Art of the Century text
He is jealous of Diego Riveria
And the shoes that caressed her feet
The brushes that dangled from the corner
Of her pequita mouth
He lights a candle
On the anniversary of her death
Her life is animated
In the blueness of his daydream state
But I will not reside among these flat-paned hues
I will slick out from the turpentine residue
And paint myself my own senorita
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Art Lies=My Lover
I. St. Louis
He called me twiggy when we made love
A (silly) proclamation to my narrow boy hips
All woman beyond that fact
With enough soprano to fake the rest
He seduced me perfectly with that artistic /
The rose petals in the labeled glass jars
The soap on a rope shower opera
And walks through the cemetery at dusk
I was a 19 year old art student
Craving the beautiful landscape of San Francisco,
The bright lights of New York City,
The artistic rudeness of London.
I didn't know how to start, how to begin
He was the perfect catalyst to jump-start my crazy life.
I fell hard
Like all egocentric, hyper-sensitive artists
He said nothing can hurt you unless you let it.
I gave into it completely
Eager enough for the lasting pain.
II. San Francisco
We moved in together
Two starving artists living off the grime
Eager victims of city charm
A closet-sized studio was all ours
Infested with things that had made their escape
From the perfect view of Alcatraz across the bay
We never paid the bills on time
Candles became the only light source
For all our our nude studies
He was perfect with oils
Painting my flesh with the luminosity borne of genius
Several rich patrons of San Francisco
Look at the paleness of my naked, narrow boy hips
Every morning in their dining halls.
My own abstract renderings
Were bought by bars and community centers
A print here to the Hilton, a painting to the Ritz
Many thousands later we moved from our studio
With the ultimate prison view.
III. New York City
JFK Jr. lived right down the street
They said he and Caroline walked their dog Friday
By the stoop of our new two-bedroom townhouse
That place had blinds, a bathroom with a door, a working elevator
A man at the front gate
In the spirit of things we adopted a dog
A big one to keep each other company (while each other is away)
We named him Leo after DiVinci
But ended up calling him DC (like DiCaprio) for kicks
He didn't even mind that DC followed me around constantly
Did everything I said, but barked at him when he walked through the
We were known, we were published
They critiqued his work in the New Yorker
I socialized at the openings of my shows in the East Village
He bought me Yves Saint Laurent and Versace
And we took vacations to France, Italy and Egypt
Flying first class to places I used to dream of
On the eve of my 27th birthday,
He took me to our favorite Italian diner
He proposed with a two-carat diamond in a wine flute
I knew then that it had gone too far
I am not the woman I wanted to be
I am not the artist that I could have become
I am no longer called the abstract phenomenon
I live in a one bedroom flat on the wrong side of town
DC is my roommate, sharing my bed occasionally
With a grungy on again / off again English boy rockstar
For the most part I am alone
Creating with the pleasure I had searched for
So many years ago in the classrooms of St. Louis
Only now in this solitude have I found it
I hear from a mutual acquaintance that he married
Divorced, and remarried another woman
Now she is pregnant for the first time - twins
He could never do anything without turning up excess
There are times when I miss it.
The Mercedes in the driveway, the money
Articles of clothing that could buy a year of art supplies
What I miss most are the times before the riches
The tiny studio in San Francisco, the candle light for necessity
St. Louis and his silly soap-on-a-rope shower opera
I am content in the world that I live now
DC and his reverent adoration, the cheap paints,
Grungy foul-mouth rock boys and my tiny one-bedroom flat.
Cheap Magnetic Poetry #1
Dark morning dream
I will love life on all levels
You and I shall leave this hour
Summer roar / I sleep the day through
She is my bitch / god / spirit
Time like winter
Her sun turns a soft wind breath
Steel blooms dance across the golden sky
When God was a woman,
I was only four.
Shoes and panties were optional
Sundays spent outside
Streaking through the fields in Her backyard
Hunting for squirrels and whistling Dixie.
Barbie lived outside in a tent with her ten sisters,
And a chewed Ken doll did all the chores.
When God was a woman,
I consumed chocolate for good health.
We built Hot Wheel racetracks
Like celestial ribbons in the sandbox.
Our heights measured with finger-paint against Her bedroom wall.
We played Cowboys and Indians,
I was always the best Pow Wow Chief.
When God starting dating.
She wore heels and perfume,
The scales appeared from Her bathroom closet.
No candy before dinner, no singing or dancing,
the hallway at night.
When God married,
Her title was stripped
In an official ceremony with yellow chrysanthemums
White lace and candles,
In a building with stained glass in the images of men.
A place God used to avoid.
When God was a man.
Skirts and shoes were required.
We cleaned our plates before leaving the table.
In bed by seven P.M.
We donated Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks
To the able hands of little boys.
When God was a man,
I moved from His heaven,
Patched enough bruises
On the face of my old God.
Buried all of this guilt
And started my own religion.
Now I am God.
Worship only that which I see fit.
Bless myself in my own heaven.
And revel in the memories of the time
When God was a woman.
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as old as I am today
fitting finally into this
33 year old skin
I remember watching Alf
my first wife holding commentary
tupperware parties and the pta
the beautiful hair of bon jovi
talking about marriage with her best girlfriends
I overhear my second wife
not meaning to listen in
her talk about school
law and order and those crazy goo goo dolls
giggling about boys with her best gay male friend
I think of all those birthday candles between us
blowing out each tiny flame
quicker than I had intended
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It was something you had even
about forgotten evenings at dusk
hide and seek in the cemetery
whistling ghostly sounds among
granite and marble markers of the dead
it was me and three of my friends
don-what-a-joke my first college boy
friend james and his girl leah
all running like children
hopscotch blindmanís bluff
I though little of those bodies
under the surface of my skin
I was not the girl you once knew
lost with the years
answered the door with a laugh
and invited them back in
it had been a long time since I had
the cemetery at dusk
my friend jim was eager for a taste
vickie had enticed him with tales
vampires and such lurking
jim leaned heavily on my arm
leading the way with vickie
impressed by an odd formation
toadstools, an apparition
vickie cut through the circle
releasing the energy
flowing through me I knew
I feared losing my flesh
held my breath as we left
I traveled new orleans
chad behind the wheel
driving south to a place
these dead above ground
in miniature cities with streets
named after flowers and presidents
chad and I played like crazy in
knocking on doorways
sitting on top of headstones, snapping
gum and taking pictures
forgetting death in our pleasant recess hour
I learned then that the ocean
was just two feet under
the bodies would float up if buried
preferring the sunlight
with the spectacular lincoln street view
So long ago you told me
you were special
death was not an issue
you would ever entertain.
even the dead lie
reach out beyond their graves
trick us into believing
we would be better off
I am not the girl you once knew.
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he was radish cheeks on skin
through puberty he grew four inches
thin white waves rode across his spine
dividing the crayola ocean of childhood flesh
nick the little boy caught my
now nick the charming, nick the man child,
my lust on rose stationary, in tubes of barbie doll
lipstick and polish, cutoff shorts
and tank tops
I would bend, giving view to claim
he taunted me, dared this girl
whorls of our adulthood
in the outdoor classroom of whitefield,
his mother's backyard, we tried smoke
rings to prove our cool, I would
have cut myself
to be the scariest, prettiest of them
I had him and his patterned skin
pressed my hand against the warmth
The ocean-divide while I rocked the
my lungs burned, I knew then
I would yearn the taste
all bones and long straw hair
he talked for hours, listing signs
of the coming apocalypse
catholic bred, he ate the flesh of
drank the blood, the wine
I would cry out for the father
every time he touched me
we were wild and sinned,
drank to soothe the angst of ourselves
bounced ideas and tequila around
while studying and driving
it didn't last
under his rule, all sins are forgiven
if you believe. I never had faith
instead of praying, I drank
I would have died of consumption
he wrote sweet sonnets
read out loud with smooth lips, voice
enunciates the words, all moist in the mouth
I am enslaved, the beauty captured
on his pages, I become a wanton,
a queen capable of blossoming into a raven.
scattering across the mediterranean
tear the blue and scabbing my path
he is pale, like elizabeth
like elvira, with swollen lips and royal eyes
sings ghetto rap but cried when schindler saved the jews
we watched these sorts together
passing the pipe to friends,
all good will to men, to dopers
I have no qualms with the magic weed
makes a harlot into an angel
all expense paid rhythm-packed
trip from the skies to the heavens
denim slung from sienna hips,
swaying to techno rave, bass thundered
my heart beat quicker closer to him.
a stereotype, my african prince
my ebony lover, I was smitten
with his hue, with his metal
across his face, in his belly
rings clasped through dark flesh
glint under those disco lights
reflected yellow, blue, red across my twenty-one
year old skin. I was crazy
for needing, lusting
the X more than the ecstasy
from his hips, his mouth, his dance.
I would have rather had the pill
rubbed my hand until it bled
against the bar, pool tables, the bouncer
because it felt good
my body ached for it, soon my mind,
I was lost to the man and slaved to the high.
patchouli and oak moss scented
flesh made pale by talcum powder
pressed into pores, against her throat,
her long-fingered hands splayed
on my thighs, quivering as I inhaled
line after line of pure white above
my reflection on that mirror.
passing my life with the taste
that drug and her, coating my tongue
burning my nose, it bled and bled
my gothic bitch
black dyed hair, fingernails,
lips dried with the darkest red cake
she would quote aristotle, thomas
charles manson while making love
that wooden floor was so cold
the last night I found salvation
her wrists cut, that same darkness stained
across my mind, my nose bled
standing there, watching, watching for hours
I knew she would never scar
aryan perfection, he was white
cleft chin, and clean thoughts
not a supplier, but the supply
as pure and perfect as the best cocaine
not stinging the nose but branding the heart
a mouth meant to be stared at
he gave me a high when he touched
with that virgin body, his tremble
never from delusion or consumption
racing through him
I placed my hands against his belly
the junction of his hip and thigh
where the jagged line of some past event lay,
a historical marker on his body.
I felt selfless
for the first time, I wanted to be the giver
I lay claim with this touch
I am the high he lusts
I am the drug.
he is my favorite scar.