Before I go, I have something to say

Category: Poetry

Locust Street McDonald’s

This is where I went after seeing her, this is where I stood in line for my food. After pretending to hold a conversation for an hour, the same thing over and over, and her begging to go back home, at lunchtime I left, drove […]


Here to see our daughter, five-year-old Amy knocked on the door. Midnight frost hovered in the night air, about to settle like dust on the prairie’s broken wheat stems and her bare arms. In her white undershirt and panties, she’d tapped so quietly we almost […]


A wedge of blue, like a powder-puff fairytale shoe, he lands on my feeder, edging in among the dun colored sparrows. “What kind of bird is that?” my husband asks, and I turn, prepared to be delighted. Perhaps an oriole, a bluebird, even a painted […]

The Slip

In the fitful glow of the bedside gaslight, he spies her tantalizing new garment. Sewn of silk the color of a conch shell’s curved interior, hung by one lace strap on the bathroom door’s brass hook, it beckons. Lingerie, he thinks, finally she has purchased […]

Winter Windows

Morning’s lemon sun draws me to the glass, until some frozen presence makes me step away, a draft like a warning breath from the east-facing kitchen window. A gnawing numbness grips my hand, and my body becomes a glass of jagged ice cubes, colliding underwater. […]

The Tulips are Doomed

The tulips are doomed, sitting ducks in tonight’s late frost, two feet tall and naked. Red as my mother’s Revlon lipstick, they opened shamelessly all day in the sun, but close tight now at twilight, succulent triangles cupping their deep black centers. Clustered unaware under […]

Packing to Leave Again

All up and down the block this morning, women are packing to leave. Getting down the smaller suitcase, emptying out half the closet and the upper dresser drawers, while their husbands sleep, sleep it off again, spent from the effort of keeping her in line. […]

Repair (The Good Fight)

Those nights we fight, sitting on the hard kitchen chairs, dinner bones still piled on our plates, there should be marks, sharp drops of blood matching my teeth, ripped fur bits flung beneath the table, evidence of hurt among the crumbs. That’s what I know […]


Now I know it all. Now I know I know your heart’s imperfections: left anterior descending coronary artery fifty percent occluded, right one nearly as bad. Aorta: distal, mild. Those petechial hemorrhages on the small and large intestines, they can’t hide from me now. I […]

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Headache

I Under my pallid forehead, The only moving thing Was the arc of the headache.   II I was of two minds, Like a head In which there are two kinds of pain.   III The headache drilled in the winter chill. It was an […]

My Time on the Sofa

That February the white sofa was my gurney, my plinth, my bier. Laid low by a headache no doctor could define or ease, sick to death of the bed upstairs, I stayed in my favorite reading place even though I could not read. The sun’s […]

God on the Head Pain Unit

Today God is a girl named Sarah with a headache. Her eyes are killing her. She leans in the doorway of the green room, where we wait to see the doctors every morning, the opposite of rounds but still that’s what they call it. Something […]

Describe Your Headache

When the doctor . . . asked me if my pain felt like pins and needles, I said: “No, it’s more like rubbing against a hot driveway impregnated with broken glass – ” and [he] . . . said, “Oh, right, you’re the poet.” – […]

Eating My Words

I am processing words for dinner, cutting sentences into juicy bite-size chunks, heaping them into a bowl, a casserole, a stainless steel vat, and putting them on the stove to simmer. I have dirtied every utensil in the house. Even the cherry pitter needs washing, […]


We opened up the unit when he died, revealing to the sun a poor man’s cache. This homeless man, who loved me once, or tried, kept all his treasure here, and all his trash. If he had known his end would come so soon, would […]


Piercing the juniper berry, I think of gin, that first swig I took in the kitchen with him. Lying on the floor, alone in the house for the night, homework done or unattended, we performed our own science experiment. If I lie down on top […]

O Pioneers

“Tundra plants are fragile. Please stay on paths.” – sign at summit of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park We drive up where the summer meets the snow, where tundra grows in view of mountain peaks. The cold is shocking, from a sky so […]