Too Negative

I was a kid other kids’ 

parents gossiped about.


They told their children

what I was: too negative.


I get it. Fair to fear

contagion of bad attitudes,


to think naming a thing

can be an inoculation.


Of course my friends

filled me in. Of course


I took my diagnosis

lying down on mostly


frozen sand. Loose

grains made their way


to my scalp. Stayed there

Wow! You've Changed

You’ve changed.

You used to be so

and now you’re all

like, you’ve transformed

I don’t know how to describe

it’s like

you don’t like canasta anymore

you text IN ALL CAPS

your selfies are so


like, are you out to prove something

you’re a lion

you’re a bear

you’re a maggot

you’re a virus

I just don’t know

if we can be friends anymore.

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

And the eyes of those two Indian ponies

Darken with kindness.

They have come gladly out of the willows

To welcome my friend and me.

We step over the barbed wire into the pasture

Where they have been grazing all day, alone.

They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   

That we have come.

They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

There is no loneliness like theirs.   


On the night we dug up your father’s body

(for reasons I can no longer remember)

we took turns with the shovel

as we passed a bottle of Whyte & Mackay

             back and forth.


You didn't say anything

until we opened his casket:

looking at his corpse you said,

“He’s smaller than I remembered”

and then walked away,

leaving the scotch and the shovel behind.


The next day,

when the police came to the apartment,

they didn't say anything—

An Online Friend Dies Somewhere Outside the Internet

Freezes, goes blue screen, shuts down. Dead pixel, dark.

Ghost echoes, lossy in the source code. Time zones away,

people who have actually shaken hands with my online friend

stand around a box of his remains. I'm left to click through data,

two-dimensional and without decay, in multiple windows.


Close all until I'm left by the one that renders birds, sky,

and keep-moving-nothing-to-see-here clouds. Nothing

to see here. I go for a walk to the edge of town, daydream

Women Do This Every Day


At the park I look for Levita,

because our work is the same—

swaying wide-legged over foraging toddlers,

we avert bruises, discourage the consumption

of found objects, interpret primordial languages,

serve fruit from hastily filled containers,

and trade a few stories and questions, so I know


that it's not the same work,

because the toddler is her employer’s,

and evenings she goes to a small apartment, crammed with roommates


sam says you can’t name your book good boys without a dog

but sam doesn’t know that i am the dog

i am the ultimate mutt and i am telling him this story

at the bar called college hill tavern which looks like a front

for some operation where all the bar stools appear as if

they were staged in under ten minutes and

the girl with the fake lashes knows

i like a double gin and i am telling sam

that i am a dog who was converted

when i was seventeen and my mother found an essay

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