Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Deer Brother

i told you not to drink from the first spring
and you did not become a tiger
i told you not to drink from the second spring
and you did not become a wolf
you would not listen to me when i told you not to drink from the third spring
and you became a deer
your eyes are still big and brown lined with long lashes
your fur is the burnished color that was once your hair
your hooves and tail never make me forget that we once shared a womb

you live with me in the thatched cottage in the woods
i wreathe you in columbine and primrose
we eat our nuts and berries
we drink our fill from the stream outside our door
no witch has poisoned it with the spell of beasts
you no longer speak but in the evenings rest your head upon my knee
and gambol in the redwood trees by day
briefly forgetting the grief that you are not a boy

i worry for your safety when you roam
but i cannot control you any more
than when you dipped your face to the third spring
the silver water tainted, bewitched but oh so sweet
and tasting of wild mint

i know there are hunters in these woods
in orange vests and with big guns
once i dreamed of a little girl
younger than i, with metal on her teeth and a big buck bleeding in her lap
in the back of a truck
her face was as depraved as our stepmother's
and i wonder if it was she, visiting me with the reminder
that she cursed that spring
and took my twin from me

but no matter the danger
someday we will venture forth from these woods, brother
we cannot live alone forever
a girl and her deer
i grow thirsty for a young man's love
as you for that water
i understand you now

for human hands on my throat
i would risk becoming an animal, becoming a ghost


  1. Nape

    You can't know
    every girl's heart. Some want to reach
    right in and grab the beat

    while another might smile
    as she blows a hole through you
    before mounting you
    on the wall with her other trophies.

    Wild isn't soft.
    My nape isn't downy, it's bristly,
    matted with dirt, flea-bitten, mangy,
    sleeping under boughs and stars
    in the rain, eyes downcast, in the heat, panting,
    nibbling at grass or wild roses
    or tame roses if they aren't guarded by fences
    because thorns or consuming beauty don't mean anything
    when you're hungry.

    And then it's over
    not how you thought, is it,
    Diana was the Huntress
    and led her pack, arrow notched,
    standing up to Apollo.

    Don't mistake fair.
    Don't turn your back
    since we may as well face what's coming:
    inside every smile is a dagger

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  3. It has been a long winter.

    It doesn't snow here,
    but the cold wind off the
    bay crawls into everything.

    In this winter I have been
    the wolf,
    I have been the prey,
    I have been the blood on
    the snow,
    I have been the witch,
    I have been the bones.

    There is a different wind now,
    blowing through the magnolias
    falling, the only snow.
    The baby runs laughing
    through the laundry drying
    in the sun.

    Maybe today there will be
    no wolves, no witches
    no snow, no blood, just
    clean sheets that smell like
    springtime sun,
    and the baby laughing.

  4. i see an image of a smiling girl
    holding up bloody antlers in triumph
    i’m reminded how
    terrifying the people around me are
    and how terrifyingly overwhelming
    my emotions are
    and how dangerous blindly following
    our parents might be
    and how dangerous i am
    because i cannot always stand in the
    face of what i hate
    and do something about it
    because i am bent over
    in tears, agony

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  6. there was a forest inside of you
    waiting to be drawn out
    i know that place
    unfamiliar and dark
    or too familiar
    and dark at first
    the urge to recoil
    the desperation to hold the forest inside
    keep the branches from bursting
    from your body
    like Alice's limbs
    it was too much


    you deserved them you know
    you were one of them once
    you were wistful
    and delicate too
    but you lost them in that forest
    dark with places to hide
    they could have protected you
    they could have led you away from her

    the beauty you craved was there all along

    the beauty you forgot was there all along

    it waited in your pencils
    it waited in your water colors
    it waited in your pastels
    your acrylic
    your oils
    it was there

    you had the power to control the chaos
    control color and line
    (like my words)
    to manifest

    but they came and they took your canvas
    snatched you from your home
    forced you
    to stuff it down your
    take it with you
    too young
    too afraid to let it go

    you were
    you were
    but it consumed you
    it shot you down
    held you in its vulgar lap
    forced your head back
    to watch you bleed

  7. I dive into the gasoline sheen
    of the black well's water

    hell's aura will swallow me that way
    so I go willingly under

    with my bridal gown, my urn of ashes, Ophelia's ghost, and my scorpion sting

    I will face it that way,
    my loved ones so faraway
    looking down from the top of the well

    I will face the disconnect, the illusion
    of love cut in half from the black circle
    and the only orb of sky above
    your concern to draw me up up, a pail of water

    I will tease the darkness with my tongue
    a snake coiling around the spiral finding bones
    still further still deeper

  8. (Late)

    I wanted to be flame
    I wanted to burn you
    I wanted to make you bleed
    I wanted to make you weep
    I wanted to make you love me
    I wanted to deserve your love
    I wanted to be be your water
    I wanted to be your precious thing
    I wanted to you to heal me

  9. she had no eyes
    she couldn't see
    only holes
    empty white spaces
    where her eyes should have been

    a way for her to feel strong
    so they had to be weak
    a way for her to gain power
    over something defenseless

    she wanted victory
    and in her twisted mind she got it

    is this what happiness looks like?

    once there was a boy
    but now he's a man
    it was before i knew him
    he told me the story of how a deer
    looked into his eyes,
    & then he pulled the trigger
    because someone else told him
    or expected him to

    i can't remember if he said he cried
    but at that moment
    when he did something he felt was wrong
    he decided it would be the last time

    he couldn't do it again
    it hurt him far too much
    so he stopped
    and he hasn't gone since

    this place we grew up in
    with many mountains
    and various kinds of green trees
    a place of all seasons
    winter, spring, summer, fall

    for fall was the time
    when they dressed in their fancy clothes
    they went to their fancy stores
    to buy their fancy supplies

    they considered it a game
    they considered it a challenge
    they based their life around these man made schedules of time
    in the name of nature
    they told me they were keeping the population from overgrowth
    to me they were trying to justify their actions

    with their stickers on their trucks
    and the photos that they shared
    the women celebrated with them

    all i could think was how could you?
    no one wanted to pay attention
    no one wanted to hear
    for because i disagreed
    i was considered the crazy one

  10. Death of a Three Point Buck

    Daughter the weak do not live long in this world,
    So do not give thought that an hour before
    doe and fawn were foraging
    the forest floor
    For shoots and seedlings of eastern hemlock
    While that buck stood watch over them
    Head raised, neck muscles
    taut like ropes tethered to the hulls of ships
    to keep them safe from a brutal storm,
    lie quiet with me
    In this tree stand twenty-five feet above
    the underbrush,
    Sight that buck and squeeze the trigger,
    be that storm Now baby girl.

  11. #5
    If I lived in the forest I'd be scared of twilight
    because when that moon rises, I can barely see it
    and it's so dark, so dark, that I feel suffocated
    isolated, a deer-- the target--and
    though he sleeps in the bed beside me,
    it is quiet, too quiet, and I'm
    afraid of hearing your voice
    dancing through the trees
    my cottage isn't built for three
    But walls mean nothing to you.

  12. 05.
    i’m certain i am becoming more
    transparent, receding into the light
    every inch of my body scourged
    until the universe absorbs me,
    covers me in lush green,
    forces my skin to grow plump berries.
    deer pluck food from my aching body.
    before they devour me,
    you my love can have this flower
    i grew it for you