“I Should Know Better” (poem with candy in it) (mine).

I Should Know Better

I grow my own food
& make my own pickles

I make my own yogurt
I make tomato sauce from scratch

but every time I leave a hardware store
a video store a country store a magazine shop

I want to put a quarter
into that crusty candy dispenser

selling Mike & Ike’s (which I don’t even like)
or peanut peanut M&Ms or Skittles

I know that candy has been in there for years
But I just want that one small handful

of cheap & attainable sweetness
I can’t help it

I want those candies
I want them bad

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We Are Older; We Float, We Sink, We Sleep When We Can (poem) (mine).

We Are Older; We Float, We Sink, We Sleep When We Can

I’m nearly thirty and capable of commanding my body
inside a vehicle. The car and I, we go places together.

I drive south and then west, four hours plus one coffee
stop, to see Scott and his brand new baby. We meet

at a French cafe with “vintage gas station” as its theme.
The baby is strapped away against his chest, silent

and unseeable. We drink white wine and eat Frenchly
-titled meals by the window. Scott covers the baby’s head

with a napkin while he eats, which I both notice
and don’t notice. He is exhausted & he is a father

& I’m so proud of him. He looks natural with a baby.
He looks like someone related to me. Maybe this is why

I love him, or maybe it’s his excellent taste
in wall clocks, or the sandy fields & shifting days

we survived together in laughter. His husband is away
that day, working in the city. When he arrives home,

his face is nearly yellow from exhaustion. I want to feed
them both: applesauce, keffir lime leaves, matzoh ball soup.

At Scott’s birthday dinner party the next evening, there is wine,
deeply chocolate cake, and lentil soup with a pad of floating butter

on top like the raft we each contain inside us, each of us
the fat, the proteins, the flavor, the impending melt.

“SHOUT-OUTS” (a minor epic) (mine).

SHOUT-OUTS

Today I feel like giving shout-outs
to my people around the country (around the world)
doing their thang as hard & best they can.
Shout-out to the poets writing poems
and the poets trying to write more poems.
Shout-out to the hard-workin’ ladiez
in grad school tryna make time for their boyfriends
& do their adult homework & get enough sleep
& not cry every single day cuz it’s a little too much.
Shout-out to the doctor-in-training.
Shout-out to the lawyer-to-be.
Shout-out to those who have moved recently
out of love for their partner
which I find a valid reason
to cross state lines.
Shout-outs to the ladies turning male
and the males transitioning into ladiez,
making a switch so tough I’ll spend my life
just trying to fathom it. Shout-outs to the players
of nighttime piano concertos in the bossman’s
vestibule. Shout-out to the teachers
and the educators and the riot-makers
asking everyone around them to Please
Step Up And Change with Me.
Big-Ass shout-outs to the baristas & baristos
serving medium-hot coffee to the assholes
of the world, myself included.
Shout-out to the musicians sitting in low-ceilinged rooms
making their tall music.
Shout-outs to all the dads & the moms
especially the new dads & moms
figuring their shit out and loving their babies
and trying to devise the best way
not to get pissed on. Shout-out to the pissing babes
spraying their new baby-yellow rooms
and puking right onto their mom’s faces
because that mom is still gonna love you
and I look forward to understanding a love like that.
Shout-out to the horse-owners and the pig-lovers
& the goat-chin-scratchers, pulling cold flakes of hay
from the bales to keep those animals alive
through these cold-ass months. Shout-out
to the gay dads preparing for their baby girl
& conquering the question of breastmilk.
Shout-out to the ones looking to feel better next year
cuz I think we all want that.
Shout-out to the firepeople for saving our lives
and the ambulance drivers for saving our lives
and the snow plow drivers for saving our lives.
Shout-out to the intrepid mailman
driving up the hill to bring me the news
I need. Shout-outs to the chaps & broads
serving lunch & dinner & breakast. Shout-out to anyone
working outside at this very minute. Shouts
to the truck drivers who are Literally Bringing Us
Everything. Shout-out to the pilots of the planes
that carry us to family and vacation.
Shout-outs to the grannies knitting hats for charities
& the grannies knitting hats for grandchildren.
Shout-out to my grandpa who asks good questions
& who I owe a telephone call.
Shouts to the journalists trying to make sense
of the world quickly enough to help us make sense of it.
Shout-out to the witches that still live in Salem.
Shout-out to the volunteers of anything.
Shout-outs to the instigators & the academics
crushin’ it in their university newspapers
& in the streets. Shout-outs to the full-time potters
& the full-on proper ladies serving tea
to the homeless (if you exist).
Shout-outs to Every Single Person working at a job
that is not their dream job.
And shout-outs to even those working
at their dream jobs, because not even dreams
are perfect. Shout-out to the humans in Info Booths
everywhere. Shout-out to the toll collectors & magazine
slingers. Shout-out to the people driving across the border
to get to work. Shout-out to the tractor drivers
& their neck pains. Shouts to the lovers
underneath the sheets & the ones defaming
public restrooms with their bodies (cuz who am I
to judge). Shout-out to the straight-laced ladies
who wanna get whipped in their bedrooms.
Shout-out to the ladies who really don’t.
Shout-out to any man acknowleding his status
of power and using it wisely. Shout-out to the PhDs
& the RIPS along the highway.
Shout-out to all the goddamn good humans
whose presence we no longer get to enjoy,
may they rest their weary heads in a sweeter world.
Shout-out to the writers writing in secret
at their jobs & sleepily at home.
Shout-out to the beekeepers & the bees.
Shout-out to the injured athletes, because pain
knows no salary. Shouts to the loudmouths
& the whisperers and to anyone
with a birth mark on their face
that made their formative years miserable.
Shout-out to the people living with disabilities
that are finding grace where they can.
Shout-out to to everyone I missed,
because I know you’re shouting, too.
Shout-out to everyone who knows
it’s about listening & not being heard.
Shout-out to the haters who are gonna be all
“That girl’s poems are too damn long.” Cuz listen:
I’m short, I’m compensating, I’m just trying
to be a little loud to make a little more goodness grow.
I’m shouting out. Holler back.

Ugly Ole Sweater poem (mine).

I bought this scruffy poet cardigan
with a big ole stain on the cuff
because it has a professorial pattern
and because it already had a big ole stain
which means it’s safe from spoiling by me,
having already been spoiled by someone else.
Does this sound defeatist? To me it’s relaxing,
the stress of ruination removed by the simple
presence of a big brown smudge. I love you,
big brown smudge! Were you car grease or paint
or pigsweat? Who cares! I’ll eat my stew
with you, I’ll sit at work & cast no sweat
upon this perfect, ugly, poet sweater.