They thought she was dead,
at best deranged.
The way she undulated
through water, the colder
the better, how she stayed
down so long they thought
she’d drowned, the algae
in her hair, long floating strands
like a flag waving in wind.
They thought what she spoke
wasn’t language, some strange
twisted tongue from a country
they couldn’t pronounce.
But they were wrong, the color
and syntax too layered.
There was much they didn’t know.
Everyone gathered to stare,
to watch as swollen with words
she was pulled from the cove
to deep water, to steep, pebbled bank,
then left to her solitude,
begging for what they never understood.
The sleek feel of fur in her mouth,
the thick shine coating her tongue,
her long deep vowels coupled
with the softest of thuds,
come all this way to journey back home.
For Mother, Dying Alone
In the long night of your sleeping
you died, dreaming your last dream.
Were there lavender mists
to soften the mountains,
craggy forests filled with dark?
Were there brooks gently trilling,
a moon with a kindly face?
There are a dozen explanations
for why I was not there,
not near as true as this:
In the end we’re all alone,
no matter how many hands
to hold us back, or tug us gently on.
Barbie Gets Divorced
Let’s face it: at fifty
I no longer feel twenty
though you’d never guess
to look at me. Ah!
The wonders of polystyrene.
But in the night, I turn
slick as glass, hot flashes
almost melting my plastic bed.
Just as Ken finished
his manly stuff, fiddling
with the A/C, adjusting the fan,
I’d be freezing, teeth chattering so hard
my molded smile could crack,
pink skin turned icy blue.
Frustrated, Ken slept on the couch
and pretty soon Skipper
looked better and better
and Ken moved out.
“Fifty years!” I shouted at him,
“I supported you for fifty years!”
Everyone knows that Ken never held
a job, it was always me—
from fashion model to nurse
to lawyer to CEO. Everything
was mine. Did you ever see
Ken’s camper or Ken’s sports car?
Of course not! All Ken had
was his spiffy clothes with the Velcro crotch.
(He was more a Johnny-come-quickly
than anything else.)
But did he care? Did he appreciate?
No! Soon as things got rough
he left. It wasn’t my fault my fist
would wind up in his eye, or my toes
stuck behind his ear; my body was on fire!
I was sticky, going soft around the edges.
Nothing I could do! The rat, squeamish
as he was, bailed, then sued me for half of it all.
Talk about a bitter pill—what’s left for me?
Even GI Joe is younger than me, and last time
I saw him, he was missing a leg. “War’s hell” he said.
Well, all that’s water down the drain
as I always say. I’m not one to pout.
I’ll just drive this spiffy coupe
over to headquarters and pour me another guy!
They may have retired the mold that made me,
but brother, you’re a dime a dozen.
Look out, boys, here I come!