Sphnix Life

I live my life in several stages

child, toddler, adult

and each layer

has to slip then slide

into position

to complete each act

eating, talking, work.

I have to be enough alive

to move along

to wake up

and learn

the basic steps


out the door.

each day.

Sometimes I cut

up food to baby sized


and feed myself

each bite forced.

Sometimes I eat like I’ll never eat again.

I appear and disappear

like high and low tide

showing my rocks

then covering up

with smooth ripples.

Looking peaceful

I glide into rooms

and sit for hours

pretending to pay attention

nod sagely

as if I am aware.


At work I smile

and automate

my job

so well I can serve


and greet them by name

“how is our son?” “is your kitchen finished yet?”

without eye contact

without really knowing their features

I know my customers

life stories,

everyday troubles

and couldn’t pick

them out in a line up


For years I have tried to answer the sphinx’s riddle:

“what has four feet in the morning

to in the afternoon,

and three at night?”

I am toddler, woman, grandma.

Each day

I fail

To remain

My age.

Taking Orders

when we are in a rush
his sloppy letters
come out through my hand
a xylophone of locking joints.

I stop dead
my fingers poisoned
and rush the other
sloppy, half written
back to the grill

“2 eggs and toast
for here please”

don’t make me
my no trespassing sign
is covered in grey lichen.


Sometimes we forget fire

is a delicate balance

of air and flame.


Fire is absence

of dark

of dampness,


fire demands.

Burns back skin.

to revel our roasted


chard and cracked.


Just Us

Just Us

We survive
As mirrors
Of each other

Deflected death
Reflected misery

Reaching to live
Reaching for safety
Reaching to remember

Finding arms, hands, hearts


threes are important to me
and so are you
but your gone
too, as well, also.

and I expect
ed it
and I saw it coming
and I trusted some process

again again again.

she told me
the third betrayal
is a rebirth
and I left
left left
was left

until you saw nothing
in or about of me.

but here in this city
of not quite ashes
I will gold your gaze

not above
not below
only at the waterline.

[staying late]


The desert shifted to hold a small clump of humanity. Sprinkled with some insanity of New England where the amount of green they have around the houses is directly proportional to the happiness inside. her and her and her and her and his block was made of hoses which are slightly different, which had five rooms and rucked sidewalks. The women walked to work and the men took buses smelling of frayed chemicals. In the background a plant sticks those chemicals to the cky, to the cactus, to the dying grass, the undersides of workboots.


She asks her to stay just
a bit past five, a tight clutter
of receipts cover her once clear desk
“ I know,” she says “it is a long
day once you are done in the field.
Your tired, but women
I find are more dexterous.”
finally home
she elbows the door
the fake brass knob
and leaves discount cans
on buckled porch.

He sits

it wasn’t a bad
feeling, enough of mood.
A striped nut threaded down,
her sholder
tighteding now
as she tries to flick
it off, but it began, has begun.

She and she and she
lay in the back-dry-grass
making shapes
out of chemical sky

sister, two: straightens those plastic straws
you buy at the dollar store
the straws you can bend and straighten.
She takes them all from the bag,
pulls and lines in rainbow color order.

Sister (ten): sleep walks
into her and her roomeverynight
drops her blankets and goes back to sleep
without warmth.


she and she and she
come in:

They – an odd pronoun – just first
glances and she already thought how it would end.
As she pulls out a chair
and typical sits.

A tree swallow
glides inches
cut grass once rises
then fall back

a shedding down blanket which was a leaving present
much to thin. She and she and she
sleep sides by sides tug at blanket ends where the feathers poke out sharp

she and she and she and she and he

when she works she doen’t think
of things but two
I am tired. What time is it. I am tired.
What time is it. I am tired
what time is it. Time tired time time

sister (nine): she hid in a truck stop bathroom once
sat in her stall
feet and crossed legged
on the cool metal seat.

A man came to her at work
“you are not offended by our,
the way we talk right?
Its all in good fun.”

she dug
hard spade
into harder dirt
nicking rocks,
slicing roots

according to her and his history
it was a good
thing. Once it is always
a good thing

by thirteen he was so used to auto-
mations he leaves non sensored sinks running for hours.
At the plant he moves his parts,
walks up late and runs
gasping, to the bus.

One between summer and fall they sat, and sat, he makes lists for her to comeplete, a complete change by tomorrow. Of course the quail were scatter running and dry grass rubbed under toes, she and she and she sit but do not move.

When he talked hurt
a giant squid tickled
tentacles, sucked
her minds feet
through both doors.


before puberty she and
a neighbor set an action figure blockeade
both ways of the sweating oil road. Hid to watch
for tire explosion. After several attempts a man
caught. Yelled. Held
their young arms and eyes in anger.

Time tired timed time
tire time time
time time

She lost

after/she lay
nose up studying
some space between rare desert rain

smooth wind sanded
rocks snatched
between air condtioaries
and sharp light.

That kind of woman doesn’t live here.

That type of hair would be shorn from her roots.

That job would look to good without her.

She has no tired thoughts to pin global between foot and floor.

She has too tired arms gather her girls
and jerk she and she and she

She and she and she
grew up fast:
making family meals.
Taking sides,
running away.
Grew up slowly: afraid of too much glare,
afraid to be out of their room,
they hid behind hanging shirts in her and his closet
and waited.

Worn out

she and she and she
Grow up.
Expand out.
Leave the chemicals
but not the dust.