I’ve gone belly-up for my prodigal
and his knock-kneed swagger of hit-or-miss.
It suits him, the fall from grace.
Wafer-thin, minty-fresh, proto-punk.
Everything wasted becomes the boy,
crowd-sourced collar of hickeys blooming,
the headless glamour of youth,
all that I’d given up for lost.
My prodigal returns to me
without his keys, his coat, his shoes,
tapping his familiar tattoo at my door
as if I still had everything to give—
a kingdom, a cigarette, a fatted calf—
and all he had to do was ask.
Some mothers fear the worst. They still believe
in the fiction of control. Poor kittens.
Poor mittens. Poor sacrificial cotton socks.
I seem to be the bearer of bad news;
blue-eyed princeling, anime-bright,
articulated idol, towhead intactus.
A smile so sly you’ll forget your lunch.
That smug reflex of maternal pride.
Been there, done that. Took the fall
from the broken bough, cradle and all.
Almost a year since I almost lost him.
Lost the plot. Lost my head. Lost the habit
of believing in a time when “the worst”
was still good enough….”
“but I opened my coat to prove a point
and kept coming home with colds.
I thought I was done stuffing fists
in my mouth to mute the sound.
Done lying about what trails my throat
had charted. I practiced looking tall
men in the eye, spoke loudly,
pronounced every ‘R.’
I chopped wood at midnight.
I left the shower and kept
singing. I sang about my body
like I was proud. I was proud.
we turn into the stuff of sediment,
bare hearts on brass mountains,
brew our coffee slow
and our closeness slower,
make it like waiting for the
redbuds to blossom,
for the cicadas to crawl back home.
my friends build stricter houses,
cover them with clay and dandelions,
don’t let the cats out or the cops in,
fall deep into rivers
shivering against our small skins,
turn into crayfish and crawdad,
a hard shell host to flesh made tender,
made wet and full of wanting…”
“Before I was mortal, I was haloed
in feathers, my trinity of familiars;
whose birdsong was legend, serenading
the dead from their dreams, lullabying
the living to torpor. For the sake
of this world and him, I swallowed
my guardians, let them nest in my belly
and take turns in my throat. The sparrow
became my repartee, my grappling chatter
that flutters away the dead air. The mockingbird
staked claim as my mimicking tongue, parodying
the world as it heard it, to be droll,
to belong. And the thrush was poetry,
my childsong, my verse-voice, the brittle
thread to my blueprint life….”