This morning I saw Jesus (I call it Universe) reflected

in the eyes of a Black Man I picked up on Dixie Highway

in the rain. He looked younger than me,

had dreads and dressed in Carhartt layers

and carried      two work bags.   Tools,

heavy like my step-father’s

(I’ve been trying not to write about him,

not because the topic is too much, but because

a Christmas Eve suicide deserves more than a fit of words

vomited on an anniversary. The story is a real gas.

I promise.)

 

Rocky has three boys:

13, 11, and 8 (I think).

“I’m working on seven,” he said.

 

We talked about the weather in earnest

(we both fear February’s revenge and agree

that December has been mild, though, the last few years—

maybe the season is shifting).

 

“Thank you for trusting that I wasn’t a serial killer and letting me help you.”

“Be careful out there.”

And that’s when Love, the divine kind, became solid

and I saw it in the way his face froze

when he saw himself in my eyes, too

 

 

 

 

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That Time I Pretended to be a Masseuse in Kentucky

I lit this candle today

for the first time

in years. I let it burn

while I said my Prayer

To the Hustle-Gods and The Universe (because

this candle came from Paducah,

from a barn where I might have died

but instead gave my first commercial hummer–

I hate that term, but it flows. I’d told him

I was a masseuse, then I rubbed him

with olive oil I’d scented

with cheap, drug store perfume.

He bought wax fuck-ups from a nearby candle factory

and poured it into glass and sold them for $3.

He gave me this one on my way out.)

 

My dime store Voodoo runs like this:

Today I lit this candle

that I haven’t lit in years.

It’s perfect. Serendipitous even.

So all hail  the hustlers,

the lunatics and queens

of making it all come

together. Bless those

saloon girls and the men who pay them,

the honest dealers who mean no harm

(like that one in Gary

who came to my apartment when he found out

I’d overdosed on his stuff.

I gave him a book on Egypt and cried.).

Thank you for all this grace.

 

Aside

22 Weeks

Image

The trouble is you never asked me to give it up —

the job, the scandal, the booze, the fun; I just knew
it all had to go if we were going to make it.

You said, “I think you like the way they look at you,”
and I could taste the venom on your tongue.  The only thing
you asked me to sacrifice was my figure for a child
whose promise may change my name,
one day,
to Bride.

If it’s any consolation,
they don’t look at me
anymore

and tonight, while you’re out
at the wedding, I lit all of the candles
on our porch
(the one room that you gave me
to be mine, the place you neglected
and never filled before I came,
but I still call
it ours). I looked at it
from the sidewalk. I was happy
with the glow.

From Whence I Came

The station at LaSalle and Van Buren

The station at LaSalle and Van Buren

This, too, is a compiled re-post of things-I-put-on-Facebook-that-didn’t-belong. 

I’m a Chicagoland native.  I spent the first twenty-seven years of my life in the city and various surrounding suburbs; this is where my roots are.  In that twenty-seventh year, I fell into infatuation with a man from Western Kentucky, and I moved south to be with him.  While the relationship only lasted a few years, I became enmeshed in life down there for about nine.  I started going to school, I carved out a little existence for myself 400 miles from my family.  After nearly a decade, though, I decided to come back.

I had a psych professor once who dropped this gem on us as a class:

“Poetry is like taking a really good shit.  It feels great, but you don’t need to share it with others.”

While I giggled and saw her point, a few years in a writing program swayed me toward the dark side.  I was a fiction concentration.  Admittedly, this is catharsis, but for whatever reason I am keeping these little artifacts of my return.

August 24, 2011 5:41 a.m.

Home

The distance from
here to there.  Every mile
in between
four hundred or fifteen,
the leap
from a warm lover’s bed.

Here.  Not here.  Where
I used to be.  Something
confusing.  The place I keep
finding, leaving.

Where the heart is,
the feet are,
the fire is burning.

July 8, 2011 at 3:22am

I forgot what commuter trains sound like.
I forgot how it feels to ride one north,
to LaSalle Street, to walk up the stairs from the sidewalk
(an act of faith every time, that I remember)
to the Brown Line platform and wait.
And when the next L arrives, I can’t remember much
except
I want a window seat
so I can look out and down while
the train teeters and tilts around the Loop.

After that, we’ll cross the river,
and all I’ll see will be
buildings,
monoliths,
skyscrapers
all lit and glossy.  I hope
the other passengers see something beautiful
from the places they stand and sit.
I pray they’re not so deep in the city
that they never see it from the outside.
This vision is holy.  The conductor
is a black man with braids, whose voice scratches
the name of every stop and gives us all warning:
Sedgwick, this is Sedgwick.  Armitage is next.

I’ll stand up before Belmont, hold tight to something
before the cars all stop and inertia and gravity throw me
forward and down.  My center of gravity will shift
if I want to keep standing, and this much, I remember.