I was a revolving wheel of fermented bitter and overripe sweet. If you’d have told me you loved me, I’d have said, “don’t lose sleep over it.” I would have lifted the white cotton hem of my blouse and exposed my bleached beating heart to you, at 4 in the morning as the sun began to rise red behind the nonpariel San Francisco peaks. I would have walked away and smoked your memory with coffee for breakfast.

I was flesh falling off the bone, and staring into a wall length mirror, regarding myself over a bottle of Old English. My jaw was a permanent smile beneath the skin peeling like wallpaper as the people passed by.

As the boys took a chunk of my meat for a snack and the girls took a measuring tape to my moth wing pelvic bone, I couldn’t help but grin. I couldn’t help but laugh.

You were a message written in dry erase marker, fading and increasingly irrelevant. If I’d have called you on the phone, you’d have said, “It’s time for you to be alone.”

You would have unfolded a story for me about a love that never runs out and sweet pea blossoms and sexual tension between two pure hearts. You’d have snapped my face in a freeze frame as I caught the swoon, tucked that picture in your wallet and ghosted like the chilled morning air under the hot desert sun.

You were a spilled urn.

And I, in my 40 ounce to freedom state, danced over the slate grey of you until you were indistinguishable from the dusty hardwood. I, beneath a handle of caramel liquor, beat you into the dirt like an old bottle cap.

Somehow, though, I awoke beneath you. You fell asleep on top of me and the weight of your disregard is smothering. So this is what comes of two children in love. This is the intricate barbed lace of the human mating ritual, the only species for which the end note runs into eternity. This is love beneath a microscope.

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Ally’s Ode (want a cookie?)

Precedent

A Cleveland child’s melanin was Just enough Cause
for murder-
Cold blood under the warm sun.
Six million dollars will not be enough
to sook his mother’s ache,
You can’t tell her this was an honest mistake.

A man had his breath pressed out of his lungs
On a live stream, on a street corner,
The world watched him beg for his life.

Protect/Serve/Seek/Destroy.

She was from Waller County, a pin drop on a map
That’s now a black hole void
where precedence discards prudence.
Where a woman can be detained at a traffic stop,
Found hanged in a jail cell,
and forgotten.

A Fort Worth teen plead guilty
to assaulting a mentally challenged child.
Cold concrete, wire hanger, steel locker, chipping paint
Are the canvas onto which he scrawled the slurs,
the acid words and acrid variations
of the Purity of Hate in America.

He served no jail time,
It wasn’t a hate crime.

A small town in Michigan runs on brown water,
Their babies have rashes and their hair is falling out.
Never mind lead poisoning causes death and developmental delay-
Those kids have bed rolls over at Genesee,

You see,
They are pre-enrolled in the prep school for slavery,
The cops will let them know when it’s their time to go.

Their mamas smoke foil and rise above the pain-
Flesh of womb claimed commodity before the
cord stops pulsing
Gaslighted by the streetlights
which always blink red and blue.

If five white teens went missing
from the nation’s capital,
the whole world would mourn and wring their People magazines
Until their salty fingers all had sliver on sliver of papercuts.
Would put out a special on dateline NBC with
a reward for any information that
might lead to their discovery.

Tomorrow is a smog cloud,
Tomorrow no one is safe.

It’s polluted by the precedents we set, today.

Autumnal

I tied my Self to a root in the ground,
frozen, solid, base of the neck.
&my arms stretched up
like a vine.

The trunk was all dried
on the outside,
petrified.

The arms bent like branches
under quiet weight,
broken in places
taking
stances of death.
Dancing like breath

&bitter red leaves
begged to know,
what was left?

I buried myself under
my mortal tree,
thought I’d sync to the
earth and then I’d be free
Of romantic ideals:
of you and me
me and you
you and I-
aching like howling
to the moon in the sky,

Hungry like wolves
or like people,
like flies.

Memorial

I open up my chest like a gift
and there’s a deluge of gritty love-
all tinseled and dressed in lights
whose bulbs have burst,
caked in dust.

Every year I can’t resist,
I send it flying off to you
across a weeping ocean,
but it’s only a paper crane by Christmas.

Untitled

Folding at the center like a doily, you know I’m far from anointed but I’m boiling. I crinkle at the corners like a paper, thin like a vapor, with the charcoal of the earth earning my favor.
I’m a hypocrite, I’ll eat my conscience under tables lit with all the things she said, all the things she said running through my head, running through my head.
&You will say you read my pages when we met but don’t forget about the way I saw you leaving in a yellow haze, I asked a question about molly’s face, you ran out of things to say.
Today is pierced sharp as a crease, it’s the last wrinkled page in my book. Our heroine will kiss the beast and toss a red rose on the wind, I dare you to look into the north west fog where we forget our crepe paper hearts and fold like origami.

motherhood

the greasy counter cost
five cents on the dollar
of my time, like
savings on a sponge
where my face becomes
my mom’s.

the dishes in the sink eat
ulcers in my belly, like
manic little keepsakes
dancing dirges on
my tongue.

&it’s the lonely list of hours
in a glass I want to drink,
where I make my pretty body
walk the plank-

but there’s a line that cuts
my face,
a hair that’s going grey,
the dirty mirror knows
what I’m supposed to say.

in the morning it’s a
yellow sun, illuminates
my pride into a white-hot
sunrise Lotus, he’s
a clear blue light.

it’s a golden honey bulb
beneath a fresh soil face,
mama’s voice calling
butter on my bread.
grows like roses in my garden,
hot dinner on my plate.

I’ll clean it over for the clovers,
make a dish and
I will lick it clean,
a garden everlasting
for the suds my fingers
prune beneath.

A vision

I caught my bulbous reflection as I walked into the bus and disappeared under exclamations of insecurity in my mind. I shoved my money into the mouth of the fee troll and lurched into the seat near the center door. Through the crackling window, the earth was drowning in the sky.

I was sitting up in the blue velour booth that felt sticky but somehow clean. Public transit. The smell of exhaust, the automated voice system chiming like a robotic bell tower. I was feeling like my diaphragm had turned into a lead box, thoughts like banshees, vision like a painting.

And then suddenly, all I could see was a quick flash of three images like someone was holding tarot cards to my face:

A slender white rooster with scales and angry talons poised to strike. Wild eyes, spread wings and an open beak- head cocked to one side.

A blue sky with a puff of white clouds. Hot heavens that went on forever. A desert sky.

And a serpentine dragon flying, slithering by. Not the dragon of renaissance fantasy lore, with impressive wings and sword like teeth. This one was more like a gargantuan black snake, hovering sagely in the air like a float at a Chinese new year celebration.

This was the only vision I’ve ever had. I was pregnant with Ronan and everything was a question mark. I still wonder what it meant.