Orchestral (NaPoMo 1)

It’s not the handstand of vision

bombastically tuning overworked retinas

but the fluidity of associations –

how the pupil learns to cartwheel

in response to fearful stimuli, its muscles

pulsing outwards in in A major

while the heart shrieks back into the womb.

It’s about sympathetic input and survival,

a sensory balance instead of eradication.

Living the perception instead of mastery.

Partnership. I’m Pavlovian to orange,

learning to pluck nerves in a violet range.



I hang my thoughts along the curves of a porcelain mug:

diced them into little bullets on a battered cutting board,

dunked them in a lukewarm blend of honey and earl grey.

Tea is liquid calm, cooking is therapeutic, so this should suffice,

I mutter, fragrant thunderheads boiled to life by flashing teaspoons.

They are thirsty and bitter, sliced like a shedding autumn

and swirling leaves in a tumultuous universe. As such,

I gorge on their anger and transfer my matter using heat –

suddenly, we are a flustered universe trying to expand

in a concord skull the size of a grape. I tell them melting is

reincarnation – they use cyclical, fatalistic, cannibalistic. 

I just sprinkle fine medicine in the brew and call it a night.

The Level

Bring the rulers made of pungent plastic and fluorescent dyes.

Hang the neon signs – I want a purple so artificial

that it mimics the glory of god – brightness

so impossible I could replace my retinas

with the walls. Demarcate the corners –

89 degree angles jutting into the eyes.


I’ve built a doghouse for tomorrow before

but the future is something new. Something

shiny and mechanical, and I’ve spent all

of today computing its width. Determined

its waist with a tape measure, replaced dates

with inches on the calendar. I’ve sent our

dress size to the seamstress. Customized

the cut – the color – the length of its train


grazing the grass as it enters our home.

It will be perfect, and it will be beautiful.

But the globe churns. Tectonics shift

and the sun changes its course.

The level tilts on the roof. This will all be fine.


The shingles fall. Stucco walls crack

and the vibrance erodes. Our tailor

quits so I question our vision.

Instead of a parietal lobe, a sickly bubble

gurgles our dimensions in a voice

only protons could record. Something is off.

Something is off – something is off – something


I’m learning to digest the air with my arms,

installing new mouths in my palms with amber clay.


They tremble like fossilized mosquitoes and chirp in unrequited

blood – please – I’ll recombine my own atmosphere

into a pterodactyl’s dessicated egg:


instead, there’s a half-baked gizzard slipping from my hand

and I’m so damn tired.

Day 3: Losing Teeth in a Nightmare

There’s a pyre of calendars burning in the pillows.

Smoke billows to the ceiling  in the color of overused pencils.

I’ve become a pious woman and summoned priests

when I mistook scales and grades for the devil.

They sound so small when they ricochet off the headboard

Eat more spinach

Their bouncing tracks knit opaque webs across the room.

I vomit cotton candy after a final tilt-a-whirl trip.

Our throats become papery and green after a while.


Another pen snaps as the chest accordions

and words collapse against each other like dominoes.

Where’s your sense of creativity?

The journal lies agape.

The document starves. It’s been hours since the last edit.

Don’t you want to get paid this month?


It takes three weeks to break a bad habit

but only one more misstep

before my molars fall out, start collecting in the rain catchers

on the linoleum floors of the amygdala during the night

Drink more water

and I’m walking naked through the limbic system.

Don’t bite your nails. 

The hippocampus spits out half-digested doves,

their bones clattering down vertebrae

like broken Slinkies.

Just take your calcium

and get back to work. 




Why aren’t you meditating anymore?, he asked, the hypertension

pills sliding down his throat like lightning bugs in a foggy jar.

I gulp in stars. I’m just too distracted, I replied. Because I’m busy.

Because notes flit across these cluttered desks like dragonflies.

Because nests of articles possess my screens with a guttural clatter.

Because the fireflies might not be covered by insurance.

Because I choose to swallow myself instead of a careful digestion,

spitting little pieces to the world in the fashion of a gumball machine.

Alight, he asked me why I started in the first place. Mouth full of lies

and quick wings, I rehearse my answer. I just wanted the noise to go away. 


There was a blue man outside my room today.

He prowled the rooftops with shovels for limbs

and an excess of tombstones strapped to his chest.

He frowned at my window with gelatinous dimples.

Had lost his features as though they melted off his face.

In response, I pasted giant googly eyes to his forehead

and hid the crinkled receipt from his new gaze

as one would a proper gift. Asked him how he felt.

Suddenly, he was more green. Cerulean, as if he

had swirled a bit of the cosmos in his molded flesh.


He told me he wanted to plant a forest tonight.

His saplings were strewn out to dry in a damp prism

of emerald. Wondered if he could tuck into

their asthmatic shadows like patchwork

of laughing darkness. Already removed his eyes

so they couldn’t show him the dawning world

as the sun blew away his warmth from their stems.

He’d wanted to hide, he said. I’d thought otherwise.


I wove cornea from the psalms of mourning doves

and hooked them into the rumbling, convex plastic

coating his new vision. He was a sickly gold, now,

splayed on the glass like a star before a black hole.

Said he knew I’d kill him today. Suck the evening

sky out of his skull like unnecessary trephination.

You all do. Doesn’t matter, I’d decided. He would die


without the lobotomy, anyway. Well, something of him

would. I chiseled his lunar name into another tombstone

and placed it in his stretched knapsack. Plunged the pick

beneath his jittery pupils and began our work.

Watched the world spill greedily out of him. His chest

concave. We’re always devoured by stars, regardless. 

Felt his head go cold as the ground turned orange.