1996 Saturn SC1

Hunter green, four doors
used to be mom’s work car
But was gifted to you at 17
So you could take care of all the driving
you’d need for your senior year.

speaker system and amp installed
by your brother and his friend
who loved sitting in the front seat
screaming at the top of his lungs
and punching the windshield
until it finally cracked
spreading over the front like a spiderweb
remaining there until the day it gets traded in.
he swears he’d replace it
but it never seems to happen and
the cracks grow minutely like the resentment
towards him as you watch
him and your brother eat stacker 3 like candy
and dupe you into taking them into Westerville
for shoplifting marathons at Meijer
where you get called by the store’s loss prevention
and you in turn call your grandmother
beg her not to tell your mother
because you know that somehow,
even though you were working across the street
it’s going to be your fault.

five seatbelts, but
if you took the backseats down
room for nine with two in the trunk
for trips to Columbus
to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show
on the first and third Saturday of every month,
pizza at Hounddog’s after
home by 4 AM before mom gets home.
as you tell your friends about it
the redneck in class asks you
if your brother is a faggot
because only faggots would go
to a show like that
and you get into a physical confrontation
because you’ve had enough of his mouth
and while you accept that they call you a dyke
fat stupid white trash whore
you draw the line somewhere
because while your life is fated to end up
as a single mother in a singlewide trailer
with dodgy plumbing
he still has potential, and you know how damaging
this type of pigeon-holing can be.

air conditioning works, but barely
and anyway,
your favorite part is rolling the windows down
and blasting whatever is playing on the alternative station
while you drive down I-71 heading towards
the Hilltop or Old Town or maybe even German Village
because it hasn’t been gentrified yet
and it’s still grungy enough
that anyone who might care
is doing things worse
than a bunch of white kids
rolling to techno at a warehouse party.
Eventually, you realize that your favorite part of
every weekend is the 45 minutes into
the city, seeing the lights of it as the sun starts sinking
and you know that you can drive yourself away
from the trailer park, From the rednecks
and make a new identity for yourself
one where you get to dictate the terms of your life
trying to see where reality threads in with whatever YA book
or modest mouse song
you happen to be shaping your life after
wondering if you’d ever be brave enough to do the things
you’ve dreamed about every night
while you were washing off your legs,
applying Neosporin and bandages.

Truth Becomes Her

At what age did I decide
the man in the moon was
Shadows and craters or
Dandelions only make allergies
And not wishes?
Or that I would make it
across the bridge
Past the cemetery
Regardless if my breath held or not?
What age defying lotion
Or retinol youth serum can I use
To remove the dark spots and
wrinkles of reality
So I can point up to the sky
And whisper in my daughters ear
About green cheese and
Moon rabbits and
Silver dollars and
Be able to swear it’s all true?
      • A.M. (2018)

buoy

i’ll never tell you, my darling
i don’t think i should —
is it fair of me to put the pressure on you?
i don’t think so.
i don’t think you’d be happy to know
simply by your being here
(with your sticky hands
and your gummy smile
and your unruly curls)
you have saved my life every day
this year.

the habit i’ve hidden for 23 years
i am finally able to stop
because how can i mar the skin
that now covers you?

still hearing voices but
i start ignoring them now
because how can i believe lies
when i owe you the truth?

still chanting mantras
but silently
because how can i speak cruelty
when i owe you mercy?

so much pressure
for such a little love
but you don’t need to do anything
and when you find this when you’re older
know it doesn’t change anything —
you simply are the buoy
i never knew existed.
of all purpose i could have
it’s an honor to be the dark ocean
that keeps you afloat.

Things I never thought I’d need to explain to my children

Don't put your feet in your diaper.

Don't eat electrical wires.

You can't push through solid wood; you aren't a x-man.

Paper napkins aren't for eating.

Gummy worms aren't really made from worms.

You can't say the word pussy, even if the President said it.

Nazis are bad.

They hate us because we are Jewish.

A kike is a bad word for Jews; I don't know why that man yelled it at me.

It's just not safe for me to wear my Star necklace around here anymore.

Punishment for Living, Pt 1

I.

Walking outside.
“Hey,
Fuck you fat bitch.”

II.

7th grade
Wearing my brand new
Minnie Mouse sweatshirt,
I desperately pretend
Not to hear them say things
And then
“just so you know
D—– just hawked a loogie
All over your back.”
How do you tell the secretary
You need to go home
Not because of illness
But
Because of humiliation?

III.

Waking up
To hands around my neck
“I just watched an episode
Of Bones
And it said I could kill you
But it would be impossible
To prove it was murder like this.”

IV.

Walking outside
With my daughter
“Hey,
Who was desperate enough
To fuck you?
Fuck you, fat bitch”