Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I taught myself to live in the moment,
to love the present. It's stagnating, this satisfaction. Stale. Reversing, even. I find myself rolling backwards down the slope, no desire to move forward. It's time to climb--to fear the fall instead of welcoming it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


We are falling women, falling in love, falling into people, into arms. I don't want to be fallen. Pick yourself up, woman. I am Lucifer read backwards;
make me float in love with you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I nurse my hurts
like a mother would her child.
Maybe one day when they're old enough,
they'll leave.

Monday, August 11, 2014


You wasted, devastated man
you said to me I love you
and I reached for the razor
out of habit.
There's nothing soft 
or safe
in your voice
it's not love as in lovely
or hearts as in Valentine's day
or flowers as in first date bouquets
it's love
as in tennis
as in zero, as in nothing
it's hearts as in the cadaver cardiac
flowers as in deflowered and repotted with gunpowder 
irrigated with formaldehyde
and black-eyed tears
Before I met you, I used to wear skirts
now I fear the cloth
that lets me move too freely
that pretends both at freedom and at modesty
but never commits to either
like you
I used to wear my heart on my sleeve
and let my legs do all the hugging
until my mother banned me
from wearing skirts
or anything with sleeves.
you said to me
I love you
and my eyes closed in a moment of silence
for all the casualties
of the war
that you're about to bring down upon
my gunpowder garden.


My mother accused me of being un-religious
and I was too embarrassed to tell her
that just last night I was on my knees
before you
drawing out God's name
with my mouth.


You sandpaper woman
with your broken-glass hands:
Every time you touch me, I bleed.

Burning up

Sometimes, I forget to breathe.
I only remember when my lips start turning blue
and you ask me why I feel icy
in June.
Once, you told me you loved me
and I watched your face fall when I said nothing
in return.
What I wanted to say was I love you so much that there's a burning in my soul and there are "I love you's" dancing in my body in smoke-ring banners
but I had no air
not a single breath left
to voice it
and in that moment, I was afraid to breathe
because I learned in science class
that oxygen only makes the fire burn hotter
and I was already a furnace--
only one breath away
from burning up

Monday, May 19, 2014


I am terrified of when I will happen.
Not of what will happen to me, not
of what I must endure
but of what I am going to inflict
and affect.
I am going to happen to someone.
I want to happen hard and fast
and be lasting
but what if
I am soft like water
and happen like mist
without the hardness of rain
without its stinging insistence
what if I happen
like dew
like vapor
what if I don't happen at all?
What I know is that I can survive.
We default to survival, to endurance.
I am terrified not of defaulting
but of not happening --
of being embryonic
and unrealized.
and I am terrified of happening also
because I know
the effects
of being happened upon.
Perhaps the most terrifying of all
is living
with the intolerable pain
of paradoxical wishing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


The way I say your name is different
from the way I say anyone else's.
It sounds fuller, rounder...
as though my tongue and teeth are
trying to ball it up and push it
towards the back of my throat because
your name belongs inside me, not exposed
and in the air
where anyone can use it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Post War

My body is a post-war wasteland
there are mines that explode when you run
your fingers over my skin
and there are graves of burning men and women
planted in half-moon craters across my arms
and on Sundays when I wash my hair
my knees are suddenly wet with red
John Frieda said the dye wouldn't fade for two weeks
but really, who could ever predict
sudden death
or stop gunshot bleeding
John Frieda didn't know shit
nor did any John ever who said
"It'll be okay"
You asked me why I don't talk to you anymore
I won't tell you
because telling means talking and talking
is not something that dead people do.
I always wondered why I could never
bear to hear you sing
and then I realized, yesterday
that no one ever appreciated
sing-song cruelty
Who ever wanted music
in a gas chamber?

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Love Electric

I run the barbell of my tongue ring against my teeth
as a jailer would his baton on prison bars
and intimidate my voice into
giving up your name.
I demand the right to call my attorney!
You cannot make me
I am going to hold on
to your name as though
it is prayer
to speak your name is to take it in vain
to write it down is to document it
there is a structural deficit in my medium of love.
I cannot speak of it nor write of it
there is an electrical transmission
perhaps I can email you my love with no attachments
Are you sure you want to send? There is no attachment included in this email.
Can you read between the lines? There are no lines to speak of

I fell asleep with shreds of paper in my teeth
fortune cookie futures 
all with your name on it.
I chew on remnants of hearts and souls and soul mates
and all the achy-tooth promises that you made 
when you were seventeen.
there's a space between 
what i say and what i mean to say
and no words to fill it. 
Maybe it's an electrical transmission
I'll leave it blank.
You can read between the lines. 


You are a bad writer.
You can't articulate, honey. I can see the words lodge in your throat. Every time you say you love me, your adam's apple swells
how dare you steal my apple adam. What would Satan say?
It's my apple. You try to talk around me and mine. Your words aren't sharp enough, nor acidic enough nor strong enough
to dislodge my apple. Damned to an eternity of suffering...yet here you wear my sin in your throat.
You told me you cannot cry
because your throat closes up and strangles your tears
what if I told you that my conscience lives serpentinely
and tightens its coils around your neck
every time I swell with guilt. 

Monday, February 17, 2014


My darling Westra,

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with doors.
I pressed my palms against glass walls and pushed because I believed that if I pushed hard enough, I could make doors out of anything and sometimes, I think, I pushed too hard and against too much and things...broke.
Once, I took my grandfather's sledgehammer and made a door between my room and his because this, I insist, is still the best way to breach distance.
My mother told me never to walk without my shoes but mom, how will I know where I stand if I can't feel the earth beneath my feet and my mother said instead to ditch the shoes and buy a few goose-down socks and take long walks on angel wings.
When I first put on my boxing gloves, I thought of what a shame it was to not be able to touch your skin for the next hour and ten minutes.
You hit me first with a thousand stars, with a galaxy of glittery hearts and the last thing I remember before I blacked out was the bright sun of a yellow boxing glove coming at me like a comet.
My mother told me you were trouble, that falling for you was falling too far down the rabbit hole and oh, dear Alice, your tears will do nothing but drown you.
Did you really think that I would sink down to my knees and beg for a first date?
I would have.
I would have swallowed my pride and locked my ego in the cellar with my dignity and gone down on one knee and begged you to marry me for two hours and five minutes till Friday the thirteenth hit credits.
Do you remember the first time you kissed me? It was dark and I was dark and we were black holes of need and the only light came from the fireworks between our teeth.
Four years ago, I tried to fit all my feelings into the box of chocolates that you gave me on Valentine's day and stuff them back inside my mouth because I was so scared.
When I left for college I took the little stuffed dog you gave me on our third date and the i'm-sorry-it's-not-real kitten from our two hundredth and built a white picket fence around them and called myself Mrs.Westra.
And then I cried for a whole year straight because you were the one door that I was too scared to push.
Last Christmas my sister bought me winter boots lined with sheepskin and I tucked my feet into the down and pretended that I was walking on the wings of angels.
On New Years eve I took my nephew's toy jackhammer and tried to make a door between your room and mine because, this, I insist, is still the best way to breach distance.
I'm no longer a little girl, but I'm still in love with doors.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Two hours after my first love left me I
punched a wall
so hard that I could see
the first man and his lover etched in red
in the concave part
of craters carved by my knuckles. Cave art.
My mother wrapped my hands in wallpaper
and said
that some people have bricks in their hearts that need cementing
and some have walls that need painting.
I did not understand how to paint walls, only how to break them
or color them red.
Some walls aren't meant to be broken,
my mother said.
Some walls are there to hold up your soul.
Some walls just need paper.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Sochi stole her sister's silks and wrote a poem in clothes on her body.
It was not an ode to love. It was an ode to beauty.

When I saw her like that, under the moonlight,
she looked like a bride. Her skin was white, white like the moon
but the white was so bright
that her smile was just an eclipse.

Ma always said that mirrors were khatham, so i only looked in them
when it was dark.
They say Bhagwan sees through the eyes of children.
When my daughter asks me if he sees her eyes in the dark,
I am tempted to answer: "only the whites."


Mahum told me that her mouth tasted of pennies.
There are worlds trapped inside my soul, she whispered.
there were chipped cities in her teeth, scarred skyscrapers.
and when she yawned i swear i saw the world implode.
Where are the worlds? i asked.
I swallowed them, she said, and smiled the smile of a broken woman.
I pressed my fingers into the dental records hidden in apple skins and
tried to stay the shattered dam of her tears.
I thought if i plugged my fingers into the gutters of her gums, her screams would stop.
MY MOUTH IS MONEY she screeched
and with every kiss sold her soul
a little bit.
My mouth tastes of pennies, Mahum said.
When I kissed her, all i tasted was rust.