Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dealing with Demons

My mother tucked me and my siblings in each night
reminding us of sin, told us to pray
warned us that the Devil was never
too far to hear or see our footsteps
no matter how much he had to drink
but if we were good girls and boys,
turned the other cheek
then God would chase him away
and save us, if we believed
repeated Our Fathers, Hail Marys
and Apostles Creeds then Mom and us,
we'd be in heaven - looking down
in righteous glory on our enemies
and all our suffering would be worth it
because we'd be together and safe
so, we'd fold our hands
bow our heads
and say 'amen'.

When I'd forget the next day
taking God's name in vain or
acting less than saintly
Mom beat the Lord into me
with the same hands she used to pray
She'd call me things like Satan or Demon
had me so convinced I smelled sulfur on my skin
each bruise confused with confession
like my broken blood vessels spoke
of guilt within, revealing a million
cells of transgression spilling
on the floor like rosary beads,
a trail of Our Father's judgment
leaking onto the linoleum.

I prayed.
Every night my sister and I would kneel beside our beds,
weave our fingers together
and in hushed tones ask God for forgiveness.
We'd apologize, saying we didn't know why
he wanted to test me, making kids throw bricks
at our brothers or tease us about my broken family,
We didn't know why he made our lullabies
the sound of breaking glass and fists,
didn't know why he let my teachers
lie about the kids at recess
and my parents deceive and hurt each other
leaving marks across my sister and brothers
until we didn't have a home anymore
and our house was just a case number
because he knew everything, right?

He saw every time my sister held me
when I was too scared to sleep,
saw my brothers
picking up the brick and throwing it back
and he saw me turning cheek after cheek
heard the clicking and beating
of my red rosary beads
and I was sure he had a lesson for me,
I just wasn’t looking hard enough.

So I looked. I searched Bibles and
books, chased strings between beads,
and it turns out I couldn't see the Grace
for the trees.
God was in the one place I'd thought
he'd forgotten about.

God was in my sister, letting me in her bed.
God was in my brothers, always standing up for me.
And God was in my parents too.
In my Mother, in the way she prayed so hard
and my Father, when he made pancakes
and over the sizzling of bacon, laughed
so you'd swear the whole house was shaking.

Though we handle each piece of our
broken home gingerly, minding our fingers
on the edges as we glue it back together
with forgiveness and awkward family dinners
ever aware of the skeletons in the corner,
I'm proud of being a Murphy.
Because we're a family.

We'll damn each other and save each other
with a love you can only describe as divinity.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Navy Pier

I grabbed you, noting how
the crosshatching of christmas lights
on your golden skin created contrast
between our hands, and squeezed.

My rings bit into my skin.

We ambled toward the city, dusk
deepening the shadows between our fingers
creating a canyon of black that
seemed to leak onto the boardwalk
leaving an inky trail behind us,
lost in the passing crowd.

Like we were melting.

Behind us the ferris wheel
oscillated while the distorted
reflections of children grinned
at the Lake from fun house mirrors,
farther away than the trail of
our ghost fingers, reaching,
could touch.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.
Your Daddy’s rich and your Momma’s good lookin’,
So, hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

It’s 99 degrees; I’m sitting on his knees
drinking to slow my mind, his hand on my thigh.
After I imbibe, he breathes, toking from a piece,
flame near his face despite the heat.
I call shotgun. Whiskey and weed.

We’re trying to devise
just how many vices
we need to mix.

I take a sip, he takes a hit.
Sooner than later, it’s lips,
rocking hips unable to tell
horizon, skin, or sin, where I
end and he begins.

Oh, Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.
I’m one hot bitch and you’re quite good lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Summertime, the days begin
Waking up in a pile of limbs
I dance with the street sweeper on the way
Back up Clark, singing to the beat
My feet make on the sidewalk.

After it’s dark, we’ll write
poems on the cells of our hands
holding, touching, searching each other
for one loose comma of inspiration tucked away
In the structure of our badly formed sentences
of fleshy psycho-babble,
our conversation defined by the monitor’s glow.

While Autumn hides in the hallway, biding her time.
Watching the seconds fall from the clock like auburn leaves
patiently putting Xs on the calendar we pretend not to see,
because she knows you’re not mine.

I should recognize the waning sun
Add up the differences and signs
But I don’t want to analyze,
So July creeps by, vices multiply.

They wanted me to go to rehab,
I said no, no no.
They wanted me to go to rehab,
I said I won’t go, go, go.

‘Cause it’s summertime, life’s good and easy
Fish are jumpin’ and somewhere a clock chimes,
We’re so far from rich, but still pretty fly
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Now August dawns with gold colored days
and the metallic smell of frost lingers in the dusk.
We start to fight. Find faults to put inches
back in, sleeping apart in the diminishing nights
we’ve still got left together, frigid in the wrong season
unable to weather the change.

My chest is filled with ticks, tocks instead of beats.
You’ve lost the heat you had for me.
We crumble under the weight of vice.
And it could be better, we could fix it.

But, we know don’t have the time.

So, I’ve got my pints and
You’ve got your pipes and either way,
we’re getting fucked tonight.

Summertime, the livin’ is easy,
fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.
Your daddy’s rich and your Momma’s good lookin’
so hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Don’t you ever, ever cry.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

-- ee cummings