My sincere appreciation to these editors who took the time to nominate these poems. Many thanks! JK
“Forward Motion Coaching”was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize by The Evansville Review.
Forward Motion Coaching
Mama says never to put on stripes, they make you look fatter than a chick still struggling from its egg. Mama says you should sit on the edges of benches to reduce your thighs, dimpled and lined by the spaces between the slats. Mama sighs when she catches you eating ice cream and chips, slaps the flesh of your underarm like a damp bed sheet on the line, filling slowly as a dry pump with the lumpy ghost of itself. She says she doesn’t know why she bothers, she gives up, you’ll have to live with your nature the way a pig lives with its snout, and why buy lipstick for livestock. You don’t say anything to Mama the night you wait for the bus going west on the old Route 9, sit up front right behind the driver, following the long pipes of headlights as if they are bamboo, hollow and lean, continually forcing back the fluid wall of dark.
“Voyage, Closed and Done” was nominated for a 2016 Best of the Net Award by One (Jacar Press).
Voyage, Closed and Done
The hijabs may hold off the sun
but they will not keep them afloat
should my hull, overfilled like rain barrels
in monsoon weather and trimmed
with tires that peel in machete-resistant
vines, keel too hard through ferry routes.
Under moons the width of rat tails,
they will trade the fishing nets
they sleep under for fences, tents and taunts,
and it is only smugglers, anesthetized
by prayer and paid with the succulent
currency of heritage, and their vessels,
sisters gilded with urine, who will ever return
to the bare, scalded bones of homelands.
“Anecdata” was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award by The Poet’s Billow, where it was runner-up for the 2015 Atlantis Award.
At first, Anonymous was a crack in the bark, identical
to the others running up and down the trunk of the tree.
Just by looking you couldn’t tell it apart: one smile
in a maze filled with mirth. At first, Anonymous was
a grain of rice, a kernel of wheat or corn, the hull
and the embryo, the bran and the germ, the horny
endorsperm and the pedicel. Anonymous was a flower
on a panicle that held thousands, where all but one would blow
away in a wind that had no bottom or top, it only had sideways,
the single remaining blossom a missionary, hanging
at the tip like a drop of semen, anticipating the anointment
of porcelain. At first, Anonymous was ceramic, stone, tile,
a bone, a pale sliver of spare rib curdled with back fat, bacon,
a hook to tie to a string that was so much stronger than it looked,
a totem to wrap around a limb, digging in, scarring it so the fruit
would be that much sweeter. An invention, it was a wheel
to carry the cart, to be manufactured in its own image
until Anonymous was as infinite as a galaxy, and as silent.
Then Anonymous never existed but will always live on,
the mother who did not give birth, the sister who is not
a sibling, the daughter never given life, the lover for whom
there had never been desire and no given reason why
but who fucked and got fucked in return. Then Anonymous
continued to march in place like a band practicing on the football
field after the players had left; Anonymous was the preen gland
on the tail of a duck, manufacturing oil to ward off the water
with the underside of a beak and keep the vessel afloat.
Later, Anonymous tried on a different body, a braver
face, a heavier moniker. Anonymous pointed a shaft, held up
a stiffer shield. And later, Establishment was accused. Who was
responsible? Not Anonymous. Later, Anonymous was hanging
by the tool belt, bumped off the wagon when the jailors
had their heads turned. Anonymous was sentenced to the electric
pencil sharpener for noncompliance, to the needle, inserted
like a pen, to the eraser. The choice amounted to what was
the quickest way to go when originally created by an echo?