What a Medicated Migraine Looks Like, Sometimes

Day of the Dead

I don’t know what to do
With this sugar skull
Lord Zolmitriptan left in my doorway
Bring it inside for my tea
Or leave for the rain to dissolve away

It’s trying to be friendly
But doesn’t know how
Turkish blue
and orange grinning
like it knows me

It doesn’t understand why
I don’t want it here
It will have to settle
for the friendship
Of  ants

This is kind of what it looked like.  Courtesy of http://www.tattoostime.com

This is kind of what it looked like. Courtesy of http://www.tattoostime.com

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I Didn’t Think of Myself as a Feminist

I didn’t think of myself
as a feminist


My mom did not think of herself
as a feminist in the 80s
when she went back to Kent State
to work on a Master’s and
left me
at home two nights a week
to cook dinner for my father

After a few weeks
perhaps a month
that he was sick of Oven Fry baked chicken
and spaghetti
(the two things
I knew
how to cook) and
he “let” her work outside the house
and her job
was to take care of him (no mention
of me or my younger sister, her dark eyes
wide beside mine in the dim stairwell)

(no mention of his responsibility to us except
his paycheck
“I make the money I call the shots”
he said that)

Later I turn on the oven
after my mom has left
for her night class
and I stand at the sink with a knife

slicing slimy skin off chicken breasts

I don’t think of this until years later
and my new self turns
on this memory of my father
in a fury and yells

You don’t like it? Fix your own fucking dinner you ungrateful

and I stop here because the words I want to shout





are all wound up in a new consciousness of language and

I can’t think of any





that carry the kind of destructive punch I need to land


The now-me has sorted through the garbage
is sorting through the garbage
but the kid-me just works on the chicken

and stares out the window through blurry eyes

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Meltdown: Poet as Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X

Can’t breathe anymore no sleep perchance to dream
screaming inside out pop-eyed dangling on the edge
of chairs clutching white-knuckled like flying

Some say the end is near trapped behind something
like pipes underground flattened scraped
watery gravesite marked by waves

Calliope drives the carousel faster aging
wrinkled breasts sagging ass dragging fatter
than the Boteros on the Champs-Elysees

Sad shabby hurdy-gurdy plays for us
at the St. Germain des Pres Metro his cat and dog
leashed lounging in piles of rags

Trapped in the Pont au Change for a dead man sheeted
surrounded by uniforms incurious faces and the smell
runny limburger cheese on the front porch it’s a shame

Shame we know while your trammeled heart flutters
like wet wings a goldfish in fresh air mute open and close
unable to matter much

Greek waiters smash white plates on Rue de la Huchette
angry homeless woman screams grey hair knotted both of us
caught in a squall and lost the map home

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On the Towpath

On the Towpath

Black cinders crunch under
eight hooves in steady 1-2
Queen Anne’s lace and ironweed
along the remnants of the Erie Canal
My mother rides point on the palomino
and my pony’s short legs churn to keep up
past the crickets singing in the ditch
and the Jaite Paper Mill workers waving
from the concrete dock

The noon whistle chases us past
the aerators in the mill ponds
and a nod from my mom  tells me
to gather my reins for a gallop
to settle and grip and whoop

A blur of cream and gold hindquarters
and speed through the undeniable green of summer

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It’s Not Derrida

In the Hollow

Through a heavy eucalyptus evening
past a woman who clucks over places
where aphids have made lace of her roses

Some holes you can see: a child burying
her sister’s Barbie in a sandbox
or a ’78 Monte Carlo with Mad Max
pockmarks left by a Tec-9
or places where asphalt is backhoed
into chunks

None of these are the kind of absence
that has presence
like the acid of other peoples’ happiness
the kind of absence like cheesecloth
stretched to catch dust from the furnace
in winter

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On Illness, No. 1

My pain is a blunt-toothed dragon
one of those Chinese lion-heads
whose gaping maw grasps my right hip
not tearing, exactly, more just holding on
tail wrapped around my waist just tight
enough that it doesn’t dislodge the scorpion
sleeping above my lower spine.

One slip and its stinger stabs lightning
down my leg pinned to the floor
afraid to move again until they sleep
Until they curl up again and close their eyes
close my eyes and pray to empty space
pray to the Gods
Cyclobenzaprine Tramadol Zolmitriptan Verapamil
and the Goddess Ambien for sleep
my sleep and theirs

Draft 21 April 2015

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It’s Been Rejected, But I Still Like It

Checked Out

Frank presents me with a long strip of paper
like a register receipt or a fax, shiny

and slippery over my fingers.
A long straight line for six inches

until there’s a bump like a hiccup
followed by another, then another, a whole series

of hiccups: “That’s where I started CPR–
He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.”

The undulations continue down the strip and some
have jagged edges or flat tops like mesas:

“Somebody touched him.” “We intubated him.”
Frank’s expression reminds me of my cat

when she kills some small animal and leaves
it on the breezeway step.

The paper slithers along the hardwood
and I picture Frank, arms pumping steadily

bright fluorescence bouncing off trauma glasses. The line levels off
at the ragged right edge of the paper: “We called him.”

I hold between my index finger
and right thumb the record of the end of a man’s life

while jazz (Miles? Coltrane?) floats in the background and
sweet corn bubbles brightly on the stove.

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