A lake throws wasps like toys.

Little half-birds, little alien-and-gem mutts.


I live in the heat.

The sun is like a gold person.


I think tennis is two people hitting a large green pearl with guitars.









The smallest devil

is named Leukemia.


A red girl

in pigtails, black teeth, black eyes,

a smell like sugar burning.


Her pleasure is to turn blood white,

and for that she can be mistaken


for an angel.

Leukos, white, aima, blood.

Veins flow with milk.


Leukemia knows she’s a cow.

She laughs in her playhouse of bones.




What I remember

is my mother

trying to turn the milk to wine.


When you’re almost dead,

why not try your hand at god?


My mother wanted red blood,


and Leukemia, don’t you dare

make my mother’s deathbed silly,


don’t you dare call her vampire,

don’t you dare bald her and swell her,

don’t you dare ever to describe her—


So. My mother wanted blood.

Propped up in her hospice bed,


she ate steak after steak.

We fed her every bite,


and I was afraid she would choke.

My father said, It doesn’t matter now,


but it did. Who wants to die choking?

Who wants to die, period? She didn’t die choking


but she did die in pain, in fear,

and this is something


I can’t turn into something else.




When Aeneas tells Dido about the fall of Troy,


he says, Infandum, regina,

jubes renovare dolorem.


Queen, you order me to relive

unspeakable pain.


Infandum. Unspeakable. I was taking Latin in school

and the drama of the word appealed to me.


Around that time, my mother began

a rule called sobremesa.


It was mostly for my father

because after dinner, he always sprang up from the table

to whisk away dishes, to clean


while my sister and mother and I sat

hablando hablando hablando­


until one day my mother shouted,

Sobremesa! Around the table!


She wanted to take her time

eating with us, talking with us,


but my father never could stand to sit still.




In the moments before my mother died,

I was looking at a picture of the four of us.


Her breaths were guttural, with almost minutes in between,

and my father said, I’ve heard this sound before (when?

I’ve never asked him when), come here, tell her you love her.


We did, over and over,

and she died.


Right away, the hospice aid began to flush the morphine.

I remember watching her flush the pills,

and I remember thinking her urgency was rude.


Then I don’t remember anything


for days after that.


Years later, my father tells me


that he’d felt like he was trying to fight a fire,

calling doctors, trying to work, trying to comfort


the teeming terror of his daughters.

He got to watch our brains


burn like two blue flowers

that go permanently black


at the edges, he got to watch that,


but at least when she was sick he could do something.

After my mother died, there was nothing.

My father sat alone at a table. He didn’t talk.


He told no one.




Bedtime Stories


You are lying on the bed (no) There is a bed (good) There is a house (fine) Perhaps there is a bed inside the house (NO) There is a city (better) There is a person on a bed inside a house inside the city (stop it or) There was a place (yes) There was


The two beds in the room bond

as all beds do.

Every night they kick aside the weeping monsters

wrapped around their wooden legs.

Beds are not kind,

but I don’t blame them.

Here’s the story:

After the gods made chairs,

they began with beds. The gods fell in love with their art

and after a time became their art.

They slumped to the ground, asleep,

and the world was left to finish itself. 

The sky, forced to choose

from millions of birds for her hair every morning

blamed the beds.

The land arched her back against so many small feet

and didn’t know if she felt pleasure or pain.

The sea filled with salt

just to be filled with something,

and she blamed the beds

like her sisters.


Beds became a place

for bad things.

The last animal moments before death,

the death of someone that you love,

would you like to have those moments

play out against your skin?


Dream of that,

like the beds do.