you just can’t.
When the wound is too deep.
When the love is too strong.
When the bend becomes a break.

Then, other times,
you devour the whole beast.
Eat all flesh.
Tear apart sinew.
Suck marrow.
Save fat for later.

I drew a blank for six months,
while all the flags were drooping emblems
constantly at half-staff,
wilting among thoughts and prayers.
Even after warm bodies gone cold.
Headstones and ashes.

you return and remember.
The time your fingers tickled the pages.
The time we laughed until we bled.
The time we sighed, chests heavy.
The time the world turned around again

and the thrum of life moved on.


I came of age in the era
of argyle socks
and plaid shirts
stolen from your father’s closet.

We stopped before school
to fill Super Big Gulp cups
with frothy Orange Bang!
which we kept in our lockers all day.

We didn’t realize
that MTV would soon cease
to be music television
and would peddle us “Jersey Shore”.

There was no comprehension
of intrawebs and internets,
and the smart phones
our children gobble up like Candy Crush.

I think about the pivotal moment
when he filled three pages of my yearbook
with a break-up message
that I didn’t fully comprehend until age 38.

I sometimes remember
the way he smelled like Play-Doh
and combed his hands
through my wet hair.

Then I wander to the artist
with the wire-framed glasses
who tasted like Budweiser
and smelled like paint thinner.

They tell us not to look back,
but they also say if you don’t examine the past
you’re doomed to repeat it.
So which is it, huh?


The summer the Idaho potato fields
lay spread out before us
and the world was ours for the taking,
we met the tall one in the mall parking lot.
There were no smart phones or Google maps.
We didn’t even have a paper map.
Talking Heads was on the radio
and it was the summer before our senior year.
I should have had sights set on the dark-headed boy,
with the slight lisp and sincere eyes.
Instead, my focus was
the broken-hearted, harder to crack veneer.
He’d been my mission since day one.
We spent inordinate amounts of time
in his basement that trip:
listening to music,
making each other laugh,
cuddling on his water bed.
We didn’t know where his parents were,
and we didn’t ask.
Even though it was innocuous,
it felt like we were pushing boundaries.
Doing something daring.

We went ice blocking down Simplot hill,
a vast swath of property in the midst of Boise
with a mansion perched atop.
A city conquered.
Security must have been lax,
because the more we slid down the hill
with our hair flying behind us,
and the more trees we climbed,
the freer we felt.
No sign of a reprimand.

The river flowed around us seamlessly.
Our inner-tubes bobbed along,
like Halloween party apples in a bucket.
But there was an unspoken surface tension,
that I mistook as the thrill of being on the river.
Your first kiss
should have been with someone better,
someone who didn’t claim to be “rebounding.”
Knowing the situation now,
the pictures speak volumes.
I often think about the innocence
of being oblivious
and frequently wish that was
a more recurrent state of mine.


Recalling the person I was
all those lifetimes ago,
holding the red Solo cup
surely sloshing a sweet liquor
I would regret consuming
the next morning.

You chased me.
I allowed the pursuit,
confused in my teenage brain
about where I belonged among
the Mormon-pioneer-ancestor

At the behest of my parents,
we married (living in sin is a sin).
They paid for the Vegas wedding,
but did not attend.
Probably best that way.
We wore vampire fangs,
because it was Halloween.
My dress was a paisley-print velvet material
and my feet blistered
from wearing dull-but-new Mary Jane shoes.

It feels like yesterday and 20 years ago
and all those lifetimes ago.
You didn’t have a lot to offer.
Your mom never read to you when you were little.
You’d done drugs and dealt drugs
and drank and drank and drank.
We lived in an 8×8 foot room,
mis-matched dressers stacked on top of each other.
Mis-matched desires trying to stoke the same fire.

All those lifetimes ago,
you told me you wouldn’t be able to get anyone pregnant.
Said you’d taken a steel-toed boot to the groin.
Within two weeks of casting aside my prescription,
I was growing a life.
The only productive, worthwhile thing that resulted
from our broken-down, wrecked-18-wheeler of a marriage.

It always felt like full-speed ahead,
because we will die someday?
If we don’t drink this case of beer now, who will?
It was a hostage situation —
me being held by the Insane Clown Posse and their juggalos.
You were never home,
and when you were, you weren’t present.
I missed my Granny’s 85-birthday party,
because you didn’t want to make the 70-minute drive.

Time slowed when you left.
I was glad to grab every inch of the sanity,
and give myself a few miles of this final lifetime.


You dropped words
heavy on me,
a fancy paperweight
from a forgotten vacation;
a rapper’s lyrics
so salty and stained
that spittle flies
when they are spoken.

You cried for a few minutes,
as incomprehensible verbalization
poured from your wicked mouth
like wet cement —
all the while, not understanding
the depth of what you’d done —
the final check mate move
you had initiated.

I ran outside,
for fear of suffocation,
with my brain a swirl
of reds and grays.
The cotton was thick
on the patio that summer,
dense as Utah’s dark, snowy winters.

I should have been
smiling into the sun
as I pedaled my bike
past the gurgling river,
but my mouth tasted
like I had swallowed sand
and it had collected
at the back of my throat.

That was when I realized
you were leaving.
I was a burden.
You felt saddled by me.
You needed some newer,
fresher horizon.

Now whenever I see cottonwood trees
shedding their seed,
I think of that July weekend,
my sandpaper throat,
and how you closed the door





Mr. Brooks smells like love
on a Saturday morning.
Love and passion fruit,
sweet with juice to dribble
and dark seeds.

Spreading himself too thin
jam or preserves…
she doesn’t deserve
him at all.
He gets hot when she smiles.

He barks, she bites
and which is stronger?
This bond is broken,
taking with it…dreams

of California’s ocean side
and a thin-lipped smile
which is never wide enough
to drive you home,
Mr. Brooks.


Once he struggled to find himself and he told me about it. He had always written poetry and love songs, but refrained from sharing them. He was usually toying with my mind and when I was in a good mood I let him toy with my heart too.

I never really told him how much I hated life or how I felt about him. He said I always looked happy. I knew I had decided to like chocolate brown eyes and humor, instead of long hair and science fiction. I swore myself to secrecy on that one.

Sometimes, I watched midnight movies and thought about him. Then I would stay awake listening to Abbey Road. He liked to go to bed early and always seemed drowsy if I called past 10:00. I tried to avoid late-night conversations for fear I might say something I didn’t truly mean.

So tonight I lie awake because when he dropped me off, I told him I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. He said he’d go home and dream quickly. Then I wondered if he snores and if he would wear his navy blue slippers when he gets up in the morning.


I feel sorry for the non-writers.
Those who are unable
to let words flow easily
from pen to page,
from fingers to keyboard.
I can’t imagine that wasteland…
that inability to convey.
I was rarely told I talked too much,
for most of my time was spent
dreaming up poetry.

I would sit in the comfort
of my best friend’s bedroom
and wait for her to get home
from a track meet or work.
I’d easily create a poem
about our latest happenings.
I’d drip our heartaches,
our good times,
the trials of life,
and our latest crushes
while sitting at the old, wooden desk
in the attic overlooking the mountains.

My boyfriend stopped wanting to see me,
the summer before my senior year in high school.
He was headed to the onion fields of Walla Walla.
He never officially ended it,
but instead of the promised puppy,
he gave me a t-shirt for my birthday in July.
The t-shirt was indescript,
a cotton blend, mauve color with a pocket.
I wrote about it.
I read my poems about him
for most of the next year
in our creative writing class.
None of the words were his name,
but everyone knew,
everyone knew my writing was about him.

I feel sympathy for the non-writers.
Those who live in the wordless wasteland.
Those who lock up the pain, joy, and fear
of a yesterday from which they cannot escape.


We started off
the wrong way.
You were dating
the homely-looking brunette
who worked at the Chevron station.
She often handed me
my 49 cent, 64 ounce Diet Coke
at the drive-thru in the mornings.
With Utah’s bitter winters,
many of the gas stations
have drive-thru windows.
Something I always found odd,
just one more awkward encounter.

After the first time
your stony eyes squinted at me
in Mike’s front yard,
you wouldn’t give up
at the thought of us.
I made the mistake
of borrowing my roommate’s
too-tight, purple, velvet top
to wear to a party at your brother’s house.
It was all over after that.

Her chapstick and hair ties
were on your nightstand
the first time I visited  —
a reminder that I was an intruder.

The Chevron girl
would cruise the streets,
looking for your truck,
and stop if she saw it parked out front,
demanding to be let in —
her heavy feet descending the basement stairs
as we pretended there was no impropriety.

I should have known
it wasn’t a sustainable relationship
when you threatened
to take a bat
to a car window,
because someone had supposedly spoken ill
of your soon to be ex-sister-in-law.
(She was a wretched human!)

when you’re in too deep,
you have to think just to breathe,
and even when leaving would be best,
it’s envisioned as limb severance.

The day we drove to Vegas,
you told me if we had kids together,
and they ever thought about doing drugs,
you would just explain the various effects
so they would know what they were getting into.
You never learned how to be a parent.
No one ever read Dr. Seuss to you.

As we walked to the chapel that night,
an old man tripped on a crack
in the sidewalk near the hotel,
and I heard his kneecaps shatter
against the pavement.
I was horrified at his pain,
and even more so when you laughed
at his cries.

I should have run then,
taken off my blister-rendering Mary Janes
and acted like it was a barefoot marathon.
I could have jogged through the night,
into the sunrise,
and back to a life less soul-sucking.


I was genuinely pissed at him
through the majority
of August.
But isn’t that the way
when you have a
burn for someone
and they can’t return it?

My heart jumps
in front of my head.
Just like my fingers
when they type.>>>!#$

If you’re the first one
to make sense of this,
clue me in.
Don’t drop subtle hints.
Make it blatant.
That’s the only way
I can take it.
Raise your hand.
I’ll call on you.
Then you can deliver
the news.

My friends tell me
I should find a publisher
for this garbage.
If you dig through the
bin long enough,
you’ll find it at the bottom.
It’s possible that it belongs
in the incinerator.
Along with thoughts
I had of anything
ever working out
in my favor.