Octopus vulgaris


I am Ursula

Ink between my legs

Boil-blurping skin like Kraft cream and plastic

pasta legs, sausage arm carved with every line

of my refusal, which I’ve channeled harmlessly through the tip of a pen

I thought was out of ink, but it is still three-quarters full. Harmless

straight lines, unintelligible black hearts and sharded stars

from far away, it will look like I was strong

enough to try to destroy this body

and escape myself. But

I haven’t. Why is it

that boys have cellos and girls have all curves?

When did everything get so hard? Yesterday

I coursed the piano like the river that jewels the desert in nuptial aqua

Today the notes use my head as a punching bag

and as thick, circling, too dizzy for my ear to track. I hear


but these voices of people who never

said anything, saying now,

you are the worst

girl in the world. You are curved wrong. Go

walk through a bread slicer, a metro tunnel too dark

to see the difference between the dark outside

and inside, written on your retinas

in harmless ink you could have used

for something more powerful.


Image captions and credits in order of appearance:

“It seems to dry the octopus in Shimotsui.” By Tatushin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14794815

Octopus at Kelly Tarlton’s.” By Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26297996

The Plastic Prince

I whiled my days in a jar of pennies

but if you asked me then

I would have told you I ventured far

on the nearness of a felt-tip pen

my steed, as it slumbered next to my jar

aching for the hand that warmed it

normally, telling my stories, forgetting my body

chained in copper, kissed by hundreds

of Presidents Lincoln,

but if you asked me then

I would have said I tamed a jungle

of roses, all entangled

and whispering the history

of the slithering grain

of the wood as it stood still

yet flowed, imperceptibly

perceptible under my plastic feet.

A writer who banked on glass

broke the bank

and set me free from the stillness

of the fairytale, and now I wish I was in it still

as I lie atop this sinking hill of pennies

oxidizing, realizing my escape

though forever clutching flight, lay immobile for all time

half-written, in the deserts of pages

buried under dreams

broken by awakenings.

But if you asked me then


Image by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Illustrazioni del Piccolo principe”., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53327195

Claustrophobia is





window allowing entry

to unknowns who skid or scooter

past in rain-sun, unknowing.


Claustrophobia is



the empress drowned in a bath of ugly



autumn pianos let me breathe, breathe, breathe down

the staircase (descending thirds? Pachelbel inversions?)

unlooking in eyes

pls dn’t look at me

b/c in the jacaranda parade

of applause, the summer trust-lines

between so-many-eyes I am

swept like stew in the storm of a spoon


walk the tight-

-rope of my sinews

nothing new


no one sees me

still i’m begging

no one

to not see








keep in touch

I keep

a coffin on the empty desk

beside my own in the sunstroked room –

blooms of tissue paper, the perfume of designer shoes

ghosts of what once voluptuoized within that cardboard earth, and the corpse-

white letters from all the wonderful people

who promise to write for a while

then forget altogether

they abandoned




“Balloon over Luxor, Egypt.” By Marcosleal derivative work: Pro2 (talk) – Balloon_over_Luxor_-_Egypt.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6564870

My heart is a bulimic


Something raspberry as lips

whispers into the gush

of my being.

Is it still being intellectual

when I swoon into the cloudbank of créole musics, burn my fingers

on the ink of a sigh

of a tenor’s attenuate tremble attaining the top flight of laughter

in the sky, he is pure and weightless because there is no pain

in the self, no fear

I have to dance en pointe on a frying pan between onions and

memories as they caramelize

in the eye that lives on after the glass and retinas

are supplanted

by black dearths window-

silling over cheekbone blush? And how is it

that I can croissant, red goozing out the hole in my head

when the pastry brush was an amputated starfish arm?

And how can I shiver in the sun of perfect

afterday and fear

the end of breath and what



a flip of the flat copper heart, an age on the price tag on my being,

being on the other side

of the glass that is unwanted

How can I fear balloons that would tug me into the sky

if sidewalkers below can see under my skirt for a minute

I’ll disappear soon, small as the moon, and never have

to confront them about it. How is it

that my name can be simmered down into a sweet

compote and spooned into the dreams

of my dreams’ drivers?

When is it precisely

(because i know it will be)

that this sweet crutch will crush down the drain and my body

with it

a spiderweb of cracks, a leg of lacks, lost

on the wrong side

of the glass

that is rejection

so very breakable?

And cream, there was whipped cream,

as well.


Image credits in order of appearance:

“This dessert buffet should be illegal.” By John Biehler from Port Coquitlam, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Cover image on the Music box by Polyphon-Musikwerke in Leipzig, Germany.” By Harke – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45714300




a blank room

full of treasures

starfish gaping from sparkled nail polish enclaves

sheet music like sails stranded along the floor, the mattress

a frozen sea stained by someone else’s tea. None of it

registers. This is



The laughter that rides birds’ wings in the sunset any better

off than me inside my window? Do the volleys carry stories over nets over sand

touched by sun? Does the music long to se faire aimée, to make itself

loved once more? Yet I

am as inanimate

a doll

with fused fingers

of plastic, molded around a leaden bouquet

as my lace heaviness sits  forever

on a shelf, closed

hands holding



Image credits in order of appearance:

“Matryoshka dolls in street fair – Budapest.” By Marcosleal – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5031740

“Doll from the collection of the Guildhall Museum in Rochester, Kent. Simon & Halbig doll  bisque head, with composition body.” Photograph by Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. (www.clemrutter.net). – I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license:Camera location51° 23′ 27.64″ N, 0° 30′ 10.33″ EView this and other nearby images on: OpenStreetMap – Google Earth, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36348171