Tuesday, April 24, 2018


"I was born here and I'll die here/against my will" --Bob Dylan
Borne by a yellow-black bitch and dark as a plum,
our cat tried to asphyxiate me,
but angels slipped me breaths 
disguised as fists.

I became the cellar fighter of the infant ward,
with a smile that peeled paint
and the ability to read minds.

I planted nightmares
with bone-breakers 
from the little perfect fingers of every thought.

Now, here I am on the street,
baking bricks on my tongue
and cursing up cathedrals where burger places sank.

Come to bed with me, woman,
here in the alley on my mattress barge.
I'm a woman too, under the bruises and fractures.

In the middle of the night,
my instincts will kick in and I'll thrash,
whipping and snapping like a downed wire--
I can't control it. 
I'll sorry you a dove from my prison cell. 

All I want
is to be arrested with my dogs under the Mann Act
while trying to die in the pansy garden
under the birch branches
in Michigan in the spring.

Custody can be mistaken for love. Can't it?
I'll straighten my fingers for the first time in my life,
crawl out from a crease in my target-face,
and pretend I'm some beauty
on the Mackinac Bridge
stepping over into the clean of the breeze.

for both Poets Of April and An Antic Disposition at Toads.


Susie Clevenger said...

Hell no, this isn't drivel! I don't even know where to start with favorite part. You punched me in the gut with your first lines. I'll just choose one part because it would be a long post to paste it all."I planted nightmares with bone-breakers from the little perfect fingers of every thought." Dang! Wow! Thanks so much for writing this and alerting me to it on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I'll be back .... later ... with a clear head.

L C Folks said...

Wow! GRITTY! very well done :-)

Sherry Marr said...

"Angels slipped me breaths disguised as fists." Wow! And "I'll sorry you a dove from my prison cell." You never cease to amaze.

Carrie Van Horn said...

I feel like I just went to a gripping movie, that I will be thinking on for days....breathtaking and scenes I could have never imagined on my own. You are epic in the poet world Shay!!!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Oh, that Dylan is hypnotic! And your poem is anything but.

a smile that peeled paint
and the ability to read minds

the little perfect fingers of every thought

the clean of the breeze

... and so on. Wonderful stuff!

Margaret said...

and pretend I'm some beauty
on the Mackinac Bridge
stepping over into the clean of the breeze.

you make it sound beautiful - many people have stepped "over" into that vast space from bridge to water surface.... I can barely drive OVER it without hyperventilating. Your poem thrills me - scars me - makes me petty and fear her. Why I have so many emotions reading this I don't know!

Margaret said...

scares me... makes me pitty (all thumbs typing today)

Brendan MacOdrum said...

The defiance here is Shakespearean -- a verbal abyss of self-aware refusal to ever go willingly into the Dark we preach as Modern Love. Unremitting, unwavering and unanswerable as Hamlet homeless in London, where there's no telling intemperance from disease. Where's our measure, our golden mean? Fools like this wander forever in the shadows of the word, and it takes an idiot to make the village true. Amen.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Ah, the cellar fighter returns in all her glory - a second wind, fists a-flying. Shazammmm!

annell said...

Your words are amazing!!

Kim Russell said...

There is so much in this poem, Shay, I have to taste it slowly and in little sips, coming back for more! I love the phrase 'angels slipped me breaths
disguised as fists' and the feistiness and defiance in he lines:
'I became the cellar fighter of the infant ward,
with a smile that peeled paint
and the ability to read minds' -
I'm sure I know a few children like that.
I think my favourite line has to be:
'I'm a woman too, under the bruises and fractures'.

hedgewitch said...

Even first thing in the morning with a relatively functioning brain I can't find the right words for this--they're all in the poem, which is another searchlight of the heart from you. Pain, yearning, scars and bars, superpowers are obviously needed, but the heroine's in a Greek tragedy, where all her gifts only seem to feed a flame that consumes her--who wouldn't want to be the one who is actually able to fly into the breeze and leave it behind? Another one that I hope you revisit and add to your 'best' list.

Mama Zen said...

When you make that turn with "Come to bed with me, woman" it is so musical and perfect. I love this one.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me, and sounds, and resonates for me, like I'm reading a memoir, written on the body, the soul - and more to the point, like I'm reading it in the voice of Ancient Spirit Guide, you know?

Like the indigenous peoples? With both the spirit and human sharing a conversation - a chronicle from first breath - but not yet last. The imagery is highly sophisticated, yet gritty for its elegance. Gut punching, and yet very subtly beautiful.

If one dares to deep dive, and see beyond just the obvious.

Definitely an extremely wrought piece, - I love it.