I Hope You Saved the Receipt

You handed this to me
like the precious gift
I thought it was, once,
and I just don’t have it in me
to act surprised anymore
or delighted
or grateful
because I recognize that scruffy ribbon
tied around my heart
and the creases in that familiar and faded paper
match those in my face.
You keep giving me the same thing
expecting me to thrill
and it’s still too small,
still clashes with everything I am
and when you see my face fall
this time
it’s not that I’m disappointed in you,
but in myself for
recklessly believing it would be different
this time
No returns. Exchanges only.


Swaying to the broken music
of the porch swing
in a brown study of a moon
clouded red,
on its chin a quivering lip of white
pouting defiantly,
I marveled that our riotous rotating vessel
interposing itself jealously
between mother and father
was the cause of the gibbous shadowing
of her face,
and I wondered how often
do we stand stubbornly between the light
and the long view,
baffled and frightened by the darkness?

When Hecate Comes to Visit

An ornery and unpleasant auntie
she arrives
our relationship stone-in-shoe uncomfortable
I never know how long she’s going to stay
Unwelcome from the moment
she sneaks in
with a key I don’t recall providing
I make small talk
with microscopic movements I hope
approximate normalcy, whatever that is,
praying muscle memory serves
chanting a silent, desperate mantra:
go away go away go away
as she settles in too comfortably
in my favorite chair,
eating me out of house and hope.
“You never come to visit me,”
she accuses,
“so I had to come to you”
and I ponder whether there was a point
where I could’ve ignored the door
and slipped out the back
only to trip over her baggage
or is that mine?
“We need to talk about this,”
she says insistently
as I make myself busy with coffee spoons and
dust motes
aligning coasters at
angles obtuse
the only reckoning I can manage
in dark days and
desolate dreamless
nights that only grow longer
no longer at all certain
I will see the sun again today
I check my watch
and with dim hopes for tomorrow
as well
I protest that I have no room
for her to stay the night
“No matter—I brought it with me,”
she reassures me,
dread tightening my gut
as I go about turning on every light in the house
and I still can’t read
my own book
made indecipherable by shadow
I turn in, helpless,
and wait for the siege to end