Sent to My Mom from the Emergency Cell Phone

The house behind a home
is where my father lived.
Every other weekend I began 
My mental catalogue of his most notable items
Again and again. 

A box of Crunch & Munch that never moved,
The curtain that partitioned the bathroom, 
A lead pole in the yard where
I swung around til’ my hands were covered
With white, papery, flakes. 

The peach tree with rotted fruit,
A too-nice television, probably stolen.
A framed photo of my parent’s wedding
My mother’s dress hid me perfectly.

A bookshelf warped by 100 CDs 
Crammed in every free space.
The faded, suede, green couch
With a loaded gun stuffed in the cushions.
The ripped out seats of his car resting in the backyard

Worn with bullet holes.
Downer Ending

If you drive along Route 522 
you may find yourself
slowing down into one lane
of cars backed up at a 
loner red light in the middle 
of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

My mother and I were taking my sister back
to her college town in Kent, Ohio
when we came to this screeching discovery. 
It was summer so the trees 
greened over the distant rolling hills.
The coffee house and candy shop
fused together along the main strip
with several other red brick structures.
It was only three fourths of a square mile
and yet it intoxicated us, fed us lotus petals. 

The stop light and speed limit forced 
travelers to gaze upon it’s charm.

Driving back and my mother and I 
had our eyes widened in anticipation 
of meeting this town again. 
Only it wasn’t the same town and 
these weren’t the same people.
They couldn’t be. 

Picket signs,
rebel flags, 
furrowed brows,
distant screams,
weapons of war.

The town was drowning in hate
like everywhere else. 
My mother spit out her lotus,
and pressed her foot harder against the gas pedal.

Weekend History Lessons

When I was five years old
I spent a lot of time on battlegrounds. 

Unlike most children of divorce
these weren’t metaphorical battlegrounds.
After the split my father initially moved
to Yorktown, Virginia. He needed
to be surrounded and drowned out
by the loud and unignorable history.

Soon enough he found himself dragging 
a plastic, red wagon with two little girls 
down to the battlefields at sunrise.
Eyes wide, his mouth shouted facts about the war
while his knees knocked against the dew coated grass.
Trying to find any semblance of an artifact, 
something to show us that could make us understand
why we needed to be there at that moment
why he needed to be there at that moment. 

I felt sorry for him
and the damp soil caked under his nails.
He was clawing through those fields 
looking for a new shiny thing
to put up on the mantle so maybe
just maybe, he wouldn’t miss the old shiny thing
that walked out with his children hanging from her arms.

So I spent a lot of time sitting on battlefields
on Saturday mornings before breakfast
hoping he would find anything
even if it was just a shell from musket.
He never did and later that year he left Yorktown
permanently disillusioned with weekend time wasted.
And we never spoke of it again.


Sitting on the edge
of a catamaran in Cozumel,
the glassy teal water rushes under 
the cargo-net where I’m resting my legs.
The playful waves kiss my calves 
as we sail through the ocean 
like a skipping rock
like my skipping heart beat.
My palms becoming sticky and 
gritty with a divine mix of 
sea salt,
suffocating humidity
and apprehension.

Fear is supposed to be conquered,
hurdled over like a pommel horse.
My fear is so juvenile.
My fear is so idiotic.

The boat sputters and sways to a stop,
our guide passing out gear to smiling faces.
Curious minds eager to experience the 
colorful unknown. 
I get caught up in the net as I stand 
to grab my goggles 
and snorkel
and fins.
I’m terrified of the open ocean,
always have been
but I dive into the dark azure.

My breathing is shallow,
and my feet have lost solid ground.
I shouldn’t be this afraid,
that’s what I tell myself.
As my guide shouts