The Fall of Icarus
If I had wax wings
and learned to fly,
I’d put my face to the sun
and touch the sky.
If you had wax wings
you’d be falling down,
blinded by the sun
into the water to drown.
And if I did fall,
all would stare in awe
at the boy in the sky
who everyone saw.
When you fall,
I am the only one who does see
I know all people die
for wanting to be free.
Is this what I get
for reaching for the stars:
A glorious death
for trying to be free of bars?
Do you have any regrets,
little boy with wax wings:
Do you wish for death
amidst all these bad things?
Maybe it was a mistake.
I shouldn’t have flown so high.
Now I’m left with the fishes,
afraid of the sky.
I think I’ve made a mistake.
I should be more like you.
Make more wishes,
and touch the sun too.
And all I can hear
Can anybody save us?
My father's voice in my ear
Touch the sun!
Let us shed our skins and dance
with our jittery bones and pumping organs
beneath the light of God’s false eye.
Let us braid each other’s hair
and kiss our thin lips together in prayer,
for I pray only to you, to you
and the water in your eyes.
Our skin is too thin; let us be
snakes. Let us wrap our bodies
like tide pools ‘round each other and
twist until there’s nothing left of us
but seashells and wet sand. Let us
be snakes and uncoil. Let us
be snakes and tempt each other
from heaven with the promise of
Your hands are no bigger than mine.
Our lips are the same painted red.
And I can see your heart caged behind your white
cracked bones holding out its hands for me.
Dance with me through this languid air. Let us
dance as the wind carries away our skin like
two ethereal projections searching for a
single fine word. Let us kiss and fold and
tumble. Let us unstitch and re-sew, let us
write each other with poetry. And let us
become, my love, let us become.
Taste my apple lips and I’ll kiss your snake-like skin.
Braid your long brown hair with mine.
Let us kiss like lovers and let us combine like lovers
beneath the light of God’s false eye.
My Mother and Our Everyday Extremes
There was a kind of mint
that freezer-burned my nose.
Anything that freezer-burns a person's nose
might be avoided,
but much as I'd choke on cinnamon-y candy,
I'd freezer-burn my nose
to the ninth circle of Hell and back
and yet my heart would be in Heaven,
and my mom, rooted in the Earth,
would shake her head and smile.
I didn't know how to wrestle with my paranoia,
the way a backpacker
doesn't know how to wrestle a brown bear,
only to avoid one.
When ghost stories pitched fear at my heart,
I'd hide till the marigold sun came
and hit it soaring past the horizon.
My silence kept quiet her suspicion.
My mom would dread my shoe choice,
always tell me "you shouldn't wear those,"
not because I'd cover my feet with dirt-splattered black leather,
and the Old Gods know I'd never wear gaudy, bedazzled, blinding things,
but I'd tread a rocky drive in four-inch wedges
or a walk a snowy one in loose flip-flops,
toes pink and barely swollen,
and say "This feels nice," and laugh
without a lie.
My hair liked to play like spaniel dog ears,
especially in middle school when it reached down my back,
and it liked to be blonde,
back when I enjoyed the company of the sun.
Oh how it's changed,
and almost-browns dyed blue,
and every time my mom gushes over it.
There was a kind of mint that freezer-burned my nose,
but my nose is stronger now,
and my mom across too many state borders
to shake her head.
Our walls were made of cheese dotted with red tomato paintings
and our couches were jalapenos,
and maybe that would have tasted better
than it sounds like it looks,
but I promise my mom
did not belong in an asylum.
Just a studio.
The stereo and the vacuum
contested for noisiest
every cleaning day
when my mother would ensure the stereo won
and its victory would sing
to my room,
out the open doors,
and down the drive.
We never did get a noise complaint.
All my patterned dresses,
come high school, were striped.
She'd coax me into wearing something else,
but polka dots were little stab wounds
and cheetah prints had diseased growths
and plaid was like someone had grilled me well,
and if I were to die by my patterns,
I'd die by the badass
slash of a sword.
I never told her this,
but I still put on stripes.
Winter had cast the world
in steels and sulfurs.
When we emerged from our county's only Walmart
our windshield had been replaced
by a sheet of ice,
and we were bold and cold
and drove home
with a lighter-melted patch
and a near swerve-into-ditch.