Daily Archives: April 28, 2020


When your memory holds
a bed of nails
you never truly rest.

Once you think
you’re comfortable
a single adjustment

of your back
or even elbow
brings forth blood.

You get up and sit
by the window pretending
you are loved

as you try to wipe away
the red that only you
can see but which tints all.

It’s the middle of
the night. You’re trying
so hard. The bed

you wish you could use
is in the next room.
Coming from there

is a tiny sound
of sharpening. You’re alone,
or thought you were.

You don’t want to think
about who you’ve let in
to maintain the bed

while sitting up
worrying. Bleeding
isn’t supposed to be

an attractant
to anything but a shark,
or so you’ve been told,

but there you are
making tracks to the bedroom,
in case it’s anything else.

If it is a shark
you might die, but 
at least you’d forget why

it all went so 
bloody bad. How the nails
got there in the first place,

how many years you’ve been
trying to rest and just how bad
at that you have been.

Getting On My Nerves

Originally posted 2016. Revised.

Longing this morning
to trade back my boots
for the soft soles
I surrendered to get them.

I can’t feel the ground
when I walk in these.
Doctors try to tell me it’s
neuropathy from my diabetes.

They’re half right, I suspect;
certainly some shiny whiteness
is to blame and whether it’s the sugar
or the culture, it’s killing me

from the feeling parts up
to the thinking parts.
If I still had ancestors to ask about it
I would but they’re gone and they 

never knew me anyway. Maybe
it’s for the best that I’m numb
and becoming more numb the older
I get. Fewer things terrify me now.

I didn’t belong to those earlier times.
I don’t feel I belong in the ones we’re in now.
If I am afraid of anything anymore
it’s of finding a place where I truly fit in.

I still want to trade these hard boots
for the moccasins I had as a kid,
the moccasins people used to say
I should trade for the boots I wear now —

good tall boots made to hold you
separate from and untouched by earth,
the way it is these days;
even when you are put into that earth

they put you in a box
and that box goes into another box.
How is it right that even when I’m dead
I’ll have to lie forever in that tiny space?

Colonized in death as in life,
forbidden the right to return
to my own soil. It’s why I long
to trade my boots for moccasins

and walk away to find my own resting place
somewhere; if my feet burn
the whole way there, at least
that pain will be of my choosing.

Even if the grave I choose
turns out to have been dug from lies,
at least it will be mine. Any debate
over whether I belong there

will not be mine to argue.
I’ll decay and disappear 
like moccasins and boots do.
I’ll be as much of a myth one day

as I always knew I would be.
That’s the truth. I walk toward it
deliberately, my feet on fire
in boots not made for walking

or for feeling. I still feel
for now, if not as much
as I once did, which I guess 
is a bit of a blessing, anyway.