Tag Archives: family

Not Kids

“Hi, kids,”

is how I greet the cats
this morning
while threading my way
between their passive-
aggressive body thrusts
against my legs as I 
try to get to the bathroom
before feeding them, my priorities
not focused on their needs
right now, leading them
to decide I must be
shrooming or something
to be so out of touch
with the nature of reality as to put
my urgent need before theirs.

By which I mean to say
that I do not subscribe 
to the notion that pets are kids
for all of us childless people
of the world, and that I am glad
these two
are direct and gentle enough
in their opinion of me
not to force the point so far
as to carve me with their claws
or make me trip and fall
until I cave in and feed them
before I can get to where I need to go,
later to crumble in shame and fury
simply because I must put myself first at times,
and I am forced again and again
to understand that is not allowed.

It tells me that I did not absorb
all the lessons of my family
and transfer them to how I love
these two. 

Berry Father

The first thing I see this morning:
photo of a graveyard.

Two stones stand out
more clearly than the others. On one,

the word “Berry.”
On the other, “Father.” I tell myself

it’s a portent of how
the day will go, that this is how

today is going to be:
random messages, written in stone,

any meaning to be drawn forth
by the viewer who right now

is seeing one sweet word,
one less so, and nodding his head.

These Are My People

I came back
to my house
before dark

after a day of being on fire and taking fire
from the people I’ve been told
I descend from.

Told by a lit match
to watch my
short fuse,

I think about
the long trail of sparks
stretching behind me.

Dark or light
I suppose
they are my family,

enraged or at peace although
they are more light when enraged,
more dark when at peace.

Meet the Reversal Family, the
inside-out clan. No one
can be happy unless all

are circling the drain
or the bonfire. Straight-up
equilibrium — everyone

minding themselves,
their business, helping
the others as needed? No need.

No one in the Reversal Family
needs anything except
the misery of the others.

and if you don’t share that you must be adopted,
alien, crazy, or free,
but you don’t get to choose.

Once home I try to forget
my allegedly short fuse and
that actual long trail of burning behind me

but I can smell it
in my sleep.
Everyone can.

“Boy Genius”

you hurl “boy genius” at me
like it might still be the dagger
it was when I was young

nowadays it’s more of a big stone club
I don’t bleed as much at once
but there’s so much more broken inside

back then it felt like unalloyed jealousy
now I get the aftertaste of carnival
with a note of freakshow — so you should know

that “boy genius” hasn’t worked out so well
it’s been a lot like walking the carnival ground
after it’s gone and trying to stop a memory

of ghost bells and whistles
and undead cheesy organ tunes
from smothering me

when you use those words like that
I see your loathing and raise you tenfold
putting all of my own into the pot

knowing that
like all good carnival games
this one’s rigged

S#$% My Mom Says

When she says
“come home sooner rather than later”
it means “come at your own convenience
but do not forget
to take mine into account
as you decide
what that is.”

When she says
“do you understand, or do you?”
it means “whether you do or do not
understand, there is no way
you will wriggle out
of behaving as if you do
whether or not you ever do.”

When she says
“I guess she’s pretty enough”
it means “she’s lovely, but
I don’t like
your attraction
to her.”

When she says
“it doesn’t matter to me”
it means
it does. 

When she says
“you can do what you like”
it means “what you like
will likely be
the death of all your doing.”

When she says nothing
it is a filibuster.

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