Is the flush and gargle

of sand and seaweed

before resurfacing

…or not.


Monsters listened

Patiently as we said our prayers


For Mommy to leave a kiss on each cheek

Turn off the lights and pull the door shut behind her

Before creeping from their hiding spots—

They masked their footfalls in the settling of the attic;

Peered with bloodshot irises

from the glowing digital clock;

wheezed chill air down my neck

from Nana’s old electric fan

Still, I was more scared to fall asleep

Knowing then I’d be trapped alone in my imagination

The dungeon they called home


Windows to a world reverse

wherein She lives and dwells

entrapped behind a glass display

till someone breaks its spell

I look into Her eyes and glimpse

a longing to break free

and then I stop and catch my breath—

She’s looking back at me


First we separated them

According to color—

Yellow goes here

Red over there

Blue in this pile

—Before beginning to build

little neighborhoods

of matching houses


After lunch that day

Felicia told me that if I wanted to play

With her friends

I had to say I was Black—

If I didn’t share the same skin color or label

How could I possibly be one of them?


When their yellow-green bulbs

Began to flicker

You’d set us loose

Into the rust-tinged August

Dusk, armed

With eager hands and Mason jars

Mesmerized by their undulating

Glow and innocently unaware

Of the secrets a dark night can keep,

My oblivious bare feet tripped

Your senses:

“Stay in the yard, now”

And I’d reluctantly fall


Chins fist-propped on the lawn

We’d watch them strobe in clusters

Immured by that transparent boundary 

Against the soundtrack of cicadas and the creak

Of your porch swing

While you onlooked knowing

Soon they’d have to be set free


Dimpled hands shutter close

Over crinkle-clenched eyelids—



fingers bloom like morning glories

and eyelids like window shades

snap open

Each time startled to find

What I always knew was there


Mommy taught me how

To select fruit

Carefully, berries’ smooth, red skin

Unbroken – apples with florets tight

Showed me how to squeeze

Cantaloupes firmly at the base

To make sure they were fresh

And juicy



Across the produce aisle

The man in the Steeler’s baseball cap and white

t-shirt watched, waited

his turn to take advantage

of cherries new in season and melons ripe

for the picking


Past the willow drapes

And thicket screens

A humid womb

The drone of solitude

Ripples in the heat waves and

Algae like green doilies froth

The old pond’s surface

Peering into a patch

Of bare water, my reflection

Is misplaced somewhere

Among crushed Budlight cans

And a loveseat’s carcass

Here is the anti-oasis

Capsulated haven where time is

 but a concept, somewhere beyond

These uterine walls

The ocean rumble of highway traffic

Recalls the warble

Of Mommy’s screams and Daddy’s orders

And those before I had even emerged


before ballpoint pen

graffiti on bathroom stalls

there was my name

in pencil on pg. 37

of “ramona the pest”

and a tic tac toe-shaped scar

on nana’s cherrywood


even swaddled like a yolk

in my sack i had to leave

stretch marks

almost instinctive

the urge to impress

even if i do not last

i was Here


Smash these pieces, smash them


Grind them into particles too

Small to trample

Blow them, sneeze them, throw them


Than the dandelion seeds I used to love

To scatter like memories

In a wind that was never strong enough