Pretty much the state of things 2017



A Response from Florida Woman. 

You think:
I am the high heel 


I am the tight top

I am the fleshy rolls

I am the smell of melting plastic and 

Forwarded stories of eaten faces. 

Truth is:

I am the bev nap

placed neatly underneath

the mojito you ordered.  

I am the clogs

choked with sand

that hustle those dunes 

getting your perfect,

neon drink

into your dismissive paw

I am Carl. I am Jim. I am 


I am not a rich kid, skipping class

beneath the comforting canopy

of waxy, white Magnolia. 

I am not bone dry under the impenetrable 

umbrella of Old Money. 

I do not miss the red line

or Middlesbrough 

or the soft hiss of snowflakes. 

I ask, as you sit here, white knuckling

Styrene pints,

if you would have attended a show

with a topic like 

“Michigan Man”

and sat around

drooling out stories about outsourced

livelihoods and babies nursing 

black water bottles. 

You think I am 


without talent. 

High on oxy contin. 

But I am steadfast, thick skinned as a

Spanish fort. 

I am staked by a mangrove spine. 

I nod. I laugh. 

You mistake the space I give. 

I am a shark turning a tightening circle

around your foreign, tourist hands

that snap pieces off of my

reefs to decorate your ten gallon

in New Jersey. 

I am the 35% 

of Florida residents

that were born here. 

The others? The rest?

We cannibalized. 

On restraint. 

I am not so stupid as to think
that there are words I
can say

to neutralize your hatred.
I imagine my name

is a razor blade

against your tongue.

I imagine

the memory of my taste

induces your gag reflex.

That your skin crawls.

That, with eyes closed,

if you were to describe me,

I’d be rendered in black strokes

that resemble

the spiders trapped on my


That my face is an eyeless oval.

Gapped fangs.

My ears, sharp and canine, pricked

forward are

My laugh, if it echoes in your mind:

Rabbits screaming, shattering windows.

My voice, just a memory of perpetual,

glass explosions.

The shards that collect

around your black boots,

are sets of jagged teeth that


and chase your retreat.

You’ve extended far too much credit.

I cannot recognize

that my actions have consequences.

You’ve been charitable if, in your mind,

my role in the slow-clicking reel

of your memory

is “Villain”.
I’m not an organized murderer.

I leave prints on the sills of windows.

My feet are bare and, tracking blood,

print sloppy, pointing arrows.
There are keys jingling, a clicking lock


I look up into soft eyes,


his expressions.
You think you have caught me.

You think you can cost me.
Your tunnel vision, so bent on revenge,
never even considered that I

looked around this crime scene

and decided

that I wanted you to get out


The absence of “read”. 

These unanswered texts have become my journal entries. You said that to me once. I write your phone and then copy and paste it into my journal. It’s a bastardized version of a quote by Cohen, my version- a ninety degree pivot:
“This is not the book I meant to read you when we were old”.
It is not, absolutely. My son is knee deep in Netflix, my company is kept by a beer, a twisted gut and the rising tide of anxiety I feel, an acid burn of bile in my throat.
I bought him a heap of school clothes today. Desperate for something tangible that proves my fitness as a parent. Polo shirts. Penny loafers. Shorts with pleats. Preppy clothes that pass through the mind of his school mates, completely neutral. Nothing the teeth of a cruel child could sink into.
I dress him like we are still in Boston, whereas I have reverted to my cowboy boots and short shorts and weird rural/indie/punky vibe. I’m stripping my hair Saturday, bright like a penny. I found fake gauges I wear in my ears. I’m thin as a willow tree, and I whip branches in strong wind, slinging leaves to and fro. I scatter blooms. I am desperate to at least resemble a completely different person. I’m considering a tattoo. When in Rome, I reckon?
I gardened, manically, for a bit, a few months ago and my frantic efforts have come to fruition. Sunflowers with heavy heads, a pot of cilantro – straining towards the sun. The trellises that flank my front door are covered with black-eyed-susan vines. Fully six feet tall, thick with blooms. On the ledge of the jalousie windows in my bedroom the same susan vines drape towards the floor, a pot every two feet. In a few months they will bloom and my room will be flanked by flowers.
A funeral home for my prone, perpetually-exhausted form. Fitting. Accurate.
My only child will be gone from my house on the 12th of August. School is starting and our ritual: breakfast-lunch-dinner will leave with him. The quiet, comforting grind of full-time parenting will expire.
Second beer now. Smoking in the house as I’m still in this sweeping vintage night dress. It’s noon now, lunch will be late.
For the first time in weeks the heat index might drop below 105, as the thunderstorms burn the clouds black. Our dog is barking at the neighbors. My son’s black cat is lithe as he stalks the tumbleweeds of her shedding puppy coat.
It is Wednesday, I am in a town I swore I’d never return to, and my eyes roll skyward, as I anticipate a storm.