You can’t love a ham. Luckily,
you notice the quilted quality
of its leathery skin looks a lot like
a certain iconic handbag. You can
wear a ham as a handbag.
You can’t love a kohlrabi.
In December, the only thing to eat
is kohlrabi, unless you hop
on its spaceship bulb and whiz
away to kohlrabi space.
You can’t love button mushrooms
while dropping a handful
of their still breathing bodies into
a brown paper bag, but the famous
photographer will take your picture.
You can’t love apples even though
they are there through the winter.
A poem with apples is a recipe
for big, biblical love. An apple,
even small, is a word for love.
You can’t love a city, pudgy
with people because empty of one
person it’s all fucking wrong.
Instead, I am a person who is very good
at making pancakes. There is always time
for pancakes. I wear the river well
and the people I love wave before they jump
from the bridge. It is easy to be almost alone
most of the time, even with all of the eye contact.
I wish that I was a country singer or a four year old,
so I could say simply that I hurt and I want
to go home. But here, there’s no blanket fort, no banjo.
In the vegetable light of the corner store, where
watermelons are labeled as red cabbages, I remember
the thing about misery: there’s always a more beautiful way
to say it. A bleeding bag of huckleberries—
a way, with words, to what we love.
A Cat Lady Knows
A cat lady does not mind when a half-frozen banana comes out of the skin and looks like shit. She can imagine, someday, compromising and having a kid. A cat lady takes a stand and just lets her hair go. Walking around with every woman’s worst fear on her head, a cat lady is prone to shed. If a cat lady could be one place other than the place she is, she would be anywhere. Anywhere in her early twenties when she didn’t pay for clothes, poor in a poor, gorgeous hole. Anywhere in the cow barn at the county fair, tucked away in the earth-ripe air. A cat lady would ride whatever she could get her hands on. She’ll find a burger stand on the side of the highway and make a life there.
Black Eyed Susan
A young couple is on the train.
He cuts her arm off at the elbow
with his hand, shaped
like a kindergarten karate chop.
In my life I have crushed
a grasshopper for the joy
of the crunch. There are
words for things like this:
for me, for the boy
and his gorgeous mimicry
of taking his beloved’s limb,
but—of course—the train
is very loud. Of course
there’s an old woman reading
a magazine in Polish
about wildflowers. I wonder which
is her darling, which one
she’d snip a bunch of and say
I really don’t know what I’ll do
with quite so much of you.
Drinking Before Noon in the Holy City
There are holes, like puddles made
more jumpable because you’re sure
they’re endless. Every country song
on the radio is about dirt roads
and being carefree so you start traveling
by horse-drawn carriage.
You go to the girl at the aquarium,
whose wonder at the starfish
is boundless. Day after day
when she points to the dark spot
at its center and says anus,
to a stranger standing on the other side
of the shallow pool, her awe is overwhelming.
You can understand focusing on one
perfect thing. There is a parking garage
built on the old Quaker cemetery. Call it
tithing, everyday you get a ticket to sit
in silence between two yellow lines.
You stare down at the asphalt, waiting
for it to open up.