NaPoMo 13 – Taharah


Once you have washed the dead you cannot unwash
the knowing — how scars, decades old, grow dull but don’t 
grow soft how ports and catheters leak and seep how liquids clear or 
cloudy or yellow may be discarded but liquids red or pink are part
of the life of the body and must be added to the bag for burial, a myth
I do not believe About the resurrection of the body shaping a ritual 
I faithfully  follow which is hardly a contradiction for what of death
is rational? What brain can comprehend the moment 
of its own end?

In the basement of this funeral home on this table where we
operate the question of life or death has been resolved so we
who never have to hold out hope can know surgery for the trauma
to the body that it is and worry only about how to clean up in its
bloody weeping seeping stitched up wake. Which bandages do we 
dare remove which tape can be untaped which stitches must we
the Washers not wash for fear of what might flow?

Yet what we do now is so barely different, in the basement
of death or death decisions. We study the body what it can take
and what it cannot. Our judgments follow preserving only the body’s
dignity, a luxury of our location in the American production line between healthy and dead. And after we wash and dry and bless
we dress the body in white linen garments, clothes
whose seams are loosely stitched for they will never have to hold
up to the stresses of serving the living, pants with leg
bottoms sewn shut, with a belt of fragile fraying cloth tied
in a knot so loose a single breath in and out would be 
its undoing, a shirt so large and open so low it refuses to hide
the violent slice down the length of this chest,
still flecked with blood, too delicate to wash, the surgical threads loosely stitched for they will never have to hold up to
the stresses of serving the living, tied off in knots so loose
a single breath in and out would have been their undoing,
and finally the long kittle tunic, mercifully shut
so I no longer have to see the slice, the seams, the broken heart behind the fragility of the knots,
and the closing of the covering  of the linen sheet, the final
bandaging of the soul, the mark of the end of our procedure.

Tahorah hi / she is pure
Tahor hu  / he is pure
Tahorim / we are pure


NaPoMo 10 – Grooming


I love to pick my nose

And I know I’m not alone I see you
At traffic lights and in the office across the alley

How liberating to peel a crusty shield
from its choke-hold on the moist mucous membrane of
my delicate nose, or in the midst of a dry dry winter to put
a finger pad against my septal cartilage and push and bend it enough
to pull away a single vast scab, dry up top,
thick and damp and bloodied below adhered now
to my finger where I stare at it and begin to breathe again
and wish I could share the wonder of
this product of my own sacred body

But  oh! The civilized revulsion 
of basic body functions,
civilized–as in the cultre of rape and pillage and plunder that washed ashore
In every land the Europeans coud reach by boat–
If i could unculture myself I could clean my ass with my own left hand rather than
requiring the death of ecosystems to protect my privileged palms

If only we could wipe away our fears of our embodied bodies 
how could we then snuggle in with the members of our tribes,
our herds, our flocks, our troops, our packs
and sniff and stroke and lick and pick, unashamed and 
unabashably, and fall asleep clean within
the nest of our animal selves

NaPoMo 8 – Hang on, baby

Hang on, baby
Sickness has made you understand time has its limits. Carlos Raul Dufflar

Sickness has made you understand
time has its limits
Your sickness has made me
understand time
has its limits, its indignities
its imperialisms

understand the violent unending insult
in my assurance hang on baby
just hang on with no intention of even
pretending to know the measure
of the expanse of time I expect
you to go on grasping grasping
for time’s limit

NaPoMo 7 – Wind

Click here to see this poem with the proper lines and spacing Wind


The long and winding road
winding winds all the way to
unwind all the way to
winds blow, blow winds blow
      ye merry lassies
      get your brooms get ‘em out
      we’ll ride the wind tonight

Ride the windup
ride the winding wind
all the way to
unwind rewind dewind     upwind of
the Salem      downwind of
Three Mile Island      the wind here
will be toxic no matter

which way it winds      wind, wind, windup
this great global clock, winddown
the revving of a billion engines winding up to
pillage ten billion acres, poison black sludge winding
down to the river to the sea where winding winds blow
it all the way to me

where I’ll close the window against the wind,
wind my way down the stairs to watch the weather
channel and wonder whether today I am downwind
or upwind of the poisons riding their winding winds

Winding wind, blow me blow me blow me away
         away ye merry lassies
         get your brooms get’em out
         we’ll rind the wind tonight

NaPoMo 6 – Words in My World: NPR

Overheard on NPR today, the phrase “prosecute pedophile priests.” And who could not, in that moment of the alliterating P’s, hear this?

The Vatican protects a pack of pedophile priests
A pack of priestly pedophiles the Vatican protects.
If the Vatican protects a pack of pedophile priests,
How many Popes have preyed among the priestly pedophiles?

NaPoMo #5 – At 12 years old it 12 days to find/her body in the dumpster


At 12 years old it took 12 days to find
her body in the dumpster. 12 times
she’d texted him; he said he’d sell her, cheap,
new gears for her BMX bike. The details of what he did
are none of your business. Death is more than the pornography of the coroner’s
after the first commercial break of every CSI episode. What I care about is
that bike, that girl on that bike, that girl who loved
the speed and the dust and who couldn’t conceive that a boy offering parts
didn’t care about the bike, not even enough
to hide it well. She loved that bike. Is it possible she knows
         he didn’t break
       didn’t harm
that her father cleaned it carefully and hung it on the pegs in her room, adorned
with her gloves and knee pads? No helmet hanging there yet;
the electric blue one she always wore on her head,
which they keep trying to force me to
       bury her

What I care about is not her death,
but his. It haunts me, how he died. How her bike, tossed into
a woodchipper, became a half million splinters of steel, how I bought
a bamboo tube just long enough at the garden store, how I texted him the
     offer of
a blow job—Ha!—and then gave him one, tying his wrists, ripping down his
     pants, blowing
those splinters hard into his penis, his balls and how when
     the blood flowed
it occurred to me that her blood might have been also once there so how I
cut it off, how I hooked the tube to an air compressor and how the steel
     fragments sank
so easily into his belly, his chest, his neck, his face. How I considered,
     before he died,
shoving his own porcupine of a penis into his own ass, but didn’t because
I couldn’t figure out the logistics of its limpness.

What I care about is how this doesn’t bring her back and how now her bike
is gone, too. She loved that bike. In those long 12 days I painted this picture of
     her racing,
to show the cops, to show the media, to drag her safely back home to me
each brush stroke. I painted this picture, and I shoved it in his face and I let his
rush down onto it and I saw what I had made and I pronounced it good, on the
         and the morning
            of the 13th day.

NaPoMo – Words in My City: Ashes



Ring around the rosies
Pockets full of posies
Ashes ashes
We all

Ring around the pockets
Full of the
Ashes ashes
All fall ashes
All fall down around
The rosies all around
The posies all around the
Ashes ashes
Falling down

Ashes ashes
All        falls        down