Poems

Christine’s poems have been published in 5AM, The Magazine of Contemporary Poetry; Poems and Plays; Kite Tales; Nerve Cowboy; The Mas Tequila Review; and The Horn Book Magazine.

The poems below are unpublished.


Signs of Spring

my first love,
the actual boy
next door,
and Bunnies Under
the Bed.
All the games since, all
have tried to complicate
what up in his room
was simple
as we slid inside
the darkness,
displacing the monsters
not to mention
the killer
from Channel Eleven,
pressing our softness
together
because that’s what
newborn animals
do.


Sustenance

If only my kisses held real meat,
the kind the wolf strips from the
downed deer and hauls back to the den
in her bulging purse, then, drunk on
flesh, we’d sleep snout over snout,
a contented pile, until the moon wedged
between us, warned us not to forget
who we really are—just a pair of bloody
carnivores growling in the dark.


Will Santa Ever Die?

Perhaps he did,
so the spirit of Christmas really is
the Spirit of Christmas,
see-through as a red negligee,
the chimney his dark portal back
to the world of the insatiable.

It’s true, children,
you should stay asleep
because his apparition acts
as an X-ray through the wrapping,
and when St. Nick kneels
before the crèche you can spy
the toy baby’s tiny skull.


The Matador

My daughter asks
if her hair looks better up or down,
if she should wear these pants
or the other ones, or maybe
this skirt?

However many times she twirls
the cloth, I foolishly believe
there’s a safe direction,
a pivot or swerve that leads back
to the clover, to the peaceful
humming of bees.

The truth is,
she always looks beautiful.
But I am just her mother,
just a big clumsy animal,

and beautiful is code
for fat, or so she tells me
every morning when we dance
around the ring in this cruel sport,
this time-honored tradition.


To the New Cat

You looked confused, almost hurt, when I held
open the door and said, “Go on, you know you
want to.”Now there was nothing between you
and every chickadee at the feeder.

Once you brought home a live one.
Once you were gone for two days.
A fed-up woman called. I watched her
husband mutely scoop your shit into the street.

That night you pressed against my chest as if
I was the only bed you’d ever need,
just like the guy before you.
Oh he’ll come back, everybody kept telling me,
he knows where his food is.


Company Picnic

The small talk continues
getting smaller, so I pretend that
I’m Christina the Astonishing, who
levitated over her own funeral to avoid
the stench of mourner sin.

Like her I come back down to the
patio after a tour of Heaven, Hell,
and Purgatory convinces me not
to drift forever on a cloud of God’s
cologne, but instead to suffer

for the sake of tortured souls—plunge
my bare arms into the cooler, sear my
breasts with burning coals, beg
you to tell me more about
that time-share in Boca Raton.


Halloween Parade

From one of the zombies he borrowed fake
blood, dripping jewels for his crown of thorns.

Sister Alice sent him home to change
even though he wore long sleeves with his loin cloth.
Even though, unlike Fairy Princess Crystal and her confiscated
wand, he kept his cross to himself.

Even though he’d performed this role last spring
in the class Passion play, staged outdoors, where
congregations of crocuses clawed up through the mud
like bodies resurrecting.


Relic

When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

                —Kings 13:21

After the grownups figured out where most of the blood
was coming from, my best friend’s mom, a nurse, ran
to the bottom of the cul-de-sac and combed the gravel
under the spokes for my missing piece.

Doctors propped it back in place, and for years
it fooled everyone—smiling, chewing, filling the hole,
but tilting more and more until no creative rearranging
could hide the rot nibbling the veneer.

Ask any Lazarus, it’s not the leaving that’s difficult,
it’s the return.  You brush and rinse and still
phantom soil creeps into your sockets. Someone
tongues your hidden scar and you remember

how they plucked you from the ground
when you were young and riding so fast that
a clutch at the brakes sent you flying
over the handlebars.


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