malignancies

patched up

Posted in sestet by maggie on June 3, 2016

i must be losing my knack at being hot 
since the boy who should be loving me's been not 
and seduction's not a trick i'm much trained at 
but i just heard some breakthrough medical news 
how my family physician can cure me of my blues 
just get me sporting a female sex drive patch 

but i'm not ready to have me another kid 
still not over what happened last time i did 
besides, a girl my age needs no snot-nosed brat 
so doc, while you're rummaging in your miracle drawer 
there's another prescription the girl came here for 
add on a contraceptive birth control patch 

then with a sexuality that'll roll the dice 
and a womb that won't have to pay the price 
you know the partying mood that will come from that 
and knowing me, i'd take hard to drink 
but they've got a cure for that one too, i think 
an alcoholic's anti-hangover patch 

like they say, don't patch what ain't been broke 
even so, i was fixing to quit my smoke 
cigarettes will kill you, the government says for a fact 
i don't want to catch cancer inside my lung 
i'm coughing already and i'm still pretty young 
so i went with a nicotine anti-smoking patch 

there isn't any season when i won't sneeze 
afflicted as i am with myriad allergies 
pill after pill after pill go down the hatch 
but there is one thing i'm not allergic to 
so you know damn well what i just had to do 
it's clear sailing ahead with an antihistamine patch 

when it's setting to rain every bone that i've got starts to ache 
i get sore all over, there isn't much more left to break 
it's all i can do to keep all my pieces intact 
but even before any old wound starts to hurt 
i can numb myself up and still remain fully alert 
jacked up on my comforting pain-killing patch 

my friends and i exchange patchy regards 
collecting and trading our patches like baseball cards 
i'm an old pro at this, so i've got a decent batch 
i'm more patched up than an ancient pair of jeans 
i've got holes everywhere, and you know what that means 
i cover each hole over patch by patch 

there's so much to munch on it's almost obscene 
but i wanted to keep my throat squeaky clean 
it had nothing to do with whether or not i was fat 
"you don't like to eat" said my doctor, well duh 
as in: chronic severe anorexia 
but no problem, now i've got me an appetite patch 

but we wouldn't want that one to ever get out of control 
like start dreaming of taking full bites and swallowing whole 
you have to watch these things, there's always a catch 
so lest i swing too far the other way 
i have something to keep my body at bay 
i'll balance it out with my calorie-eating diet patch 

overactive bladder syndrome seemed a neat one to me 
so i drank a whole lot and tried really hard to pee 
soon i was leaving a puddle wherever i sat 
but i'm proud to announce that i'm once again dry 
i can now hold it in as good as any guy 
since i reasserted control with my oab patch 

i don't even feel like getting up out of bed 
i just pull up the blanket and go back to sleep instead 
help, i've disconnected and can't reattach 
though i'm back on the road toward feeling worthwhile 
perhaps sometime soon i can fake a forced smile 
it's better than prozac, my anti-depressant patch 

my doc says "we like treating patients like you" 
yeah, a sucker to sell all his snake-oil patches to 
i said "doc, i've had enough patches!" he smiled at that 
then he gave me a 3-month supply of his newest strips 
one for each of my arms, one for each of my hips 
the peel-off label said "extra-strength patch-addiction patch" 

i've got a patch for my hemorrhoids, got a patch for my gerd 
i've got patches for ailments that i haven't yet incurred 
each malignancy has its own patch, all my bruises, every scratch 
i've got a patch that hits anything it detects 
i've got patches for my patches' side effects 
take all your needles and pills, but give me a patch 

my lover felt there was something badly amiss 
when he couldn't find any of my skin to kiss 
every square inch had a medical condition to match 
so then someday all i have sown i must surely reap 
but don't mourn, just lay me down to my sleep 
and cover up where i once was with one last patch
 
 

[9/26/2004]   

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mother will come back

Posted in triolet by maggie on May 24, 2016

mother will come back, maybe tonight
and sing again the songs we used to sing.
if only i can close my eyes just right,
mother will come back. maybe tonight
she and i will join our dreams in flight
and lives we forfeited won't mean a thing.
mother will come back, maybe tonight
and sing again the songs we used to sing.

mother will come back, i'm packed in case,
inheriting the victim's mask she wore,
the tears and blood i kissed from her sad face.
mother will come back. i'm packed in case.
and where he beat her, i recall that taste,
so i have nothing here i'm hungry for.
mother will come back, i'm packed in case,
inheriting the victim's mask she wore.

mother will come back, and when she does
things will go back being how they were.
don't concern yourself for me because
mother will come back. and when she does
she'll hold me in her arms the way i was
before he did to me as he did her.
mother will come back, and when she does
things will go back being how they were.
 
 

[5/8/2004]   

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if i don’t die

Posted in quintet by maggie on May 14, 2016

		voices making rumors for their sell 
		dreams abandoned homeless for their tell 
		lies for their own lies, i know them well 
		this must be that hell they talk about 
		if i don't die i'll get you out 

		i can't get through the night unless i'm thin 
		i can't break through unless it breaks the skin 
		set fire to the room they've got me locked up in 
		without my sin you wouldn't need my blood 
		if i don't die i'll do you good 

		they medicate me to death, that's therapy 
		i take it out on myself, that's poetry 
		come do your worst, that'll be fantasy 
		i'm where i will be to you by my design 
		if i don't die i'll make you mine 
  
  

[10/2/2005]

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If I Name Names

Posted in nonce by maggie on January 16, 2013

       I can't remember how my stars are named. 
              Me they never knew,
       so I'm informed they doubt I ought be blamed.
              They're not like you. 

       No matter. Who cares what what's called?
              How would we know
       except to go along with what we're told. 
              If you say so.

       From end to end of starlight's infinity
              its name endures. 
       They said if I name names, I could go free.
              I gave them yours. 

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you would have loved it

Posted in loose change by maggie on November 10, 2009

you would have loved it had you been here
walking the streets this time of year
wind blowing the fallen leaves around
not letting them yet touch the ground
until they were crisp and fresh as breath
so as to reflect what's become of your death
days like this i can still feel you near
you really would have loved it here

god i miss your touch so bad
the first i knew to the last i had
traffic all bundled against the chill
but you laughing shirtless at the open sill
then joining me back in that borrowed bed
with some joke of how cold you might be to be dead
and tickling my thighs for acting back mad
oh god i miss your touch so bad

that was something you said you knew
we'd meet up back here when we were both through
you no less eager and i no more wild
you with your conquests and i with your child
but my hope will find jewels in the fall's first ice
as each new love echoes your sacrifice
i loved you
               yes and
                            i still do
i wish i could say that was something you knew

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acceptance

Posted in pantoum by maggie on September 1, 2009

thanks. i do appreciate the touch.
it's rare to catch me smiling so relaxed.
normally i'm not interested as such
and maybe would've run if i'd been asked.

it's rare to catch me smiling so relaxed
being noticed, getting pointed out,
and maybe would've run if i'd been asked:
to be thought best is not what i'm about.

being noticed, getting pointed out,
that usually means it's time for me to go.
to be thought best is not what i'm about,
enough perhaps for one to love as though.

that usually means it's time for me to go
normally i'm not interested as such,
enough perhaps for one to love as though.
thanks. i do appreciate the touch.

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generosity

Posted in sapphics by maggie on July 29, 2009

were it not for jennifer's open window
you would not be sleeping with such contentment
dancing in your dreams of a playful sunbeam
       teasing your cradle.

i would not be watching you touch my morning
up with kissing promises in your fingers
reaching out for something i could not give you,
       what i most wanted.

simple as a word that you know on hearing,
full as legends never meant to be finished,
jenny's voice cut through our most desperate silence,
       steady in comfort.

"come," she said, "i'll make up your bed for sleeping,
close your eyes, there's no cause for you to worry."
child and mother snuggled into her peaceful
       homewarming blanket.

off, you monsters, baby won't cry about you.
back, you demons, mommy forgets to use you.
something in the way jenny held her hand out
       holds ours like morning.

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nosebleed

Posted in sonnet by maggie on July 5, 2009

corruption stains this page, a spot of red,
another follows quickly, and a third.
it fills my throat as i lean back my head.
i list some other tainted poems i've heard
as though they'd been my bleeding parts instead.

i swear, it was not me that cut my nose
but i've sworn oaths like that to no avail
yet still lost times i did not mean to lose
so now it always happens without fail:
they see a bit of red, away she goes.

still, the taste of it is worth the threat;
i let some trickle down my upper lip.
if trouble comes then trouble's what i'll get,
my words awash in what the veins let slip.

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nursery rhyme

Posted in sonnet by maggie on July 2, 2009

the child can count to four. they take her sleep
away. the child is scared. it is her turn
to be upstairs. she does not want to go.
the grownup boys are in the bath. they keep
on laughing at the child. they make her learn
to wash them so it makes their bodies grow.

the child is naked too. her daddy takes
some photographs, and then takes off his pants.
she squeals and wiggles like a captured shoat.
the child is very dirty. daddy makes
her nice and clean. straight love's her only chance:
his boiling juices purify her throat.

her memories taste like old fermented scum.
like scalding water, dreams for cleansing come.

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aftertaste

Posted in loose change by maggie on June 29, 2009

why can't i keep me clear of you
as though you had me by the throat
and held like that i took you in
until collapsing in your arms
i promised you my firstborn child?

convinced that you knew special moves
i forced my voice to sound like yours
rehearsing roles wrapped up in smoke
and shadows tipped with bluish light
to haunt our stage with reverie.

a hundred times i've left your bed
while you were still asleep, as though
that easily desire could stop
without the aftertaste of you
outlasting every other urge.

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church and mission

Posted in sonnet by maggie on June 24, 2009

my body stretches out against its bone
unbroken, claimed by unbooked tribal lore
for strangers to possess. i dance for you.
the muscles in my back grow tight and sore
the way the weight of pleasing you has grown.

watch out! the tide looks swollen on the storm
against the traffic, crashing on white walls
until enveloped by its undertow
i let the wave receive me. when it calls
i taste release, red and moist and warm.

this word is who i am, is what i do,
the one forever pasted in my throat
where in the end the ones i save will go
while those i sacrifice will service boat.

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eclipse

Posted in loose change by maggie on June 19, 2009

jen points to the moon last week,
complaining how
she never kept the phases straight,
which one came next.
will i someday have that much city too,
to not recall
from one month to the next our steps
and where we are?
replacing cycles giving us our life
with men's routines?
she says we go for months that way,
without the moon.

it heads to full, i say, and then
will be eclipsed.

for jen that expectation makes
a shadowed smile
for how she knows the night will keep
her friend in tears,
as though the others pause in time
while we escape.

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daddy’s singing

Posted in loose change by maggie on June 18, 2009

my daddy i was told he was used to sing to me
cigarette tucked up his lip the whole damn tune
the lowest notes all soaked with warm beer and spit
him making like we won't say what that word meant.
hey, he's no thief for getting it for free
did it look like i didn't know what he was doing?
like i maybe had some other smell in mind?
something, how they crave what they despise
and want to witness where he led my hand
trust, my dear, it's how we touch the words.
such aching in his strength as had to have
then biting deep, the juice of me oozing out
all sticky in my curly-headed dreams
me holding to him tight until his breath
left wondering if he too saw it flash
just our little secret, him and me
how risking just enough can make that sound.

once he did me a ballad of his first lover
how naked they had lay in her mother's garden
and used a rose to mark each other's skin
hold real still, he'd show me how it went
this time maybe he would get it right
at least i hadn't had no place to run
aging me up while straining to grip his youth
his disappointment showing like a welt
but never letting on he gave a fuck.

the ash tray by my bed would fill with butts
the women he had over would so stare
their mental calculations of all the hours
made up for all the time i'd smoke alone
and hum to myself, trying to sound like him.
my daddy i was told he was, yeah right.

he never could find words that need be said
he sold his soul, that only bought him shit
he'd come up with something good, then let it slide
like his next pretty thing. and the next. and the next
until it got so he just wouldn't let them linger long
not the girls nor the words nor anything he felt

but he never thought to stop.
like a knife he knew it had to break the skin
so it got to where his songs ran end to end
the smoke hanging thick and blue above my bed
and every silence waiting for his cough
and every darkness aching for his love.
he'd make like we both knew what that word meant
it wasn't supposed to be much more than that:
you say what you have to say
what's left is what you use to make the song.

my daddy i was told he was used to sing to me.
that's how i sing:
i come by it honestly.

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a christmas villanelle

Posted in villanelle by maggie on June 18, 2009

last christmastime i gave my heart to you
(oh jesus how i hate that fucking song)
this year a piece of ass will have to do.

this season is for giving? yeah, says who?
all you ever give up's your dingaling dong,
last christmastime i gave my heart to you.

your wishlist reads like sin: a virgin jew,
an inn, then hallelujah all night long.
this year a piece of ass will have to do.

why celebrate? i wish to hell i knew,
them holiday blues just come on so damn strong.
last christmastime i gave my heart to you.

there was much more to me you had your chance to screw
than the stocking stuffers you went for beneath my thong.
this year a piece of ass will have to do.

so color in our season with black and blue,
the trappings of gay tradition got it all wrong.
last christmastime i gave my heart to you,
this year a piece of ass will have to do.

i don’t give a

Posted in villanelle by maggie on June 18, 2009

The bleeding's stopped, ain't that my goddamn luck.
Yeah, life's a bitch - Here, meet my bloody fist.
I feel like shit, but I don't give a fuck.

Love lined the edge up perfectly and struck,
It's not my fuckin' fault my heart got missed.
The bleeding's stopped, ain't that my goddamn luck.

Love hit me like a tractor trailer truck,
black bruises everywhere my skin's been kissed.
I feel like shit, but I don't give a fuck.

Love swung at me, and I'm not one to duck,
Fucked up's what I deserve, you get the gist.
The bleeding's stopped, ain't that my goddamn luck.

Love took me for a cheap cocksuckin' schmuck.
Take me like that hard, God, I insist.
I feel like shit, but I don't give a fuck.

These motherfuckin' jackass razors suck -
They're sharp as cardboard. God, I'm fuckin' pissed!
The bleeding's stopped, ain't that my goddamn luck.
I feel like shit, but I don't give a fuck.

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not near enough

Posted in sonnet by maggie on June 18, 2009

this hall's familiar, i've been here before
and you were here with one who looked like me
a few spare bucks and favors, in advance
the desk clerk checks his watch and gives the key
yeah, one debt paid, only ninety nine more

you're here already, i'll be last to leave
and in between will be here when i can
perhaps some extras when i get the chance
in this room i'm your woman, you're my man
and i'll take no more hits than you receive

we have only an hour, not near enough
to pair up all your words with all my dreams
just squeeze in what we can and call that love
(i'm here with you in mind, or so it seems) 

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happenstance

Posted in loose change by maggie on June 17, 2009

my daddy wrote gag lines for anyone willing to buy
my mama barely knew how to read
so i got myself born on the edge of the morning
with a song stuck between my teeth
i knew right off though i didn't yet know why
they had sold me into slavery
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

daddy gave me lessons in how to frisk
sure made sure i had something down there to hide
like my own secret ways with the play of his razor
but then that way i was never denied
he left me with incurable hunger for risk
to mark my culpability
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

anything illegal mama tried at least once
but nothing ever seemed to stick
that kick in her kiss meant she's let out of prison
good for any quick five dollar trick
i've got me her body and all its stunts
with its open marketability
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

the old place burned down, mama up and ran
i got passed down from friend to friend
i earned my own keep making time with strange people
not a decent freedom left to defend
every smile i got from every man
hit me like an allergy
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

all those stale sermons i memorized
were all about getting to yes
at some ghostly call i even lay on an altar
sacrifice can be useful, i guess
the part that had me the most surprised
was my struggle with eternity
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

manhattan was good for a straight open sky
i flew through it like a stone
chasing on after the flow of the traffic
so surrounded yet always alone
city streets gave me the face of a spy
with thin invisibility
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

my journal was a mirror hanging over the john
a convenient place for me to purge
instant release, automatic and easy
the flushable side of the urge
it never was meant to keep going on
like some virtual immortality
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

the authorities picked me up on a meaningless prank
confined me in a padded cell
they inspected my schemes and invaded my dreaming
on probation now growing up in their hell
i have no one to blame and myself to thank
for what they call insanity
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

one night up in chelsea i thought i found love
took all i had to hold on to my mask
my joke of a heart was the life of the party
but that hangover next morning, don't even ask
one night for a lifetime was more than enough
to function as a memory
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

get me talking on more than a glass of wine
i might say who the father was
but now that i lost her to that shit they foster
i don't care that much to argue the cause
if sin was involved i am sure it was mine
call it honest creativity
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

i can't envision making it to twenty or more
there's too much too heavy too fast
good luck and pure chance ain't a magic answer
when it's done only one thing will last
i can't speak for the one i am singing for
but cutting gives her clarity
it could have been happenstance for anyone else
but it still had to happen to me

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camouflage

Posted in ghazal by maggie on July 3, 2015

maybe if i learn to sound like you
i'd pretend to being somewhere around like you

holding myself down long enough was a trick
you taught to get me good'n drowned like you

the mask i had permanently welded on was chosen
because in my broken mirror it frowned like you

for every word i write down, three i burn
in expectation of losing ground like you

used up before fourteen i won't mind as 
long as you swear i'll not rebound like you

incipient pregnancy forces me into hiding to
the day when through our child i'm rewound like you

 
 
 

from a handwritten manuscript    
obtained from macheide        

 
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camouflage

Posted in villanelle by maggie on June 30, 2015

how's it working? can i learn to dodge
the promise living in his deadly threat
by acting normal in my camouflage?

whatever i can't hide he'll sabotage
whatever i can't mask he'll bayonette
how's it working? can i learn to dodge?

i bandage up my words in persiflage
designed to make them easy to forget
by acting normal in my camouflage

"flesh for flesh" he claims in arbitrage
"word for word" i double down his bet
how's it working? can i learn to dodge?

everything he'll see here's a mirage —
i'm wet where dry and where i'm dry i'm wet
by acting normal in my camouflage

i've secret sins not his right to dislodge
from private shadows in disguises set
how's it working? can i learn to dodge
by acting normal in my camouflage?

 
 
 

from a handwritten manuscript    
obtained from macheide        

 
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Got to Give

Posted in nonce by maggie on February 27, 2013

What's sharp enough within my reach?
I'll take whatever, one of each. 
Something's got to give. 
Blood and water down the drain.
Silence echoing through my brain. 
Something's got to give. 
Something's got to give. 
Gravity stretches in its void. 
One created, three destroyed. 
Something's got to give. 
Send the doctor on ahead. 
This one looks already dead. 
Something's got to give. 
Something's got to give. 

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