Suzi Q. Smith
I remember the summer
we smoked dried bamboo;
found it growing
or dying in the alley,
we spent afternoons hiding
in the garage with the caved-in roof
burning Barbie dolls and GI Joes,
old radios we found in garbage cans.
before we turned all gray and steely
we were sparks and giggles and gone,
matches pinched between fingers.
For My Daughter
it's getting harder to tell
your socks from mine,
i suppose it's only a
matter of time
before you won't fit
on the curve of my lap,
and soon will end the days
of our piggy-backs,
you are nearly not ticklish.
i am increasingly awed
by your astute observations,
my mouth agape after
every day finds you lovelier.
please don’t love him so much
that you origami your way into his pocket,
mingling with the trinkets and other
shiny toys he has collected.
Do not wrap your string around his finger,
as he will only pull you swinging into his open hand,
clasp his fingers tightly round your middle,
and cast you down away again.
If he should pinch you between his fingers
and send you spinning as a top,
be sure your spirals spread quickly
in the direction away from him.
You would be wise to learn his tune
when he comes winding up your levers
gather your coils together, unfold yourself
and explode your way to freedom.
examine your suitor carefully for cavities,
search for evidence of the others he has consumed;
there will be remnants trapped beneath his tongue,
for his sweet tooth is insatiable.
Do not climb into his mouth -
his venom, hostile to your sugary shell,
will dissolve you amid his rotting teeth, your flavor
swiftly forgotten as melted dime story candy.
Seek your sisters,
they will show you their missing pieces
and remember well his kind, they will recognize
his sticky fingers and many still wear the prints.
I can look you square in the eye, tell you
that I love you and mean it like
my first complete sentence.
Brick houses are not built for flinching.
I win staring contests.Play chicken ‘til someone crashes.
Keep a gas pedal in my breast pocket
and weave crime scene tape through each belt loop.
He said “I’m surprised you’re single”, I laughed
“it takes a lot of hard work and practice”, he tugged
at my hanging heart string, not expecting me to
unravel entirely into his hands.
Filled his stunned-open mouth with
kerosene kisses, traces of
flags both white and checkered
leaping from the flames.
I was born without brakes
indifference is too much like standing still
mild manners are a mask this mouth has never mastered,
swallowing miles of road as a sideshow trick.