In all trades, skill comes from repetition:
the swoop of a hand drilled bone deep by repetition.
And I’ve been stuttering through the motions
for years: chalk swept over a page, hand dark from repetition,
paddle plying water open like my man’s foot on the ignition,
hips carving through the waves which rock my dreams, repetition
that can not be slaked even four years after quitting the river, criss-
cross lines on the page that make my hands ache with repetition,
thumb tight from swilling sick cells into dishes and dishes and dishes,
the secrets of life revealed by sweat and endless repetition.
Don’t let anyone fool you. Life does not peel open of its own volition,
listen when you ask, does not yield to love or water, only repetition.
The cell doesn’t whisper in my ear, despite how long I’ve listened.
And it’s been years now, the slow drag of knowing in the repetition,
pool liquid up, pipette liquid out, infect, watch the sickness
spread, do it over again the next day. What I’ve found in repetition:
some days fluorescent-flicker joy, other days rank-dish contamination.
In my dreams, dishes turn bright yellow with bacteria. Nightly repetition.
Now matter how I watch old news footage, I can’t understand Nixon.
The cancer cell is not partisan. It does not care about our repetition
of speeches and wars, just its own growth, escaping recognition
by the control system of our bodies. Human kudzu. Form and repetition.
Outside, the world swells and swirls as snow melts into cold migration
and the creek threatens to burst into flames, its yearly repetition.
A flower flashes me from the side of the road, the joy of recognition
fills me like media fills a flask, rain in the satellite dish, rain’s repetition
the only thing that lulls me to sleep after wishing
that my work spooled smoother through my hands, that the repetition
needed for skill and love didn’t callous me up, that kissing
my worries would float them into the sky. But I am used to repetition.
Form of Epilepsy
Thunder fades across the plains but another storm forms
in the back channels of my brain. I cannot wear this form
anymore. Body creases, fights. I would like to slice out this warring
patch of neurons, the squalls and squeals deforming
thought-highways into meandering nowhere routes that score
pages into scribble, that floor it for no reason, that floor me into forms
I cannot recover from. Overcome: the desk-flop, the bitten tongue, the scorn
radiating from within my mis-wired brain while my half-formed
thoughts slide down a cliff. Eyes cloud. Hands skitter, bob up and down, arms
shake like I have words but they can’t find their way out, mouth unformed.
Though I want you gone, brain storm, want to sing my baby gone over
and over, I worry what would go with you, what thoughts would no longer form.
Empty. Thank the lord. I can’t replicate while pumping my body full-bore
with anti-convulsants. And thank the lord for that too, the excuse not to form
myself into a woman subsumed. Not that I need one for me but for
all of you. Now I carry the my-life permission-slip in the form
of old ER bills I still need to pay, new ways of flinching and turning
blank. One day I will wake and slip into sky become old coat, form
myself wide, and let my brain take me where it may, a storm
I lean into the way we lean out the window as teenagers, waiting for love to form.
Form of Art
Budding, sculling, creaking: along the old canal life forms,
endrunkens before the reunion hordes drink deep. Sloppy leaves form.
Seizures bring me new words: aflooded, scarn, conbard, lormed.
Drunk rain coats the window, streaking shapes like Matisse, his cut-out forms
stacking mermaid and palm-frond and great lobed ornery
color across my memory. Winter in New York. Familiar form
turned strange again: the artist’s joy, the cook’s lament. Adore
me, sing smooth the blue-tinged photos, sing the memory we form.
Long battalion of blue paint tubes, taut, waiting, mourning
their long winter in the bin, humming for the day they emerge to form
a new version of sky, water, those photos on the wall. Adornment
I never pause for, the blue ones, which don’t sing it but form
the record of my better days: sunset dripping into the lake, a late swerve
down the eve-draped highway, the Duomo, my love’s young form.
Before he was, even, before love. Years ago I spread on the floor
and sorted them. Each year they tell a different story. What form
will they, and I, take next? Will I find stacks, reams, sheaves more,
one-thirtieth-second bursts now scrubbed from my brain? What forms
where memory is itched away? Some blanks spill horn
and sax, drowning out empty. But like blues and cut-outs, our earthly forms
were created by gain and loss, copy and carving. Like thunderstorms
burning through forest. Through hurt, I make. From my hands, new forms.
I’m a graduate student in the Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I love all bacteria that don’t live on my kitchen counters; painting dead things; and writing poems while driving. My work can also be found in Fiddleblack, Parcel, PANK magazine, and the Adroit Journal.