Palm Reading and the Poets (A Poem)

Palm Reading and the Poets

Plath was right: these are my hands,

i am the only keeper of my limbs

Berryman was right: if we don’t travel in the direction of our fear

we’re not even moving at all

Bishop was right: the art of losing isn’t hard to master

i’ve done it ten times over

I could list it in plainer terms than Oxford Press:

I won’t produce indices on end

I won’t beat biographies into the ground

like the dead horse—

maybe I’m the dead horse.

Because the way they beat me

The way the great poets wake me up

is like waking on tundra,

Alive and surprised I didn’t die,

but transported to a new state of living—

Where I’m feeling cold, awake, perplexed,

strangely submissive.

They can tell me my thoughts,

they can write me into existence.

Poetry Corner

Animal, Twice

The hedgehog is a real fortress: exteriority.

But, she a is deceptively indolent thing: interiority.

Throughout the days’ peregrinations, I think

that I too am a spiny, deceptive little Erinaceomorpha,

a turgid yet torpid thing.

I am interior and exterior,

a mind and some legs with straggly knees,

an expansive spirit with wiry hair and split-open-almond eyes,

a glance that frightens and wins,

and sex appeal that’s incongruous.

I am not like the moon rats, coarse, yet elusive:


I am Cartesian dualistic: Chordata, Animalia

I am not hair, I am not removable,

I am a real fortress: rods, pipes, branches.

Some say the elegant are wanderers:

in foreign lands, backyards, green grasses.

But what they don’t know is we are also secret-keepers;

that’s why we’ve sprouted spines,

flanks, impervious quills.

We keep our honesty in our backbones.

We are animal exterior and animal soul,

a ravenous fortress of unyielding spires.

I am an inscrutable species of animal,

eyes shaded with pricks and dip-died rods,

a hider and a seeker, a little animal with a large umbra.

But inside:

Elegance abounds,

surging from nerve to nerve.

I am lit with breath and genius, an indelible

craft, knowledge, an unsatisfied right brain.

All you need to know (seriously, though)…


If you stick my white head in a balloon

it’ll look blue or red or happy birthday

but I’ll still be dotted;

i’ll still contain clusters of melanin

pricking, decorating my hairline.

And I wonder if I reveled in the occasional

sunlit hour within the womb,

if I was painted Dalmatian-like in stroke.

At eight I had myself made-up and clothed

as Cruella DeVille, seeking out living spots

so they could lay dead against me

because I’d have rather worn myself

than look, but to avoid the self-annihilation that

came with the costume,

I painted myself golden, tan,

So all of me was one distinguishing cluster of melanin

Seeping through nose cracks and eyeball corners

Loathing the transparency,

Loathing my spots.

I stuck my head in a balloon

and marked each saturated oval

with silver, so I could still see through the markings

because I wanted to see ovals still in darkness

to dance with each melanocyte in the rain

just like we did when we met

twenty years ago

somewhere between placenta and Pennsylvania

when one melanocyte first asked me

to dance

and instead

he tap-danced all over my face.