Kafka’s Reincarnated as a Wasp

Pink Bedroom (Still Life At Night)

Kafka’s reincarnated as a wasp and
he’s playing squash against my window pane;
a car horn keeps beeping its
repetitive tune in mourning

the duke of Marlborough’s barricaded
It’s wide music variety
Once catered
the emotionally stunted

The Saturdays reliant
on fosters tops to embellish
their champagne supernova
in mr bright side

It now sits there
like a pound shop Alcatraz

I want to eat the wasp
and pelt the car with water balloons
Reopen the duke of Marlborough
and host the ghost of John Prine

the clock strikes 11
And I’ve gone back to bed

wish I was that seagull
perched on the roof
of the off license
pecking at Gods bread.


Artwork by Richard Tuschman

Ink Epiphora (How Do I Say)

“Would you believe it if someone told you I was the daughter of Mark Ruffalo?”


Because there’s a little girl in me that died too fast. She burned to ashes and rose into an adult, a guardian for her brother and the family dog. For so long, “dad” was synonymous with “damned.”
Everyone asks about your parents, plural. They don’t get the hint when you mention only your mom, and want to know about the sperm donor that fertilized your existence. They ask and don’t realize, couldn’t realize, that images of that man and his banging fist make you think of how you should’ve spared your mom the pain of your existing. Hop in a DeLorean, grab a Time Turner, go back and tell her to get away. Don’t worry about me, just get away from the shouting, the drunk nights, the home firefights.
But objects of fantasy can’t alter reality’s history, can’t change that I’m here, can’t change all the times I wished I wasn’t. They can’t make the change, but I’ve had years of practice wielding a pen and carving stones.
At six, I couldn’t turn the car around when he abandoned my baby brother on the road. I couldn’t press the brake on any of the inebriated highway cruises. In high school, I couldn’t bite the blade of the machete he thrust to my face.
Finally, finally, I can tell you who my dad is not. That lost girl can live in a daydream where a curly haired gentleman encourages her passion for camera lenses and foster a love for chasing mountain lions. People would look to my mom, to him, then understand how I came to be.

So, yes, I am asking if you could believe Mark Ruffalo was my dad. I could.

“Just wondering.”

Artwork by Martine Johanna 

Van Gogh

Golden warmth, earthy scents
Exuberance in every brush stroke, a tactile kind of sensuousness
Enveloped the woman as she stood in front of a display of unadulterated joy
A momentary but passionate affair

Lovingly, kindly
He dedicated an honesty to the droops where they exist but also the colors where they bloom
The curves, witnesses to how he loved them
His rough arms around her waist
Her eyes upon all his vulnerability

She saw him
In a meditative state in the sunlight filtered through pollen
They waltzed to a tune only they could hear
Oh, how the sunflowers sang!
He paused to sneezed, I reckon.
Excuse me ma’am.
She planted him kisses and looked out the window—

His weary face, stained yellow and brown
Reflected on a canvas. Weightless —
The momentary but passionate affair
All recorded and rewritten in the golden warmth and earthy scents
As she stood there, awed
By the vision of
That sunny afternoon when he immortalized a vase of


Painting by Vincent Van Gogh, “The Sunflowers”, 1888



Your skin has a special kind of supple like a
Plum taut with ripeness that one pinch is enough
To induce rapture,

A burst of

Confetti. Like a child on her birthday hits the colorful
Piñata on the right spot and sparkling laughter,

Singing Fiona Apple’s happier tunes,
My hand on your shoulder an affectionate camaraderie,
Softness on your sturdy figure,

Like the feeling of your red and white swimsuit,
Stretched over pure bareness—

Two palms sliding into one another,
The feeling of “just right” and nothing more,

When you look to me,
Cigarette between freshly-kissed lips and I reach out to
Touch your face.


Painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, “The Bed”, 1893



Before it gets too convoluted let us backtrack and go back to counting


Soft knocks on your heart
And a hug to initiate
A new story


Photograph by Susan Meiselas, “After School on the Corner of Prince and Mott Streets”, 1976


Miss Havisham

Crumbly old wounds infested by breeding beetles
Shards of chandelier and wine glasses and glass plates lodged into her yellowed wedding dress
Cuts into furniture and her skin if she dares to move
Ancient clocks stopped at an exact time so every wall hears her breathe

She feeds on scraps left by the butler on purpose
On the burnt carpet smelling of rot and excrement
High ceilings and there, mysterious creatures crawl, four-legged and six-legged and eight-legged
Waxen face still in silence. Slit of a mouth has not spoken in fifty years.

She waits for the men who took women in vain
All the bad men on the streets who screamed at women they cannot have
All the bad men in suits who bought women who needed to eat
All the bad men in religious garb who forced their penises down young girls’ throats
All the bad men who pushed for more after women said no
All the bad men who wrote women like forgiving creatures or shrill shrews or objects of
the eyes
All the bad men in government who made decisions on women’s wombs

When they are herded in by the millions
She will combust into brilliant blue and white flames
To melt the flesh off their faces
And from their ashes she will make baby girls who will learn to kill without fear, insult without hesitation, and love without blindness
From their ribs slave men will be created
To join the New World Order


Painting by Henri Rousseau, “Le Douanier”, 1894

It Comes in Pieces



My mother told me I could never let go of a baby pink comb. An aeroplane skimming over a cloud, soft as the foam of milk. The feeling of his cheek against yours. Truth is nothing but fodder for an argument. A Senegalese accent is a truffle rolling on the tongue. I hated the sound of a violin but I was in love with a violinist. Poetry is glass. He used to play me songs on the guitar and I was taught to believe in magic. Should love feel like an itchy sweater? I’ll forget 16. The sound of a heart breaking is always silent. Sometimes I heard music and wanted to collect its notes in a sealed jar, like storing butterflies. When we met, I started to write. He left. My father made warm omelettes on weekends. I left, and that in itself was a kind of power. Libraries are meant to be quiet but we were not. Poetry speaks where eyes and mouths don’t.



I can only remember the laughter when it hurt. They still talk about how we danced. Blame it on the Chinese tea. David Bowie will always and never sound the same. You’re having the most fun when the moment’s too blurry for Instagram. It took six years. Marginalia, paraphernalia. I used to dream of this, just like the lights and the car rides in indie films. Those 250 words were an exercise in bonding. Did you want me to…? There was one month left but facts get lost in the wind when you’re running across the field, air ruddy on your face and coat flying out behind you. Jealousy is a corrosive substance. We got in an accident and felt more afraid of the metaphor than the chipped paint. All it took was a tango. Something aches and we’ve all got our hands on each other’s hurt. This is my fight song. I’ll remember 17. ‘Us’ is a beautiful word.



You collected the shiniest shells on the beach. Nothing is lonelier than reading a textbook at night. Solitude by the sea, solitude in a snow globe. My mother told me to think of those below you. Tears are salt are ocean are wombs. The girls said you were bossy and you learned to twist your mouth like theirs. That seagull was like a scrap of paper. I write about being jagged but do not accept it. The colour blue, is it cold or warm? My mother fed me honey and cinnamon when I was sick, hot and sticky on a steel spoon. I didn’t know friendship was an acidic substance. How many followers do you have? The wine looked like blood and tasted worse. She was Ariel and you understood. You are startled by the sky every summer, it is honey blue. She cut her indigo braids then went to write her SATs. Depression is dyeing your lungs the same shade as the evening and she looked at you and nodded. Landlocked countries make us caged birds that do not sing.




My mother snatched books away from me in the car. Both comfortable and uncomfortable with loneliness. Have you ever tried writing while you’re drunk? Novels are alternate universes.  The word ‘introvert’ is branded like a red hot poker on a cow. Talk to us, please. I have gazed up at the stars and tried to catch them in my palms like beads. Let’s make a necklace. Noose. You got in a conversation with poetry and it never seems to end. We keep asking each other what love even is. Crying on the telephone. Why are friendships like strings and how could she do this to me? I’m a kid. How mean, so mean. You wore your silence like an ugly fashion accessory that one feels obliged to wear because a great-aunt gave it as a parting gift and it was too impolite to say no. God, no.




My skin was always too tight. The better the chocolate, the more bitter the aftertaste. I am ashamed by inches. He said you were soft and he was not expecting it. No one has been able to touch you. 15 is full of holes and now you will fill them with sugar. Clinics reminded me of the imperfections. I romanticized my own fault lines but at least I was not an earthquake. I imagined him saying that a curved spine is more interesting than a straight one but he did not exist. Can’t breathe when it’s happening. Once you had three slices of cake, you’ve been looking back ever since. He asks me if I need a goddamn sonnet proclaiming my beauty. To be naked is to be free is to be unseen. I scrolled through Facebook pictures and wept. Yes, I need proof, but I do not say it. Fashion is a masquerade. Poetry is a glass. A girl is a price and you are paying it.




My mother kept buying jeans in different colours, only now you wonder what this meant. Speak. You can and will never finish those letters. What if she had done it? A scarf could be the culprit. It burns to feel like this, it burns, that’s how you know. A family trip to the mall can prevent divorce. The top shelf of her cupboard will always be dark. You couldn’t sleep at night, strained to hear noises, you thought she’d do it and dawn would be an ending. Nobody to ask so you ask all the questions on Google. Your mother laughed the most. We played Monopoly on the bedroom carpet. I don’t want him to hate me. You screamed music, then poems, you screamed your own name. Silence is heavy not loud. Love is Paris and he saw it in you while I saw it on an atlas. I once wondered what a language made from the sounds of rain would be like. Eyes are only taps that need plumbing.




He wrote that hell was brown-eyed. She liked books about solitude. I hugged them both, thinking that what we had was like a precious gem in the desert, like a rose in the middle of Cairo. We dreamed of Paris together. Do you remember eating straight out of the sugar packets in the café with the bad crème brulee and French music? I have kept the Polaroids safe. Tu me manques. You can find triads in jazz; we are a triad too. The unholy trinity. One point in London, one point in Abu Dhabi, one point in Gaborone. Three is my lucky number. Will you let me wring the pain out like zest from a lemon? You know I only function in metaphors. I don’t want to be 19 without you. I’m so sorry that it hurts, take all the music you want. Flushed with wine but more from being together. Can we talk about Sylvia Plath though?




So this is how it feels to be bathed by the stage. Blinded, I can see the light. The poetry comes through the cracks. Applause. Thank God tears can’t be heard. I did it, I did it, I did it. The notes are streaming, painting, streaking across the air and it is all for me. Jazz is a palette of colours. Love me. They have said that music can transport the soul and shake off skin. If you are a musician, you must be an alchemist. I hear paintings, I see songs. Mortal to immortal. What is your aspiration in life? Devenir immortel puis mourir. I pin and find my dreams in Google images. 18 will always be radical. I am afraid to say that one of my goals in life is simply to love and be loved.


Painting by Trina Teele, “Edge of Adolescence”