Shut Me Down
random memories scrawl across the knuckles
of a clenched fist pounding its way into my house
drunk. a recitation of past traumas and imagined
slights, the story of my life reduced
to a single scrap of paper.
at twenty, with my newborn son, huddled
in the back of a closet, listening
to the angry breath of the man
on the other side of the door,
panting and wheezing as if removed
from a much-needed incubator, wondering
who is this person I’m leaving
how did we get here?
I could barely tell my mother
anything, I remember saying something
about all the wrong people
who fall into my life.
Still Life at the Beach
The world became flat and dead, a still photograph
of awfulness that could not be erased.
They could not put her body back in the water
and have her emerge, minutes later
smiling and happy and perfectly alive.
Nobody could erase or rewind
the last few minutes. She would not
ever move again, there would be no
CPR miracle, no random prayer
settling in just the right place
to bring her back to life. I watched
from the beach, afraid to join the crowd gathered
around the dead little girl, my sandwich half-eaten
on the towel beside me. There was nothing I could do.