At three years old
you decided not to be a Sunbeam.
Somehow, you escaped the class and the whole church,
made your way,
through the LA streets,
skies full of jets screaming toward LAX
to North American Rockwell.-
The parking lot guard was crying as he
phoned for Dad
to come get your small, defiant self
In the good years,
when we thought we were rich and happy,
we’d sprawl on those orange mats by the fireplace.
Mom brought hot buttered popcorn
and mugs of coke in those matching multicolored bowls.
Dad would tell stories about the Slime People,
More lurid by fireglow.
All the neighbor kids were home before dark if they’d heard
We spent our summers at the cabin.
Baby oiled at Lake Gregory,
renting red paddleboards and chawing on frozen bananas.
Hunting with butterfly nets at Lizard Rock
amongst the giant stones that were somewhere near the old dump.
Mom always burnt the hotcakes,
but milk was so good and cold in those tin cups.
You and I built resorts among the pines, always stopping to say hello to
Toenail, who was our tree
One time, coming home from the cabin you fell asleep in the car
and, uncharacteristically, Dad carried you toward the house.
We went in through the back, past the pool and he thought it would be
to toss you in. It was unheated and you woke screaming and thrashing in that
When I went to Utah for the first time,
Uncle Tommy driving so fast on those deserted roads,
I came back sure that I would live there -
with rivers and rhubarb pie and
Prince, who I could ride whenever I wanted -
I gave you a green Tonka truck and a big bag of M&Ms.
You gave me the
But when I was sick you would rig up that box with the pulleys
from The Big Ball of String and you’d bring me a bell to ring
if I wanted anything.
You’d come with that big lime green cup filled with ice water.
If I didn’t ring the bell, you’d come anyway.
In those days I danced -
leotards and everything.
How I laughed when you were pressed into service
In that neon ruffled Spanish shirt for some boy dancer who didn’t show,
or when they made you wear the Lederhosen –once-
that Grandma brought you from Austria.
Then there was wrestling!
Oh we loved it!
To try the moves or to watch
Mel Mascaras, Man of a Thousand Faces,
John Tolos – T O L O S.
Our family knew it was broken after that one day we watched wrestling
You and me and dad on the bed,
A slip of the tongue and the house of cards came down.
You and I – we always remembered when.
So, then we were to move.
To that big house being built.
I always hated it.
And Raggles-our good dog
Who came everywhere with us and so, when she was left
dug through doors- they had the vet kill her,
because she loved us.
It was you who remembered they took us to Disneyland the night they
I remember the time
Dad marshalled us all to the high school track,
He announced, if I could run a mile without stopping-
We would go get my long promised horse that day.
I jogged onto the track.
Ran perhaps a quarter of a mile before I slowed,
a stitch in my side.
I was so mad, so embarrassed.
But you loped out and ran backwards ahead of me
the whole rest of the way- chanting
There was no horse.
Our family just walked home,
To that house in Meredith Woods.
That house had so many secrets.
You went wild there,
and I- after the Love of My Life
taught me I was as disposable as cum wiped Kleenex-
well, I was no longer a goddess.
You were the only person with a penis I spoke meaningfully to for fifteen years.
We drank together, you seriously, me companionably.
I remember the year you begged the $50 I was saving for a Christmas tree
and bought a bag of bud.
But you brought me a big tree on Christmas Eve.
I think you stole it
You got wilder and wilder, and I got sadder and sadder.
After enough times of calling the police,
I refused to see you.
Eventually I moved.
But you’d call me at 3 am and make me laugh and laugh.
-That time you told me you sang Iron Man in karaoke
with Ray Liota at some pizza joint!
You only spoke to the man who has loved me now for twelve years
and then you promised him Magilla Gorilla DEATH if he should ever hurt me.
He was stunned. He’d never met you – ever- and you were serious about the threats.
But then you flipped like a switch and started belting out some
Judas Priest tune-
right on the phone.
I guarantee he will never forget you.
One day I got the call
that if I wanted to see you alive,
I had to leave then.
I got in the car and drove to California,
found you tied to a bed, with a block in your mouth to keep you from chewing through the
respirator, which you’d done before.
“No hope,” the Dr said.
You were the color of an anemic carrot,
blood cells self destructing willy- nilly in your dying body.
Your eyebrows were gone.
And yet you lingered and lingered and finally,
after days, I left,
went back home to wait for the call to tell me
you finally passed-
fifteen years to the day after Dad died.
We took it that he finally for once showed up for you
I went back once, thinking of you- to tell Toenail-and he was gone.
Meeting of Monsters
By the time I was
it was too late for prevention.
There she sat, the maternal dragon-
scourging me with baleful, hooded eyes.
Sucking voluminous lungfuls of
sour, fulminous smoke,
incubated to that delicate point just before loss of consciousness
in the poisoned passages of her airways.
Writhing wreaths spat forth at the velocity of venging arrows,
to penetrate the small defense of my flesh and shrivel me outright
- her assessment of the idea that
I was “The One”.
That idea (dressed in summer clothes and unprepared)
could no more cross my mind than it could the Antarctic desert
yielded an instant perfect image-
And I wanted to hug her and
whisper that not in a million years
would I allow her precious son
to bite and dissolve to gonads in my flesh.
But that seemed rude to say,
So I just wiggled my lure and tried to minimize my mouthful of dangerous dentition.