Bone of My Bone

I’m my own land, unmanageable. There’s a cross
            road where my hands and lips intersect

with an illumined city’s open windows to blackbirds
            that promise to come through branches,

incising a woman’s kitchen, the reliquaria of domesticity –
            white-draped ducks’ broken necks rising

on counters. How do I measure the body’s gardens
from within its bone fences? A woman’s skin

is one world. The birth canal is another – how you lived
in a bell or in an oyster, rocking back and forth

in seaweed for a long time. Who hatches from it, shining
 through rain? In the old world, piss prophets mixed

a woman’s lemon urine with wine to discern what
            was in the womb. A hand held out for a zinnia

if the body emptied, if a distant horse runs back
to God, if a boat grows smaller, its cargo

of consecrated pears now rotting. My mother will curl
into herself, as will I, as did my grandmother, joints

unloosening more than a century after her birth. I put
            the lines that grew on her skin into a bowl, muddy

my fingers in her waxiness and into her dead eye,
unraveling her, seaming her skin, blanching her

bones back to such a shine, like a giant star’s last open
into brilliance. The unhurried light is dying, drunken

bees dropping into water, isn’t it? My body is made
            from these flat-footed women – when I step

outside not knowing where I’m headed, one of them wakes
            from her dream of owls calling and hisses,

We created you from what we saved.

(this poem was previously published in "The Journal" and currently appears within Nicole Rollender's new Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "Bone of My Bone", available here -




I raze my heart for you,
four red oxen of the apocalypse

on thunder-hooves.
Yet, instead of fire and pestilence, this new earth

fashioned windows from tree and lake
into the divine,

snow falling from sun. What is the divine, but God-
light, thorn and scourge, blood let, that bone

shine? What is also the divine: There is no saint
without a past.

No sinner who can’t see God waking,
as another pit opens.

(this poem currently appears within Nicole Rollender's new Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "Bone of My Bone", available here -




The head of the lamb knocked
underfoot, skull into lace, the baby’s knuckle

bones rattling down the stairs. God, if it’s you who destroys,
if it’s you who spits out ghosts, if it’s you who burns

cities, and rains fish from the sky to die,
if it’s you who doesn’t speak to the woman waiting

for a voice before she hangs,
then I will uncreate my whole life, walk myself back

into my mother and then into the abyss. Is this deicide,
undoing your desires?

Yet if my God is a mother who would fall on a sword
to save me, if it’s you who blows the dark from above my bed,

if it’s you who warms the milk and plated bread I wake to,
if it’s you, tiger-mother who swallows my suffering,

then I swaddle you, Lord,
and rock you,

even if my arms are cut from my torso, sing you
into being,

even if my mouth fills with one hundred
severed tongues.

(this poem currently appears within Nicole Rollender's new Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "Bone of My Bone", available here -




Now, finally,
I see what is

is. What might be
is, too, only

less so. And what
is not is, too,

though we hardly
notice how we

against dreams

and poems.




then another
kind of longing.

Wind keeps nothing
in its thin hands.

The sun leaves
the trees behind.

Hope is the light
just before dark,

the firefly we
can almost see,

and then it's gone.




Bent off, broken, blasted, the torn
trees after the storm, light marking
the edge of edges. We expect

the world to hold. The world does not
have expectations. The sun lays
down its shine. Wind takes what it wants.




A swollen sadness, of course,
for an old man unhappy
with the way humankind has

turned. Nature has long patience,
fortunately. Our sourness
poisons the world. Our efforts

ricochet. It is such a
dangerous game to play, to
deny the facts in the face

of facts. To sell the last glass
of clean water for profit.
To leave our children fending

for themselves. The old man says
we'll go extinct before
the turn of the century,

and you're starting to think, in
the grand scheme of things, that might
not be so bad after all.




he wants to
sit up and say,

“Nothing to see
here, move along.”




During this decline ants will grow wings
to fly across water and kill children
fall in love with this
the black night of dreams
where swarmers waltz hypnotic
learn to love our cages
and dream of someplace darker
where we can’t see the bars
where thin waists constricted at the thorax
slip unheeded into non-being
where we are all laced
onto an endless necklace of heads
and none of it matters

You learned to love me
in a collapsing colony
and this is not metaphor
this is for the stranger and Saint Francis
teaching the disintegrating man
how to measure a medium
with a tongue and two hot winds
after watching me throw my soda
at the drive-thru window
one too many times

The stranger will speak to you
in the blazing dew of stars
about your reality habit
think about this every second  
learn to see
beyond the burning nest



Trigger-warning Loving Blob

The trigger-warning loving blob burbles its fingers into a snap
We, the waiters, smile and serve since no one cares for our troubles, not even us
We bow politely to serve history without meat, news without bones. We bite our tongues
to refrain from calling the blob unpleasant names like simpleton, sludge, or semi-
spherical-snot-clotted half-wit until blood runs through our teeth. We dab its chins with
white napkins and offer a partially eviscerated reality. Even half is too much, it’s clear
our red mouths have upset the minions suckling on the blob’s tits. Blob pushes us back,
and the word “rape” escapes a covered dish. Dutifully, we pick up its bloody vagina
and black eyes, only to drop them again, as blob shrieks, “How could you!” on its way
out the door. After the drama has ended, we gather the carnage of all the abused
and rest them close to all they’ve accused. We set them gently, but purposefully,
upon the table, it is time to cope, for those that are able




My last glass went down
on the top note of Il Dolce Suono Lucia di Lammermoor
From there I fell upward to the cat cloud,
my mouth fur-thick, thick with fur-
I can't even say it
For a second the sunlit tabby arched high,
reaching for invisible stars
Why daytime?
This diva's done, consumed by fire and sun,
over here, adrift on sweat island, miles from any ocean,
still looking for that note. I hear myself say, "Can't be no place"
and imagine that sky-cat's claws in motion,
kneading the air into tendrils of vapor, distilling
breakfast like a good kitty.
Such a pity that I don't make sense anymore,
praying to an empty glass, in case God feels
like helping those who fuck themselves.




As the days wane I fold over
into and beyond myself
and close like the flaps
of a cardboard box.

My eyes are closed.
My hands are clasped.
My mind is closed.
My heart is closed.

Open me.
Barge in
and open me.

Part my hands.
Take your knife
and open my heart.

As the sunlight pours in like blood
I fumble for the blinds.
As the world knocks
I barricade the door.

Use me up.
Burn me down.
Bless me as I hide.

Let in the sun.
Tumble down the bricks
of my loneliness.

My eyes must adjust
to the light.
My skin must adjust
to the elements.

Open me up.
Open me up
and let me fall
to the floor.

Spilling sick like the wine
of a rising drunk
who has discovered God mistakenly

and at last
in the elements of his own forest
of thorns and din and darkness.




13 myna birds on the fence
They will all be given a chance
1 gets sold out for sixpence
1 breaks her leg trying to dance

11 myna birds about to fly
1 gets shot before reaching the sky
1 is too afraid to try
1 is frozen by an eagle’s cry

8 myna birds reaching for heaven
The eagle gets one, now there’s 7

7 myna birds climbing higher
1 is inhibited by lack of desire
1 is decapitated by telephone wire
1 flies too hard and catches fire

4 myna birds still on the loose
1 flames out - ran out of juice
1 is taken by a hungry goose
2 myna birds escape the noose

2 myna birds still in the air
1 kills the other, God doesn’t care
1 myna bird, all that remains
1 myna bird with the mark of Cain