Addition Does NaPoWriMo

Watch with awe as I struggle to write a "poem" every day for the month of April.


For Jeff

I thought about writing you a belated

love letter, but then remembered the time that,

after two glasses of wine, you started crying

about your dead dog and I, all elbows and

armor, shifted over on the couch.  So instead

I will try to put the pieces of you back together

six years past due.  Even though I kissed

the Irishman behind my car when I should have been

waiting for you, even though I never took you

to my bed and let you sleep until the morning,

even though, when you told me it was over,

I did not grab your sleeve just in time

to pull you back in: your sweetness is a sugar

I still taste whenever I drive past your mother’s house,

and sometimes as I’m turning the key to an apartment

lifetimes from you, I wonder about the softness of your hands.



You take into your body, like a deadbolt,

the very weapon used in the thousand-year
war against yourself. The war which

taught you to carry your keys like a fist 

of butchery at night. Which taught you 
any jackal can look just like a man: 

your grandfather, your cousin, your friend, 

your uncle. Really, what else can become
and unbecome a weapon so quickly?

Guns do not melt after firing. A dagger

will not go limp as a snipped lily in your hand.
But, now, here, it is only a bayonet in theory.

Only a threat on paper. Now, your body 

is all yes and open windows. It is summer. 
It isn’t actually summer but inside your body, 

it is all July, no mosquitos. All itch, no scratch. 

Your body charms the snake from the basket. 
Your body takes in the homeless and bathes them 

with your tongue. You are the socket.

The shock. The source. Forever, it seems,
the act of being entered has been compared to

the act of being broken into. To be the swallower 

and not the sword. But what takes more strength?
Tell me, what takes more mercy?

- Sierra DeMulder


1/30: Ode to a Difficult Poem

Confession, 1/21

snow makes me afraid of dying,

not for the obvious reasons— slipping,

sliding, careening, the stark end

of a sudden guiderail—

but because i never want

to not be alive

to see it fall.


I remember using a sharp edge

to carve the date into a soft stone:

6/12.  Everything was lit

in a dizzying happiness, dripping

with it, the honey of indecision

pooling at the bottom

of each eddy in the river.

Now I turn over my sadness in my hand,

thumbing its ache. A word can change the world.

You wondered aloud whether I was enough

and now the bees have all vanished,

in their place empty white boxes

and the tracks still humming

from a train just gone.

June 3, 2013

Alternate Ending

All I know is that she would be



That she still would have gone,

still would have flown helter-skelter

across a country mowed flat into squares.


But that when, upon her return, you vanished

(no letters, no calls, no messages),

she wouldn’t have been smart about it.

She wouldn’t have kept her mouth shut.

She wouldn’t have bothered.


She would have called you every night for a year

and railed tin-can ragged at the new cold of her sheets.

She would have gone back just to trip, drunk and wild,

up the twenty-four steps to your apartment door, and slept

curled against it, listening for the thudding proof of your heart.

She would have followed you to work, screaming out

epithets for all the ways your touch cut her to the bone.


(Because, of course, that is what your absence

did to me.  Your Houdini escape from the life

we were building in my brain was a void

I couldn’t fill for months.)


And even though now you’ve been made largely

irrelevant by a boy with browner eyes and kinder hands,

sometimes that woman prowls out of me, vodka

riding on her tongue, feeling murderous.

And sometimes, even as I’m sipping tea and reading

the novel whose quiet joys you almost stole from me,

she’s howling down those city streets with a megaphone

and some choice adjectives.  And it’s only when I whisper

my four-word mantra across the miles

that she finally, finally, finally lets it go.

6/30: Window

With your back to the window you won’t notice

the trash blowing around the project yard,

the tattered curtains, the woman whose piece of shit man

has left

without so much as a check for utilities

for the fucking last goddamn time.

With your back to the window, you won’t hear

the taxis’ arrogant braying, the bubbling oil beneath

the cuchifritos sign, the trash trucks moving through:

the dull thud of this city’s sinewed, tired heart.

With your back to the window, you can focus

on all those things that drag you out of bed:

the checkbook in need of balance,

the full calendar,

the notice from your landlord,

but you’ll never notice

the miracle of daffodils softly springing from parched earth,

the fact that a spring breeze is still sweet— yes,

even here—

the galaxies of oil-slicked pavement

after rain.

5/30: Echo

If it had been another woman,

I could understand:

a warm bed, beating heart,

soft cheek, sure,

but a mirror?

4/30: For Hunter

I’m older, now, older than you were

on the night the car hit the tree, crumpled, left skids

on the road and you, lifeless.

Cousin, I confess, on the morning my mother

told me you were gone,

I only cried because I did not understand her tears.  Loss

took longer to arrive.  (When it came, it felt

like waiting for lights in the driveway, a phantom limb,

dinner getting cold.) 

Too young, too, for the funeral,

but the reception guaranteed that quiche would always taste

like grief.

Your dad still cries at grace and your brother’s hand

never quite recovered after he smashed that window

the year he out-aged you, too.  And I still count milestones

as I pass them, all the things I’m living

without you.