backseat secret language

my sister ami and i wrote this together

1. i didn’t know i was supposed to pay attention
ami-queen says upon the approach of detail collaboration
lounged in blanket pile at 1:30am

2. deep-sleep interruptions brought
to us by digital i-thing drumming

3. my favorite part about the oatmeal was cherries
otherwise it would just taste like mush

4. exhaust fumes baked in
under san deigo sun
                                     block spf 30
smoothed over midwestern arms

5. sea cliffs signs warn: made of lace and porcelain
do not cross
our trespassing feet bring on the breaking down
the decomposition
the decay

6. lizardboy in wetsuit
provides cliffjumping lessons
for deliberating tourists
already shoulderpink at noonthirty

7. tree pose versus current-in current-out
water in
sand out
we plant ourselves on ground
washing out granule by granule from beneath

8. wave pummel meets pylon after pylon
under ocean beach pier
salt water orchestration
if i could think of that word for vocal (or other music) that is arranged this way
i would use it here

9. codeword peanut butter in the pasta aisle
at the register
in the produce cooler

10. bus stop street performance
how far are you going
man with dog half laughing asks
as if we’ve got our thumbs out at the edge of the interstate
as if the bus stop sign is some kind of drug front
where no one who knows what’s going on actually waits for a bus there

11. skateboard sidewalk click clack
deck decked out so it
glows green below
like an airplane pulling a banner, skateboy pulls in dusk backdrop scene

12. every time we catch each other uncannily
in the same posture/position/motion/pose
(hands clasped in lap on bus or
sweater dangling through left backpack strap)
we are both oddly pleased and yelling at each other to stoppit
proof that we are most likely sitting in the same position
or laughing at the same oddly orchestrated circumstance at the same moment
two time zones apart
proof that our backseat secret language still exists

13. a: i’m a faerie, not a witch
       f: why? what’s the difference?
       a: witches make potions. i don’t make potions.

words are meaningless

instructions for an interactive pulley system performance/installation:

words are meaningless
you are the last speakers of your language
using the materials given to you, communicate i love you

no sendbacks
must exchange every 20 seconds


1. in the dream, the captain
tells us to hold
on, we’re going under
instead of the instant boat-plunge
the ocean builds
a whirlpool wall
cyclone of 10 foot waves around us
i need to know, do we
hold our breath or not

2. soundbooth leftovers:
thanks for halving me
keep your story clean, no americans in it

3. like a sea anemone
i ride north
then west

4. how the waking is sometimes difficult
but the morning quiet
is reward enough

5. seashell installation
cara-cara desktop orange
leaving is another word for going
leaving is another word for staying

6. we work it out
best we can
with a pulley
plastic cups
binder clips
sun hung over our shoulders and
edging its way into our eyes
a little too chirstian camp here
a little too overdetailed there
we trim and rehash on repeat towards a better production

7. ai weiwei
disappeared by the chinese government
the scope of what can be said
some of us are dangerous writers/artists in not much real danger
others of us live in china

8. home
a roomshrine of nightbloomers
of jasmine
of white petals on blacklacquer
of handwritten notes taped to shoe-horns
of made beds and collections of kindnesses

9. loudest pretzel bag on earth
(made from vegetables)
oceanwards while we walktalk
back towards our pedagogical exchange procedures

rose icecream i’d think of you

1. i gather grass from canyon-yard outskirts
place it in your palm or on denim knee
you feed fingertip greens through wire fence
the feathered layers
the bright red waddle

2. parkrunning through post-easter massacre:
plastic greenshredded ‘grass’ littering trail-edges like clumps of hair
neon plastic eggs halved and smashed to bits that will be buried or ocean-floated on the verge of but never breaking down
confetti mylar shreds glinting back

3. over egg stack sandwiches
late breakfast early lunch
guacamole, micro-basil, romaine
lynda barry
schools us on poetry

images carried across centuries

4 when the need arises
to break dishes
safeword: dinnerplate

5. as if on long-term echo/delay
a little respect
on play at home
then twenty minutes later
breezing through coffee shop screen door

6. your denim vest a treasure
map of patches
never have i broken a needle while handsewing
but you
taurus bull
succeed in snapping metal

7. after wandering the block
we choose persian
baba ganoush
yogurt cucumbers
rose icecream and baghlava
turkish coffee in a metal espresso mug
if you weren’t here and i was eating this (rose ice cream)
she says

i’d think of you

8. jasmine
or some kind of blossom you name a nightbloomer
their scent spring sicksweet filling room
after dark

9. in chicago
she tells me
a holiday of animal deaths
live bunnies and ducklings
tossed from open vehicle windows
along the midwestern highways

no one loses in an orangezest fight

1. we discover that the word mistress
originally from the french maistresse, feminine of miastre (master)
changed from female teacher, governess in the 14th century to

a woman who employs others or has authority over servants
in the early 15th century to

kept woman of a married man

2. purple
plastic eggs tucked in the landscaping of
my favorite flowering front yard on the block
we pluck them from wild grasses and flowering succulents
only to see what’s insde
but we do not take

3. in case it might rain
you request neither
an umbrella nor raincoat

4. what if we pretended
i say
that everyone we see today celebrates easter
and we are the only ones who do not
except for that one guy ahead of us on the sidewalk alsoeveryone else walks past
in pastels
bouquets in their hands

5. a packet
of micro-basil
in taylor’s hands
qualifies as one of the best
tiny offerings

6. sweet tree farmstand
she rings already halfpriced navel, cara caras and tangerines
at an extra discount
because she likes us
and it is mutual

7. in between the church entrance and the
farmers market entrance
our orangzest fight
you pretty much win
by taking the offense as a form of defense
peel scraps shoved down front of sweater
too many times to count
while i succeed at slipping zest scrap
into the curve of your ear
each of us takea blow to the face
in the name of good sportspersonship
tossing the dirted scraps in the tallgrass
on our walk home
in the tall grass
we need oxygen to breathe

8. what it is like
to fall asleep on the risefall of your chest
my sneakers squeaking against hardwood with each slumber twitch
9. you on your grocerystore knees
white linoleum underneath
the only way to see far back into the shelf of
discounted easter candy

10. tortilla soup collaboration
we pass the sharpest knife
back and forth

11. datura flower
hung from loft bed
fills room
with spring powder yellow trumpet hawaii flashback pollen-filled scent

horsepants and heels on parade

1. waffles with tiny blueberries
in under 30 minutes
a kind of fire drill composition
before noon

2. armed with broom
and reporting to spiderweb duty
i ask forgiveness before clearing
in the case that home was still inhabited

3. in a sunflooded backyard
turned bikeshop
turned bedclearing
turned fava harvesting
we share water and
potatobug-eaten strawberries

4. a swift report from balboa park
flying around me as if they were ants
and i’d stepped into their desert ants nest

5. feeding you favas
double shelled
from the harvest while you
lean in

6. there’s a good chance we might
have met in the mailroom
given our predispositions to sorting and bundling

7. quarter pint of icecream passed up and down the couchline
while an unknown king ties a star to a tree

8. waffleprint horsepants on parade
plus tennis shoes and heels in a sidewalk percussion performance
a shoe-horn makes all the difference

9. astro-turf lawn
shining in night-light
it wouldn’t surprise me
if they actually watered this

sometimes a banjo is mistaken for a tennis racket

1. when you’re dead, you’re dead
in a mom email
she shares
this phrase grandma said once on the way home from st. cyril’s
how she couldn’t help but laugh at it
and grandma couldn’t help but laugh either
and sometimes, it would be the right moment
to say it again
you know, just like you said ‘when you’re dead, you’re dead’
another spontaneous eruption of laughs

2. right when we rounded the jack-in-the-box corner
you flew
from red schwinn to concrete
arms outstretched like superman
as if the husk cape had reappeared and you
were wearing it while
skidding to a stop on your knee
there is no better reason for doublethick denim
than this
black pedal
hand held and tucked into messenger bag

3. overheard:
a: i mean
it’s only the resurrection
b: this is a roadmap
not a syllabus

4. hangry
is one way of saying it
is another
like opera singing under water
like a video projection
when all i want is the real thing

5. tucked against the giant jade and picket white

we talk
about sadness
detailing its gradients and textures

6. maybe it isn’t even so much about the words
as it is about the delight of filling a sideyard
on a san diego spring night (cool enough to wear a sweater
but warm enough that my ankles are exposed and not cold) with chairs,
amp and mic with music stand and clip-lamp
and maybe it isn’t even so much about all of us
around the words
the small light
the table full of sliced oranges and wine
but about those who are sidewalking past
craning heads over hedge
i can sense the registering somehwere in their subconscious
i imagine them thinking as they head bar-ward
now that is poetry

7. sometimes a banjo is mistaken for a tennis racket
and sold at play-it-again sports for 5dollars
and sometimes a stovetop two-cup espresso maker
is confused for a lamp and sold at a thrift store
for fifty cents

8. as many slices of cara cara
that would make up an entire orange
for dinner
and i am still

leatherstitched union

1. nightcollected offering flowers
mason jarred on desktop
you turn porchprince from a noun
to a verb

2. kidvoice fills university hallway
enters sterile office
kid frame held up in open palms
is it ok to lift you?

3. saddleshoes revisited
we wonder
if anyone
ever puts footwear on like this
cradling of an ankle

4. we chickenstrut housecircles
in our leatherstictched union

5. skip-pausestepping down sidewalk
arm in arm
approaching woman with brimmed hat says
i thought you two might start doing the laverne and shirly
laughing her laughing us we pass and erupting into
sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated
we’re gonna do it
all three of us tossing our laughs back over our shoulders towards each other

like salt

6. over hot salsa and never-ending tortilla chips plus fake flickering candle
we find the finer points of limb-lounging appeal to us

i’ll need more hands than this

1. dreams:
talking with madonna (THE madonna,
but one would never know from her disheveled down-to-earthness)
about my busdriver crush (a girl who looks like she grew up
how my dad grew up)
in a 100student lecture, someone says outloud in french
how x is a boring “shitty” teacher without realizing x
was still there i’ll need more hands than this x says
(for holding) but recomposes and handles it sternly
like a champ
a marching band files through a campus under construction

2. smell of pink jellybeans at the corner
of monticello and fourth

3. it’s as if
i say
i went into your closet when you weren’t looking
and when you found me
in one of your outfits
your confusion
of thinking i’m you
for half a second

4. dismantling my literary super-ego
six kilometers at a time
a tray of beads
a chalkboard questionnaire
the poems that we could look at from 100 miles away
and still know
that they are yours

5. why make art? why write?
myung mi kim asks
it is the possibility
that makes it urgent to try
the burden (of never finding the words) is the one i want
the struggle is it

6. at this zenith
this point of coming together
an overlaying
a bright light going on
a kind of parallel to when one
is learning a new language and finally
begins dreaming in it