nc poetry

All posts in the nc poetry category

Life Boat Blues

Published November 27, 2021 by April Fox
I suppose it looks like
I should be drowning
in the proverbial sea of alcohol and tears
but let me tell you
Hank had nothing on me a few years ago and in the interim,
although it seems as though
I'd been saved and pulled aboard
a life raft crafted from his very skin, the truth is I had
carefully and willfully frozen the surface over and I could see
not long ago, the agony that I should feel and I confess
to having ordinary human
compassion and concern
for one I thought was hurting
(and admittedly, that was my mistake, but if those things make me a fool, I'll run the risk each time around)
but I was able to stand
above it all
and walk away
And perhaps I should apologize
for not reading the guidebook
The Modern Middle-Aged Woman's Guide to -- never mind
but the truth is, when it's been a life
of synapse hating synapse and of fighting every day
to keep myself and stay alive, I don't have time
for mindless reading
I'm so sorry
I don't care.

I don't have time to grieve
for things
that never even were

There's so much grief that's been required of me
now

There's no space left to mourn the ending
of some fanfic autobio.
And if I reached out for a hand
-- not the first
and by far not the only --
and let my hedonism rise and shift to
something like the taste of
coffee on a lazy Sunday morning
dark and sweet and lingering
forgive me if I choose this
over drowning
or sitting on the ice and staring down
at the shit below the surface
while I wished for something more.

Insomniac Storm Warning

Published November 7, 2021 by April Fox
He talks in his sleep
now and then,
a soft growl
low and deep, that wakes me up
for half a second
like distant thunder
that reminds me that
the storms are there
but miles away.
I'm too old
and cold
and tired
to have time to imagine things like fate
and deities and
predetermination;
karma is a privilege of the good, and the
universe is just a mass
of angry gas, but I have
learned
to heed the warnings and I am
grateful
to have listened when the
sirens all went off and I am not ashamed
to find myself here
sheltered from the rains
that weighed me down and nearly
made me drown.
Whatever's in the distance
has become quite self-contained
If it depletes itself or feeds itself and propagates again
is of no consequence;
there is shelter here
and peace within my walls.

Ain’t so Real

Published August 3, 2020 by April Fox

(They tell us)

Real women have cuuuurrrrrrrvesssss

-Gotta draw that out real slow, let the word trace along the edge of the

Fat thighs, round hips, breasts like balloons every little boy

want to die in

Real women look after themselves,

legs like stilts that hold up the pedestal balanced there,

low flat belly, chest like a smooth wave in the ocean

sharp cheekbones cut like ice if you aren’t

Perfect(ly made; don’t tell me

that’s a real woman)

Anorexic overeater tell you hormones make the lady

but that facial hair they say to shave says otherwise,

now don’t it?

(They tell us)

Real women take care of their own, work hard, bring that money home and

ain’t no real women go away all day and leave her kids.

Real women stand up for themselves, don’t take no shit

get that dinner ready on the table when your man gets home

Keep him fed

Feed him good.

(They tell us)

Real women don’t belong HERE in this restroom

Real as the ache of not being seen,

real as the ache of being questioned every day, from the inside,

Who am I, and why am I here?

Real as the knowledge that power comes from the pocketbook

and that your breasts are weapons to be feared

even if

they haven’t started yet.

Real as the leaves in the hair, the rocks in the knees on a dark dirt road cause you need

a place to stay that night

and when you’re fifteen,

nothing feels like home.

Real as the blood on the sheets, the blood on the arms, the blood on your face

waking up in tears

remembering.

Real as the day long hours wondering why you weren’t made

like all the other

Real Women

with their fat flat asses and their sharp smooth hips and their

curves worn damp with time

erased

Real like knowledge

Real like the mirror, waiting to look back

And feel complete.

Again.

Published October 17, 2018 by April Fox

In the middle of the night

he is lit from behind, the glow of the hall light

shining through his skin and I want to ask him

all the things that end in

Yes,

the things that someone else with

better words and softer, paler edges

could spin into the silk of romance and something like

forever but the night

is heavy with the weight of day and though I can see him

my eyes are closed and somehow I can only ask for the one thing

that’s immediate:

water.

When his shadow crosses mine again he brings me all the answers

in a paper cup

and holds it steady till I rise to drink.

Shot Gun.

Published October 13, 2018 by April Fox

This is where they’ll find you

tattered and sore

what did you think would happen when you opened

(your mouth

your eyes)

your legs?

This is where they’ll find you,

painted on smile, don’t open

your mouth

(your eyes

your legs)

he’s always been a good boy

I heard he had a perfect credit score.

This is where they’ll find you,

battered and whole

hands tied feet bare

silent asking

What did I think would happen

when I opened

(my mouth

my eyes)

my legs?

This is where they’ll find you,

mask on, hands off, clothes buttoned up

tight

What did they think would happen when you opened

(your mouth your eyes your legs

your mouth your eyes)

the chamber?

This is where they’ll find you

standing

on the mountain that they built

This is where they’ll find you

when they close their mouths

their eyes

This is where they’ll find you.

Pull the trigger.

March. 

Published March 24, 2018 by April Fox

First storm of the season rolling in

I should have know that it was coming. 

Dragging in on the tails of the snow that fought the rain this morning, it demands

to be acknowledged 

as the rightful owner of the season. 

The echoes shake the mountains, thunder bouncing off the land and back again and the lightning doesn’t touch the darkness

that’s been building now, for days. 

The clouds were heavy all day, heavy under the weight

of everything and when it rains

(it finally started up again, just now)

it isn’t anything

but the voiding of the sky. 

Losing October 

Published November 15, 2017 by April Fox

In my nightmares there is metal everywhere. 

The little one is hungry,

two-dimensional

I’m not sure if he’s real or a

creation of my 

imagination and the wires

the image projected flat

onto the glass —

The eyes are still the same. 

When he was broken, once

I carried him and had him cast. 

I am waking up and

waking up and

waking up and

not. 

When I finally sleep, I’m cradling

all the tiny things

Trying to keep the other ones

from tearing out their spines. 

Periwinkle Blue at 42

Published March 28, 2017 by April Fox

This is the age when I’m supposed to embrace myself,

to wrap my loving arms around my ego and my thighs and to

denounce the false ideals forced upon me by plastic fashion dolls

and runway models

built like I used to be, flat-assed, long-legged, stick limbs and a marked lack

of cleavage, false women who I heard

could not be real

and I was safe in my

imaginary skin.

This is the age when I should have my shit together

when I should have more than a pair of second-hand combat boots

and three more years to pay

on a car with missing hubcaps.

This is the age when I should walk

with confidence

full of all the wisdom

that I had at seventeen

head held high

wine glass in one hand,

the other reaching up to touch

my recently-trimmed hair

–I should have a girl who cuts my hair

and know the name of a restaurant

that accepts reservations

and doesn’t bring the food out

in red fake-woven baskets.

This is the age when I should pass

from weirdo to eccentric

when my t-shirts should be hip and retro

and not artifacts of life.

This is the age when I should know

what the fuck I should be doing, when I should

sleep

when people sleep and

feel

what people feel and know

by now

how to nod and smile and talk about the right things

at the right time

and my fingernails should not be painted black

for daytime and the kindergartener

swinging her legs

on the plastic chair

is grateful, perhaps

that at 42

she remembers that the best crayon

is periwinkle blue.

Domestic(ate).

Published March 15, 2017 by April Fox

Don’t leave that there for me to find.

I’ll never see it, hiding among the dirty dishes and the piles of laundry

dumped out and waiting to be folded

(worn

dumped

washed

dried

dumped

repeat)

and the half-empty ketchup bottle on the counter with the coffee filters

the Pine-Sol stench and the blue toilet water

sensory overload

is the vacuum broken again? The birds need fed.

The mud tracked in might lead me to it,

by way of the checkbook and the appointment reminders

tacked on to the fridge

scribbled in sharpie under David Bowie’s deadpan face

each rectangle numbered

counting up

and starting over

counting down

self-contained and endless

Don’t leave it there

I’ll sweep it up unseen

with the safety pins and the breading from last night’s chicken

and toss it in the trash can

with all the other things

that were never relevant.

Dregs

Published March 15, 2017 by April Fox

If you don’t believe I’m an optimist,

you’ve never seen me

at the tail end of winter

waiting

for the vagrants to drag their weary bones

across the lawn,

leaving trails of dust and grooves from worn-down heels

gaping mouths turned toward the clouds

praying

for rain

while the birds drop hulls

from angry beaks

into the wasted grass

and scream in indignation

at the bitter cross-wind blowing

Behind the glass I warm my hands

close my eyes and disconnect

the brain that tells me

this could be the last

cold night

This could be the last season

of waiting

to be warm.

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