hobart logo
Three Poems photo

lady bug
after Terese Marie Mailhot

let me kill every Good Man
                                                          and laugh when i do

an unsurprising 
                                          autopsy to follow

let me drill down to the buried stone of who they cannot 
admit they are 

              it will not yield water 

it will drip 
a heavy 

let me say all the Good Men are dead   it’s 

more oxygen in staff meetings now

young girls walk alone 
at night and 

                               laugh from their bellies, sing 
                               in jungle gym voices 
                               to cradled stars 

in three generations 
let us forget 

that dead-eyed look of disgust 
Good Men are so good 
at giving us

a Good Man is promised the kingdom of heaven

if i am grayer 
than gold 

and honey, if my hands cannot 
unbraid from him 

hallelujahs, what am I 
good for 


the unfussiest blow job in silence 

I have to leave (let me)
for work 

here my valentine 
ass         my merciless face 

                              his only chess move 

doggie style



 Dear Rage,
thanks to Elaina Ellis and Maisha Manson

The first time I tell someone about my stepfather’s abuse, 
it is to ask a priest to forgive me 
for being enraged by it. 

Rage :: day-old 
sweat on unwanted skin, descending 
cage. I keep you 

in the wings, sing most of the songs without looking 
at you. I could be nicer. It is cold, and I think 

men are warmer than you – I can’t scare a single one away.

Rage, I look like this: 

                           ::  bloodless island 
                           ::  soft-cheeked monkey 
                           ::  ingles language learner

We were never supposed to partner.

My stepfather’s face 
looks like unloved ass: red, stubbled, peeling. 

Rage :: chair in the hospital room to throw at his face
          :: block of kitchen knives one floor above my bed         
          :: pimply girl I could not sit with at lunch, you dragged me out of that house party

                            At a training, the facilitator asks 
when our families began treating us like adults. 

                           answers: When I made moneyWhen I got marriedHasn’t happened yet

                           my answer: When they became afraid of me.

I :: path cleared by cannonballs
  :: bar brawl with wolves
  :: Manila lightning, underwater in lighter fluid

On the Intake Application at the Sliding Scale Counseling Clinic,
I Am Asked if I Would Prefer a Therapist of Color

I don’t want to appear high-maintenance,
which I think yes would convey.

I write on the blank: Preferred
but am flexible, given the right fit.

A week later, I learn my therapist’s name
is Kelly.                                    
                                                       She is wh*te.

She walks into the lobby, her hair in free-
               tumbling waves.
She wears a long, flowy skirt from either a spring break (!) immersion trip 
               to Tijuana or the fair trade (<3) boutique in Roosevelt Square.
She invites me to read her bio which notes all the time she spent 
                building houses in Haiti (^ ^).

This is what replaces a person of color.

Kelly (an intern) likes to say she is angry, as if she knows 
              well enough to be.

I say my mother told me I wasn’t her daughter.
               She says, I am so angry for you.

I say my boyfriend raised his voice at me this morning.
                I am so angry for you.
                I feel so protective of you.

                She is here,
should I need someone
to stand up for me.

I tell her, I’m getting anxious. I’m not sure 
what we’re accomplishing

She wants me to stay.

Right now each patient is a lesson unit 
in her last course before graduation.

I wonder who her other patients are, 
              if she feels 
like she’s found 
               new terrain
                                       with me.

For seven weeks, every patient I see in the waiting room 
                                                                         is wh*te,

with long, straight 
hair, fitted jackets, 
               and skinny 
black boots that 
               look like 
they get replaced 
every year.

I wonder if I diversify Kelly’s collection.



                mother in prison


I wonder if she needs me in her office
like she needed the people of Haiti
in her 2012 travel blog.

I am land, fat with purpose. In her eyes, I am 

We might not be a good fit, I say. She does not want me 
               to go.

She says, Conflict is part of therapy!
               Being in conflict with her will be useful to my life!

I say, I do not want to pay to argue with you.

                          She asks,
What about being angry feels 

She asks me, 
barring the doorway,

                               white woman,
                               bleached charity,

what about being angry at her feels un-

don't I believe she wants the best 
                                                                    for me?            


image: Laura Gill