heavily father,

I can’t imagine myself 

swimming. I can’t imagine myself 

“having a good time” at the beach.

    you know,

    the way people sway their hips and their words—


god, I fear you’ve 

licked my back and the saliva will never dry.

    you’ve pressed your thumb on my eye 

    socket—all I can see are bruises.


I met a silent 

man, a poem of solid brick.

    his sister could hear her 

    voice paint-crack on 

    him, her hair on his shoulder.


O, I fear 

    you are a humid god.


swallows—the ones that make 

clay enclosures and their shiz never dries—built their nest 

on my chest, that stuck through a wall-hole.

    I confess, after the eggs hatched, I slowly 

    stepped away from that wall.

father, felt a womb for a change.


god, I’ve seen

    the wet sky swell with 

green, heard my mother yell 

    get inside. later I ran 

back outside, looked at 

the tornado and said, “god, 

    if you’re in there, I am scared of you.”


so, lord, I’ve been 

    mapping bodies of water along my street

    seeing the faces of moses, elias, jeremiah and job

    letting my children play with prophet faces in the gutter

    bathing only from rain-filled, grandma-filled, ornithologist-filled birdbaths 

        and then, finally, imagining myself

    rushing the waves of the ocean

    breaking my back against the motion

    saying “damn you! damn you, jesus!”

    fearing that you can’t hear my anger, lord,

        that you only hear my happy prayers

        that you won’t let me burst upon you.