No news here since the last famished
liberation, I’ve settled in silence
and the odd letter, embroidery
no one can see. When all you wanted
was bright bonnets and quaint skirts,
you got a skint knee and rue
prim as trimmed whiskers
to pass on to me along with
the magic of wash-and-wear.
Now we know you were the brave one,
now we know what that cost.
I’ve not forgotten how you sewed
my clothes–a velveteen collar on
a little coat, a flowery button on
a sleeve–or how your mother
made a quilt from what was left
of all you’d made for me. If only
you’d taught me gratitude and
how to scry unspoken expectation,
I’d not be so sorry now for all
the things that then I didn’t know.


cave painting horses BW light
a mark, a line, a here, a there
here and not there, there but not here
other lines–shaman’s lines–
for the unseen elsewhere
the neither here nor there
lines for things that move
through time and space–
food that must be chased and
other animals to do the chasing on
red lines for women and men and
our hands or visitors from other tribes
with impressive headgear
things we ran to or ran from
multiplied to put them inside time
lines for things remembered while we
waited for better weather
lines to call things to us, to worship
to cast spells, lines to hinge hopes on
to plan for crops or battles
lines we drew to plant a future in a past
dirt with gold in it or deep bruise blue
horses limned so precisely in motion
they’d break your heart to ride



bloodletting luttrell psalter crop strtch

between walk and fall
the little skin wants
a cut that can’t be crossed
a between wide enough
to breathe in even if
there’s not much living
on the other side
just more red edge
and less convincing
hurt seeping back into
every place you cut
to let it out

image: detail, Lutrell Psalter, British Library

Doll Dreaming 14

in the doll’s house
the doll’s dolls are dreaming
they’re awake
so little difference
nightmare and day

climb the stairs
you’re in the basement
pick up a phone
you’re gripping a knife

farther in takes you
farther out
no telling which till
there’s no going back

when the doll’s got you
looking out or looking in
stage light is
the only light you see

the demon isn’t dreaming
he won’t leave without the girl
he’s working the closet locks
cursing them like a mortal man
as if words could do and undo

sudden light
the girl’s awake
an open door

and all kinds of places
where the doll
cannot go





Doll Dreaming 13

woman little men schembart carnival 1590 public domain rev - strtch mod

Dolly Dum-Dum

the doll has men
a bird-man
a yes-man
a hench-man
a made man
a man with a mighty big
something for beating

she counts on them
when she doesn’t want
dirt to show on her
little dolly dress

the doll’s men
think they owe her
when she owns them
they think they
think the thoughts
she thinks for them
think they’re aiming
when she aims them
where she wants them to go

if they get out of line
she has the kind of whip
they can’t see coming
but mostly they stay
wherever she pleases:
long chain, short leash

when she’s got her
spook on hard like now
they’re her special forces
they’re her posse
pony up, boys
it’s time
to ride somebody down

the doll’s men are dreaming
they’re stand-up men

the doll is measuring
how far their ambition
lets her knock them down

image: Public Domain Review:

Doll Dreaming 12

12. In the Doll’s House

the guy is bored
he’s slow
and alone
can’t move in that
shiny sharp
he wanted so much
and where’s
the damn doll

the doll has been busy
refurbishing the racks
reforging chains
sharpening anything
with an edge

and spooling out
extravagant wordage
about her busy
about how busy
her busy self is
where she’s busy
being busy now
where she’ll be
being busy next

the doll is not
into information
her creatures know
her notifications
are threats

she moved the girl
into a supply closet
a few days back
there the girl now
searches in the dark
through dirty rags
and dusty stuff
no longer
whatever it is

no key
but a dress
and a gun
without agency
she thinks
her only hope

the dress fits better
than the sack
but the gun
might as well be
a safety pin
and no
she doesn’t know
about the demon

the demon is asleep
in the green room
dreaming the girl
isn’t there

the house dreams
it’s a peony
its walls frilling
in the air


Doll Dreaming 11

11. Door Dreams

the door is dreaming
it has no side
what goes in goes out
or rather there is
no way out
the doll’s confabulations
are the only real thing

trying to escape
one enters distances
where familiar things
limn one’s demise
a chair becomes a whole
country of torturers
a kitchen knife a
killer’s blade a sink
a place for drowning
a place to sleep
a smothering bed

many ways
to the same end
still the doll would
rather wrecks
of distinct proportions
like texting mobs of
easily pissed off men
to make people
so inch by inch
they are nothing
and she is

the demon is dreaming
not of capture
but of things set free
novel concept for
a sworn snare
he even weeps to know
what waits when the door
shakes from its hinges
a battered gate
an endless chain

to long for freedom
then to fear it
being everything



Doll Dreaming 10

10. The Room Is Dreaming

the room is dreaming
outside itself
it cannot contain
or rescind
locked inside too long
there’s no more outside
no matter
how much room
the room has or
what room you’re in

the doll can make you
think the room is everything
can make it so tight
even the body has
no space left inside
can make it so large
that being dissipates
nothing in here
nothing out there

but something
always escapes
her needling
her hacks
turn on her
in her dreams

the doll demands
impossible recompense
from creatures who have
never done her harm
demands the last
rib bone and pin
she gets on
like a ratcheted clamp
to get her off
you have to
lose some skin

the doll is dreaming
she is looking out
but her mask is always
looking in
sizing her up
cutting her
down to size
no room large
or small enough
in the end



Doll Dreaming 09

09. Doll Parts

the doll’s favorite part
is when you think you’ll get away
she knows you won’t
you know you will
there’s nothing else
to know

the doll rules
the doll’s house
but the doll knows
only what she’s made
marble, rubble
dreamer, doll
the doll herself
a dangerous thing

you are dreaming
you are the girl
the girl is dreaming
dreaming, dreaming
the demon is away
a threaded needle
an unexpected blade

the doll is standing
out in the rain

who is standing
behind the doll


Doll Dreaming 08

08. The Demon Is Dreaming

the demon is dreaming
the roof’s off the house
he’s up in the sky looking down
the house is breathing
floors rise and fall
walls shudder doors fly shut
the audience gasps
it’s alive

the doll’s dolls are milling about
in ragged clusters
waiting for the faces
that will please the doll today
the guy is wrapped in barbed wire
lots of loud asking
if the wire can be electrified
or even just heated up in
some skin-searing way

the doll
smug malice
nailing her puppet
to a rickety balustrade
idly wondering
burn now or burn later
with the girl

busy busy been recruiting
friends of the girl to assist
in the girl’s undoing
just thinking about it makes
her hinges buzz and vibrate
she’s hungry for the girl’s face
when the girl knows
people she thought she knew
are not there to help
but to watch
and take turns

the girl’s been in the green room
the past three weeks years lifetimes
when she sleeps the demon
watches over her
what is he thinking

the doll thinks she’s trapped the demon
thinks he’s on ice for leisurely
amusement later on
but his big sleek self
is ranging all over the place
seeking even minor opportunities
to mess with the knock-knock
mind of the doll
the self-made queen
of this backwater fiefdom
where he’s been posted
for five centuries
apparently forgotten
when pieces of hell
were outsourced
to industrious amateurs
like the doll

the doll’s in a writhing dream
what a thrill
nobody is the boss of the doll

the demon is dreaming
the girl will be the only creature
ever in the universe
glad to see him

how shocking
he’s feeling
something he imagines
must be tenderness
may be love

09 Doll Parts

01 The Doll Is Dreaming …..02 The Dress Is Dreaming ….. 03 The Girl Is Dreaming ….. 04 The House Is Dreaming ….. 05 The Guy, Dreaming …..06 The Gun Is Dreaming ……07 Dolly Doll Doll Dreams…..

Doll Dreaming 07

07. Dolly Doll-Doll Dreams

the dolls are dreaming
ratcheting gears in
once human heads
now just click-click-click
a bicycle wheel and cards

the doll is making a long-range
plan for the mophead maidens
and men she’s made but
she frets at it till
it’s all just safety pins
and chewed up lace

the doll has a puppet
poked out its eyes
stuck her tongue in its brain
on high occasions she
props it up and
chatters from behind it
through a hole in its face
shows she’s the boss of it all

she’s a hammer
she’s a handy candlestick
she’s a heavy ashtray from
a Perry Mason set
copper piping a 2 x 4 a
rolling pin a baseball bat
rebar a cast iron pan
a bowling trophy statuette
so much bludgeoning to do
to keep her dolls in line

tomorrow it’s cutting
she’s a boning knife
a switchblade a
nail gun shark teeth
skewers broken
window glass

the dolls are dreaming
indigo scrim

the house is dreaming
endless rain