© 2010 Chloe Roth, All Rights Reserved

1. Apollo and Daphne

Daphne deathly pale approached the edge of the great river

Out of breath and fleeing from her horror and delight

Desperately she begged it to relieve her of her body

And hardly had she finished when her limbs grew ossified

Her arms turned numb and heavy as they stretched into strong branches

As the delicate Bay bark closed over her soft breasts

Her hair as wild as ever now was leaves rustling in the wind

Her head became a treetop in which birds could build their nests

Her toes had turned to roots forever rooted to the river

Everything was gone except her shining and her grace

No longer felt the chill of water lapping at her feet

Salty tears of penitence rolled down Apollo’s face

And since he loved her still he placed his hand where he was hoping

Embraced the twisted twigs as if they were still Daphne’s limbs

Relieved that underneath the bark he felt her beating heart

He kissed the wood but as he did the wood shrank from his lips

Apollo could not let her go

Obsessed in reverie

Said “Since you’ll never be my bride

At least my tree you’ll be”

Remember that the river which had granted her that wish

Was her father living mighty ‘mongst the water and the fish

It had given too much pleasure it had eaten her alive

So she exclaimed “destroy and change” this body no more mine

2. Wingnut

Mosquito nets

Forbade those pests

From feasting on my skin

The problem was

Their bothersome buzz

Unkept from creeping in

My baby chick

Did not hatch quick

But lingered in his shell

Then Wingnut emerged

As I was on the verge

Of ringing that little bird’s death knell

And Julia do you remember that one afternoon

We sat upon the carpet in your mother’s living room

Staring at the massacre that we had justly wrought

The pieces of that purple centipede that we had chopped

Its head had scurried towards us and away from us its tail

The kitchen knife strewn haplessly and gleaming at our pale

Faces that had never killed before so brutally before

But our parents said that we’d done good and so we killed some more

I’d bellyache

Demand a break

From picking macadamia nuts

Faint and fatigued

I’d feign with ease

A fever or a minor cut

My callused feet

The red dirt and heat

My arms dotted pink with calamine

Watered my bonsai trees

In the humidity

When sister came to tell me Grandpa died

And Brianna do you ever recall after school each day

We’d climb up on the trampoline and jump the day away

Finally we’d just go limp collapse onto our backs

And listen to the roosters crow their cackles wane and wax

We scratched our bug bites ‘til they bled and stared into the sky

At the bubbling spots amoeba-like that floated in our eyes

And Aurora was our sometimes mother calling us inside

And we’d dash barefoot to the yurt for your mom’s tofu pie

3. Island of Snakes

You wrote me a letter I never returned

An attempt at apology long ago spurned

Now in the worst possible way I have learned

To forgive before you’re robbed of goodbye 

To say thank you before you say bye

I think that we’ve all entertained the idea

Of turning the steering wheel left

Of oncoming traffic as our sweet release

But that thought quickly passes like breath

It normally passes with a breath

You put holes in your lungs so they’d match your big heart

Whose hollows we did not perceive

We threw aces of spades in your grave but we still

As they filled that hollow space could not believe

I don’t think we’ll ever believe

We peddled together no distance too far

And climbed rocks no matter how tall

It’s quiet today in LA and the Bay

Even Bosnia’s mosques will recall

Silently Bosnia recalls

There was the lake with the island of snakes

Forever fearless you took the first dive

The irony now of that Sarajevo night

The bridge where Ferdinand took his last drive

The first dive and last drive

Aces of spades in the spokes of our wheels

Like initials carved into a tree

Our bikes decorated like heroes of war

Playing cards spin ‘round for bravery

When peddled a pinwheel of memories

It rained down a shower of green leaves and glass

Trees breathe out so that we can breathe in

Two lives were lost amid metal and grass

That tree and you exhaled in unison

Collided and exhaled in unison

There are three strangers who now walk this earth

With parts of your body inside

And though each of us carries a part of you too

They’d not have lived had you’d not died

They’d not have survived if you not died

There’s a thin line between nightmares and dreams

It had wrapped itself tightly ‘round you

You asked if a person can come back from this

And we just did not know what to do

I wish we’d known what to do

4. Georgia Peach

I laid down right next to you, upon your sheetless bed

And I told you that my favorite part of the human body is

The velvet ridge that separates the bottom lip from skin

And I showed you how faces dissolve, when pressed chin to chin

My thumb would trace topographic trails around your mouth

Mine tasted of the Pacific and yours of the deep south

Whose lips could linger longer on the other’s was our game

Your pout like the grand canyon, but uncharted and unnamed

Before you I had never really been drawn to blue eyes

From them how could I have known what lay broken inside

At work you’d close the door and throw your phone against the wall

You raged hurricanes and everything was always someone else’s fault

“I like to drink and do dangerous things” is all you say

You simply shrug in silence as the months approach the drain

I stop them with my toe and play them once more through my mind

See you hateful and affectionate, Jekyll and Hyde

I urgently craved urgency but got complacency at best

You only pulled me in on nights when moonshine hugged your breath

Now I miss you foolishly the way a wound might miss a leach

You fell morose and mute each time your ego bruised like a Georgia peach

5. Bows & Arrows

I fear I fear you’ll disappear without knowing the weight of your being

Silver ring carved in my palm and your laughter ringing and ringing

Earplugs drown the outdoors but still your voice inside as my bearing

Compass calibrated points south in the desert I can hear you singing

And I wonder if you’re sober if you’re over the simple and shiny

Or if you’ve taken to the sea like a pirate tipsy and briny

Or the forest for a fleeting moment of clarity climbing

Clandestine and hovering in the treetops prickly and piney

Shockwaves shake my floorboards I lift them up to find all your letters

Stamps unstamped unsent for fear that you’d blanch at my feelings unfettered

Yellowing like a dry cocoon like the moon warns of ominous weather

I think to myself all the things that I felt and my cheeks grow redder and redder

It was the worst way that I ever felt but I felt that at least I felt loved

The last time I saw you were bearded I baited you bid you farewell with a hug

Solemn and sullen as always you’d fallen for someone who’d once been so close

I hoped you felt hopeless my whole moral compass was cracking in front of my nose

For your target practice was a willing actress I faced you and fell from the start

No apples were perched on our heads bows and arrows we pointed at each other’s hearts

The dirt under your nails

The happy trail

I never tread upon with shaking fingers

Instead they shook before

I slammed each door

Your disappointed face forever lingers

Mocking me to shame

Still to this day

I can't forgive you for forgiving me those things

Which kept you at bay

Always at arm’s length

Of loving touchless we had become queen and king

Your pulsing pregnant eyes

Gave birth to sights

Which I was always much too weak to witness

But you screened them first

Swallowed the ghosts

Sucked the poison out of every crevice

So don’t you dare stand up

Your skull will rupture

On stalagmite horns those rocky thorns

They threaten from above

Or from below

The difference from stalactites this I ought to know

You told me so

Those years ago

A drunken elegy I hastefully ignored

For as you poured

Each drink a war

Whiskey whisking you away from this here myth

The volume of our senseless song could never reach that of thunder

I erred the day I pulled away, yes, that was my life’s biggest blunder

I puckered like a porcupine and your patience it burst asunder

The day you raised your flag I felt my heart had been pillaged and plundered

6. Murphey’s Law

Listen to Lyssa as we all, your ghost bike, surround

Like ashes we’ll scatter the party mix over the ground

And your folks will unfurl in their home far away from your friends

These two worlds will separately mourn but together you’ll orbit our heads

An avalanche fell on New York on October eighteenth

The gloom falls too early and much too real on this Halloween

We’ll dress up like cacti and celebrate you in sombreros

But the couch it feels cold it’s a hungrier world without you

You walked us home each time darkness would threaten to fall

A gentleman guard for this life you were deemed too evolved

We swear off the drink so we think but we’re silly with grief

Not just flowers but half of our hearts on that corner we leave

We are so young and so dumb and we think that the world ahead

Is waiting for us to arrive with a bed made and arms outstretched

In our heads we’re invincible ride with no helmets or brakes

Walk on edges of buildings scare our friends just so we feel alive and awake

Hands laden with candles their wicks casting shadows we walk

By the billion march brethren and strangers alike fill the blocks

The streetlights hold vigil and echo our white points of light

Five boroughs ablaze with your face made eternal tonight

Tragic the trumpets will sound as our tears mix with laughter

We are here in the now but we now can't escape the hereafter

We know that the hug life and Brooklyn they suited you well

We are livid and lost we’re alive but we’re living in hell

7. Wormwood

My little heart jumped at each thump on the windowpane heard

And the palms of my hands are abundant with moribund birds

Twas this song which like spiders my fingers crawled across the keys

For poetry at the piano I lied through my teeth

Lo and behold you died thus in my palms the next day

Fatally wounded I cradled you faded away

Mother said you

And your death offered proof

Of the palpable power of words

But I’d gladly give back

Every fictional fact

That I write for the lives of you birds

Whereas first you just fell and we put you back where you belong

Our act of benevolence silenced your un-begun song

Above the front door to the floor from your nest you were nudged

Alas, neither soap nor a glove could undo what we’d done

Since then I’ve learned of the musk of us large flightless things

How the human scent’s fatal to those of you orphaned with wings

Your tiny talons got tangled beneath the birch tree

Stuck in the sprinkler a sparrow had spoken to me

As father approached you were flustered and fearfully flapped

But he held you, his pocketknife prying you from that strange trap

An alley cat clawed at your cage while you healed from your wounds

You were scared half to death and the other half just followed suit

So a flight you might feign

I could carve you a cane

From a twig that fell down from your nest

But instead I must make

In the garden a grave

Dig it deep so in peace you may rest

With a dropper I’d drip forty drops of wormwood on my tongue

You made sure at the end of two weeks any worm would be gone

I awoke to a flutter and bang and was utterly stunned

All windows secured couldn’t conjure from whence you had come

Upon my white pillow was plucked from my plumage by fear

A downy brown feather a weathered but real souvenir

8. The Duel, feat. Christopher Chu

You were always the smartest one

The bravest and the boldest one

Who loved the hardest and the most

Who pushed us far and pulled us close

But we have signed on dotted lines

And crossed the line on deals we signed

We break the promises we make

And lose the prisoners we take

Six years of kneeling down

My knees are bruised and calloused now

From loving you without condition

But with a surgeon’s slow precision

I cut the cord that held me there

A loose balloon but without air, air

The mesh over our eyes pulled back

And callowly we cast attacks

Fencing like medieval foes

Love’s underbelly lies exposed

The armor falls when you come near

The jousting stops, reveals my fear

For you to know I’ve worshipped you

But the rapier has gotten through

Six years of kneeling down

My knees are bruised and calloused now

From loving you without condition

But with a surgeon’s slow precision

I cut the cord that held me there

A loose balloon but without air, air

9. The Puppeteer

A woman’s dreams imagined

In minutiae twice a day

Dolls enact each task enacted at night

And at the matinee

Thus lived a lonely lady

Once removed from human life

Her hands alone achieved to be

A mother and a wife

The puppeteer is beautiful

And the strings are tough to spy

The puppets move so gracefully

Swinging from so high     

The chip upon her shoulder

Fell with domino effect

Upon those of her minions

Whose fate she does project

And now she has a marching army

To follow where she goes

Strings attached invisibly

To raise their knees and toes

The puppeteer is beautiful

And the strings are tough to spy

The puppets move so gracefully

Swinging from so high     

Jaunty little figurines

Their jointed elbows dangling

Brittle bodies made of trees

Ash, oak, and mahogany

The tiny button closures on their clownish costumes clash

With the fact they cannot button them with lifeless wooden hands

Without her thumbs and pinkies animating them to dance

In suitcases sleep head to head like sardines tightly packed

The strongest of the clan even

Collapsed a coltish heap

Hovering down at her hem

Floundering at her feet

The puppeteer is beautiful

And the strings are tough to spy

The puppets move so gracefully

Swinging from so high     

They cannot wink nor eyelids blink

They sleep awake they stare and shake

The theatre seats will gasp and roar

The puppeteer recoils some more

Leads them from behind the scenes more scared of life than death

They hang upon her every word await with bated breath

The dolls and audience alike hypnotically transfixed

Both flesh and wood were gullible and easily convinced

Slack-jawed and limp as rags

With holes drilled right through their heads

Lashes flicker fleetingly

Simulated seamlessly

The master of the marionette is known as the manipulator

A title fitting fingers flitting shameless now but later

She’ll awake one day arthritic hands this gesticulator

For years she hovered high about the stage an impersonator

© 2010 Chloe Roth, All Rights Reserved

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