I write this poem
about you each day, 
and I will keep 
writing until it’s all 
out of me; squirming, 
sliding, writhing 
and dying—a hot, 
ink-snubbed mess, 
like the tentacle
of a squid you once 
caught in your net 
and hacked to bits 
on the deck 
until its suckers 
finally let go 
of your eager, 
stinking fingers.

HFA ©2013

Vienna Sausage Relationship Advice

Our dying relationship reminds me of a phrase Aunt 
always uses while pulling her pantyhose up each thigh 
as she dresses for Sunday church services- 

just like stuffing sausages into a can.

But, as you throttle me, shove your fingers 
into my mouth and then your fist, I cannot think; 
my mind plummets into an oxygen-starved void, 

a half-empty Vienna sausage can, choking 

on its own juices. You ask incessantly, 
Why are you making me do this to you? 
Why are you making me do this to you?

Your fist and slug tongue, probing my jawline, 

render it impossible to answer the violence
in your rhetorical question. You strangle, 
slap and gag me. Your fingers taste of iron-

the blood rubbed between my splitting lips. 

When you pause and loosen your stubby 
thumbs from my throat, I sprint like Hermes. 
I never quite understood the context 

of Aunt’s saying, but you taught me relationships 

are not just like stuffing sausages in a can. Instead, 
a relationship should be crammed with the delightful ardor 
of extracting mystery-meat cylinders, one by one delicately, 

as if each humble Vienna has an exquisite story to share. 


HFA ©2013

The END of the Relationship

Our relationship always reminded me of a phrase my aunt used while pulling each leg into her pantyhose before church- Just like stuffing sausages into a can.

But as you throttle me, shove your fingers into my mouth and then your fist, I cannot think of a damned thing. My mind is a black void, a half-empty Vienna sausage can, choking in its own juices.

You ask incessantly, Why are you making me do this to you? Why are you making me do this to you?

Your fist and then your slug-like tongue, probing my jaw, make it impossible to answer your question.

You strangle, slap and gag me, and your hand tastes of iron - the blood of my splitting lips. Finally, you pause and loosen your grip around my throat, and I run like I hadn’t had that pitiful fifteen-minute-mile in track in P.E.  in high school, like I was Hermes. 

You taught me that a relationship, indeed, is not anything like stuffing sausages in a can. It’s like removing them, one-by-one, with the care, so each has its own careful place, its own story to share.image

This Was Once a Love Poem

  by Jane Hirshfield

This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.

It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.

Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.

Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.

IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.

The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.

Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots. 
When it finds itself disquieted 
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.


Watching the Perseids meteor shower

Last night I saw two Perseids on the Parkway. They arrived from Cassiopeia and moved slow, like the pulling of a zipper. The second slid so low across the hulking shoulders of mountains I could see the emerald shudder of tail pursuing its emblazoned assailant. 

Soon the fog cloaked the valley and rose to lick the sky. I strained to hear meteors, wondering if they sounded like zippers or the rush of sea in a conch shell. 

Between tree trills of night keepers and suffocating fog silence, I held my breath. The bright visitors punched holes into the void, and I knew these moments cradled the Everything for which I had ever wished.

Car Crash 2007

When I look at my life, I tend to view it in a linear manner. This life proceeds along a dim line until I hit traumatic bursts and bangs, what I consider life’s paradigm shifts.

The car crash on January 4, 2007 warped me into one of those shifts. I look at my adult life in the ‘before’ or ‘after’ wreck time. One moment you are paddling, climbing, writing, driving, typing, and the next you are on a stretcher with some shredded excuse for an appendage.

The only lucid thoughts I had in those fluorescent moments rolling into the hospital were about how I’d bloodied my brand new Christmas outfit from my mother. Did they really need to cut the clothes from my body? Surely some Shout and Clorox could salvage this mess.

In the months after, I had to learn to write again, to bend my elbow and not to depend so heavily on painkillers and alcohol. I had to figure out how to trust (I was the passenger in the wreck) in the car, in my relationships and in the plates and screws fashioning my new forearm. I sacrificed a lot in the way of physical strength, which I had to replace with a new concept- determination.

I never realized I wanted to do a push-up until I couldn’t.

But, with the sacrifice and trauma and pleasure hiccups (or heart attacks) along this ephemeral life continuum, I gain invaluable experience. Humility can be so physically/emotionally painful but arguably the most valid reason for existing.

Even though my alien arm causes me tremendous trouble, the scars remind me that I’m still here and in Jane Kenyon’s timeless, knowing words, “It might have been otherwise.”

HA 2013

Heightened Alert - Michelle Manley

Heightened Alert - Michelle Manley


This verb, so small and dense, is my modus operandi as of late. I’ve been pushed physically and pushed mentally toward a precipice-of-no-return. I’ve pushed and shoved and continued to push toward this point I created in my mind.

The point past push is a black hole, a cocoon I’ve woven around myself in an attempt to metamorphose from the last vestiges of a dying relationship.

I want to chop the tentacles of his mind-grip at their base, to push them aside, wriggling madly. His suction cups blind-writhe toward my last touch, and I push beyond his advances like an afterthought. Let the black hole push any light-ridden memory from my brain.

Let me breathe; let me flail; let me push open my translucent, crimped wings. 

The Move

Tonight is a first 
evening spent 
in my new spot. 


Between an ardent 
mantra of tree frogs 
and cicadas 

and the box fan’s 
happy hum, 
finally I am home.

© 2013 HA


On Finding a Heat-Expired Spider on My Dashboard

Like arthritic hands
your slender green legs shrivel,
clutching the blank sky.

HA 2013