Heritage Speaker

What good is it to erect
of absence
a word
like radiator
when we've vents
that expel heat
as air.

When I teach my daughter
to speak
and build a woman
out of me
that is not her mother
but some propriety.

A treason of simple
subjects, I never had use
in Spanish for the word
and then
"woke up and a horse
was staring at me." (Joe Brainard)

cooled, this diction dumb
in either
tongue. But what
is a mother's warmth
if not her wit?

Bernadette "turns to me
in the shower" and says
motherhood is now
fashionable among
the girl poets. If so, I want
my hat, a feather in it.
Mallarmé's, in fact.

Mise en garde

Danger the bird will by-pass her cot
Danger of seeming nonchalant
Danger in knowing the spill of consumption
Danger in blood and its familiar trenches
Danger in anger and dangle and gerund,
            gender and candy
            and absent grandparents
Danger we'll forget to tower the princess
Danger in hair that grows its assistance
Danger we'll parent with cultish fervor
Danger in Sears or Spock or Ferber
Danger in despots and kindly old ladies
Dangers that thrive in arid climates
Danger our daughter will never learn bus routes
Danger of the curb and the cars and the costumes
Danger her speech foreign to our own
Danger we'll mirror each other in tone
Danger of insistence spelled kin and existence
Danger my mother will shred the board's minutes
            (No one will know I was once one of them)
Danger of lobes puritan and savage
Danger we'll become like all the others
Danger the beautiful names of poisons:
            Aromatics, aromatics, all around us
Danger she'll be crushed by our identity theories
Danger it keeps us from watching a movie
Dangers at borders, in bars, and on boats
Danger in Idol & Survivor & Lost
Danger she'll beg us for the newest iPhone
            ("But, mama, it's so boring on the moon!")
Danger in the endless Internet search:
Hot dogs=carcinogens=slow painful death.

Ghost Song

Three times on Saturday
I remember you
as dead,

I reach under
my shirt
to find
the nipple dry,

surprised to forget
there's something
left of you
an orange I section
in the sun
and hand to my

The fight this morning
to part evenly
her hair.

Ghost milk
again on the nipple
as I make
the bed.

Bitters drained
from eggplant
black liquid
through a colander.

Bedtime is classic

She touches
my nipple
pajama shirt
and sings
as Sappho
to her beloved:
"I like your beauty, beauty."