A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Be Careful What You Wish For

I’m sure she has

     no secrets from me.

If I keep this from her,

     if I keep this to myself,

if I keep this for myself

If I keep this from her, I am

a) greedy

b) strong

c) disloyal

d) duplicitous

e) like all the rest

f) all of the above

g) any two of the above

This is my secret, if I keep it;

if I give it away, whose is it then?

Is it yours? Will you keep it safe for me?

But once it’s told, and therefore neither mine

nor secret, what is it then?

To my mother, secrets reached their full potential only

     when shared. Otherwise, they lay unseen,

     diamonds in the dark, a lovely dress

               always at the back of the closet,

     a refrigerated rose.

What was the point?

Telling a secret placed the diamond on a finger,

     the dress upon a woman,

the rose in her hair. Released, it releases its

dark perfume, its bearer a grace to all she passes.

Who would not want that?

“So, do you have any secrets to tell me?”

You want to know? What would you do if I told you

I flung myself on our young science teacher in the supply closet,

     the big one, with all the chemicals for the labs?

It didn’t happen, but I thought of it. And then

     he tried to kiss me, I think, in that closet, while I helped him

     set up for the next day. I moved away

so quickly, I wasn’t sure it happened. I never

     could be sure of that

     but only of this: if it did happen, if it had,

               the fault was mine—my wayward mind had led us


Or the feeling that comes when my hand

     brushes between my legs,

     do you want to know that?

No, I thought not.

I put her off like a wife an overly-amorous husband,

     pleading sleepiness, headache, an upset stomach.

“I miss our talks,” she’d say.

“Me too,” I’d say, and yawn.

“I’m curious,” Cory asked, in the dark of the bus,

     “why didn’t you tell me this on the way in?”

“I didn’t want to spoil it for you,” I said, “not completely.

I’d already done

enough damage. And,

I didn’t want you to hate my mother.”

“Don’t you?” he said.

“Well, not always.”

He didn’t say a word, just pressed my hand.

I was nearly asleep when we rolled into Oakland

     in time to make the last ferry,

still asleep, or nearly, when I got up

     next morning for work.

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