CONFESSION IN THE KEY OF BLAME
Father, I have sinned: I cannot forgive you.
I was told
if you tell someone about your dreams,
they never come back.
Does this apply to waking nightmares too?
If I pluck out the threads
of my skin, will my fears be embarrassed
from all the attention?
My father does not know how to cook or change a tire,
but plays guitar better than Keith Richards himself.
He tells the dog he loves her,
tells me to lock the door behind him.
Father pushes my brother, calls him
pussy for not fighting back.
Father sleeps all day, vanishes with the night.
Roots of my hair in his fist.
He once told me to
stop cleaning an empty house,
you are no priest, and I have no desire to expel.
Father guilts and makes us pity him, tells us
we don’t matter.
What matters is money, and that he
can’t make any.
My father knows how to parallel park
a truck, but leaves car keys in the front door.
He shuts us out,
invites strangers in.
Reader, you might ask me
why I don’t confront the demons myself,
why I don’t just leave.
My father is an 8-track in a Honda, Black Sabbath,
I’m 7 years old.
My father is the same scrambled
eggs and ham grilled cheese every day.
Reader, I would tell you
I don’t need to eat the forbidden fruit to know the dream
goes on if I stay asleep.
My father does not know how to fix
car brakes, or switch family plans, or train a dog.
My father has a toolbox, and never answers
his phone, and loves the dog
more than he loves me.
SELF PORTRAIT: IN A ROOM WITH YOU
I want to ask you how it feels
to be beautiful, how
despite that beauty, you’re also pleasant to talk to.
Do you look in the mirror before leaving the house,
just to make sure you still look like you? I do.
I make the bed, sweep the glass after it breaks,
take shards out of my back before locking the door.
I want to ask you about the music. Do you like a song
because the strings and fill your veins, or because
the lyrics remind you of the mirror?
Do you dance?
There are so many people here,
and I am only a pair of hips.
I could dance if I wanted to, like an animal
on a hunt, I seduce myself
on a crowded floor. But I don’t love this song.
I just want you to think I love myself.
I want to ask how you greet someone
you see every day. Do you let them kiss
your mouth, while you try not to remember
the last time you pulled away?
I practice panicked silence, wait
and look away. I want to ask if you live alone now.
I cry in the produce aisle, turning fruit over and
replacing the ones that are bruised. Can you love
damaged goods? I want to ask if
you’re afraid of your father.
Do you smell the room before walking in? Or do you take note
of how dim the lights are first? I wonder, if I were that room,
if you’d swipe the counters for dust or if
you’d throw your coat on the floor.
There are many drawers in my room.
I want to ask you where you hide things, and if
those things are folded, or if your home is a hovel.
Do you believe in absolution? I don’t. I think
bodies are exempt from heaven.
I want to ask you if you love your body.
I want to ask if you sleep with the lights on.
Solo moments with their silent divide
Balding head and thinning hide
Breathes reptilian to fledgling fire,
Creates the beast he hated as a child.
A mild affair, too common, you know
The monster’s den bears only his fruit to grow.
Dying tree, Sahara soil decompose.
This is the foundation on which he chose.
Stems still thorned, rose petals of raven.
Gnats in the kitchen where the walls cave in.
For fallen seed, once so sweet.
Pluck a follicle and leave its pore to be.
A CHILD, IN LOVE
You never hold a man’s hand
and forget the set of crooked fingers
you were always stuck
in between under over, you don’t
look at your father anymore
because the green in his eyes remind you
of your own the way another man used to look at you
don’t speak to your father because
if you speak to your father
you remember more than double jointed limbs, and
this child, in love,
will always want
the affection of a ghost,
a transparent hand to console
an insatiable heart.
Amanda Lopez is a poet and MFA graduate from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the 16th issue of Lunch Ticket. She has served as a management assistant for Write Bloody Publishing and read on the literary journal The Redlands Review as Poetry Editor during her undergraduate years at the University of Redlands. Her poem “Confession in the Key of Blame” is her debut as a published poet.