CANNIBALS (Winner of the Academy of American Poets Award and Published in  Old Red Kimono )   We are so delicate in our shells Should all read  handle with care  We are being pried open in commotion Forgetting our hands can crush.  We say  how are you  Respond,  vanilla latte no foam  We say  tell me about it  Put on headphones We say  I feel you  Without fingertips or arms We say  technology is ruining us  Put phones on dinner tables We say  hold the door  Can’t carry a conversation We start sentences with  I  Never looking into irises.  We say  life is hard  We say  it’ll get easier  We say  keep going  We say  when does it end  We say  give love  We say  take care.   We are each one egg of a dozen Not checking if any are broken Cracking them open Only when we’re hungry.   JULIA GARI WEISS

CANNIBALS
(Winner of the Academy of American Poets Award and Published in Old Red Kimono)

We are so delicate in our shells
Should all read handle with care
We are being pried open in commotion
Forgetting our hands can crush.

We say how are you
Respond, vanilla latte no foam
We say tell me about it
Put on headphones
We say I feel you
Without fingertips or arms
We say technology is ruining us
Put phones on dinner tables
We say hold the door
Can’t carry a conversation
We start sentences with I
Never looking into irises.

We say life is hard
We say it’ll get easier
We say keep going
We say when does it end
We say give love
We say take care.

We are each one egg of a dozen
Not checking if any are broken
Cracking them open
Only when we’re hungry.

JULIA GARI WEISS

  CLUMPS   My mother shrieks in the shower. I look up, see her holding a chunk of reddish-brown hair. She gets out, dries, dresses, and now it’s everywhere – in the drain, on her sweater, a portion on her shoulder. When she’s distracted I remove stray strands so she doesn’t notice. Some stick in the wig she tries.  When she combs her hair a clump stays lifeless in the brush. She stares at it, frightened, and says, “Do you think that’s from me?” And I say, “No, probably the person before us.”   JULIA GARI WEISS

CLUMPS

My mother shrieks in the shower.
I look up, see her holding
a chunk of reddish-brown hair.
She gets out, dries,
dresses, and now
it’s everywhere – in the drain,
on her sweater, a portion on her
shoulder. When she’s distracted
I remove stray strands so she doesn’t
notice. Some stick in the wig she tries.

When she combs her hair
a clump stays lifeless in the brush.
She stares at it, frightened, and says,
“Do you think that’s from me?” And I say,
“No, probably the person before us.”

JULIA GARI WEISS

 
  CAGE   My rib cage is actually a birdcage I let one lovely white dove fly into the center core by your heart. Sometimes I revel in sending it your way, perhaps you needed more than I did.  Anyways this cage was getting heavy from the wings flapping, all the chirps I held inside and couldn't let go. Today, walking around alone in darkness where there should be street lights, I've been thinking that I want my dove back. After all, it was mine to give – it should be mine to take back too.  I want to know flight with or without it, I want to feel fluttering again.   JULIA GARI WEISS

CAGE

My rib cage is actually a birdcage
I let one lovely white dove fly
into the center core by your heart.
Sometimes I revel in sending it your way,
perhaps you needed more than I did.

Anyways this cage was getting heavy
from the wings flapping,
all the chirps I held inside
and couldn't let go. Today, walking around alone
in darkness where there should be street lights,
I've been thinking that I want my dove back.
After all, it was mine to give –
it should be mine to take back too.

I want to know flight
with or without it,
I want to feel fluttering again.

JULIA GARI WEISS

 
  THE WEIGHT   I was hollow shadows holding onto four hours of sleep and Ambien, wearing sunglasses inside, under excruciatingly dim lights.  My eye sockets sinking into my cheekbones. People would visit my mom’s hospital room with omelets that I couldn’t stomach. I’d cling to coffee watching her debilitating body, shrinking. Visitors told me I looked thin, wonderful even, and what had I been doing lately? I’d say, “starving.”  Marvelous!  “Popping melatonin.”  Fabulous!  “Sipping saltwater pouring down my cheeks.”  You. Look. Stunning!   When I reverted back to myself over time, healing, becoming fleshy again, nobody said a word. And I can’t recall seeing my reflection in straight lines and baggy blue jeans and feeling sexy. Nor do I remember this inept vanity in society to treat sizeable people as invisible until they’re molded to shrink to exist, inch by inch, to become smaller and smaller, until they show their clavicle. That’s when you finally notice them: when they’re disappearing altogether.   JULIA GARI WEISS

THE WEIGHT

I was hollow shadows holding
onto four hours of sleep
and Ambien, wearing
sunglasses inside, under
excruciatingly dim lights.

My eye sockets sinking
into my cheekbones. People
would visit my mom’s
hospital room with omelets
that I couldn’t stomach. I’d cling
to coffee watching her
debilitating body, shrinking.
Visitors told me I looked thin,
wonderful even, and what
had I been doing lately?
I’d say, “starving.”
Marvelous!
“Popping melatonin.”
Fabulous!
“Sipping saltwater
pouring down my cheeks.”
You. Look. Stunning!

When I reverted back
to myself over time,
healing, becoming fleshy
again, nobody said
a word. And I can’t
recall seeing my reflection
in straight lines and baggy
blue jeans and feeling sexy.
Nor do I remember
this inept vanity in society
to treat sizeable people
as invisible
until they’re molded
to shrink to exist, inch by inch,
to become smaller and smaller,
until they show their clavicle.
That’s when you finally notice them:
when they’re disappearing altogether.

JULIA GARI WEISS

 
 
  APERTURE   There is a steel door, it’s heavy, requires my feet firmly planted, body shifted, I must tug with my biceps, abdominals, squinted eyes, clamp my jaw. With all that force it may budge, open a crack.  There are more doors: oak, redwood, chiffon, plastic, all lined up in front of me. The paper door is weightless, easier to pull. Shows me dirt – not as spectacular as what’s behind the barbed wire door, I’m sure, I wouldn’t know, never opened it before.  Time is lined with walls of doors. The more trying, the more triumphant. I hang on to handles, hoist one open, a gust of wind scintillating my skin. For that brief moment, I know why there are doors in rows, why I build myself up to open okra, and why I touch handles to try and pry open particular doors, while others are better left closed.   JULIA GARI WEISS

APERTURE

There is a steel door,
it’s heavy, requires my feet
firmly planted, body shifted,
I must tug with my biceps,
abdominals, squinted eyes,
clamp my jaw. With all that force
it may budge, open a crack.

There are more doors:
oak, redwood, chiffon, plastic,
all lined up in front of me.
The paper door is weightless,
easier to pull. Shows me dirt –
not as spectacular as what’s behind
the barbed wire door, I’m sure,
I wouldn’t know, never opened it before.

Time is lined with walls of doors.
The more trying, the more triumphant.
I hang on to handles, hoist one open,
a gust of wind scintillating my skin.
For that brief moment, I know why
there are doors in rows, why
I build myself up to open okra,
and why I touch handles to try
and pry open particular doors,
while others are better left closed.

JULIA GARI WEISS

 
  PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER   A man fell to his death. Likely suicide, they said. As if he tripped off eleven floors by accident or saw his widow place her hands over her ears to block out the possibility of “on purpose.”  130 showrooms – furniture, decorating materials – top interior design. Post-Oscar parties, multi-million dollar fundraisers, a branch of MOCA, two restaurants by Wolfgang Puck: all inside, please come inside, where it’s likely suicide.  Outside, the building gleams waves of sapphire diamonds in the sunlight, an ocean without depth surrounded by fishy businessmen and the L.A. rush. Bosses expecting more than nine to five. Suits on cell phones being asked to reach nothing less than great heights they will likely fall from.   JULIA GARI WEISS

PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER

A man fell
to his death.
Likely suicide, they said.
As if he tripped off
eleven floors by accident or
saw his widow place her
hands over her ears to block
out the possibility of “on purpose.”

130 showrooms –
furniture, decorating materials –
top interior design.
Post-Oscar parties,
multi-million dollar fundraisers,
a branch of MOCA,
two restaurants by Wolfgang Puck:
all inside, please come inside,
where it’s likely suicide.

Outside, the building gleams waves
of sapphire diamonds in the sunlight,
an ocean without depth surrounded by
fishy businessmen and the L.A. rush.
Bosses expecting more than nine to five.
Suits on cell phones being asked
to reach nothing less than great heights
they will likely fall from.

JULIA GARI WEISS