red chameleon beckoned me out 

entranced me with its glossy glaze

matched the blood that fell from me

walked past the broken grill

with the torn black cover

said hello to the baby leaves 


let the purple tendrils wrap themselves 

around my knees

“Stay with us forever!”

I pretend to hear them plead

What beautiful, caring creatures – I think 

look up at the black

feel the moisture run down my back

marvel that it’s too humid to even breathe

watch the red chameleon crawl into

a place that I cannot go 

we all can’t be Alice that gets to fall

into that glorious rabbit hole 

look away – rip my eyes from its gaze

feel the purple tendrils unwrap their grip

from my knees 

go back into my crumbling house

ignore their saddened stance

ignore their fictitious pleas


that foam hung around for a long time

this time

tickled my arms

tickled my nose

so I couldn’t breathe

reminded me of that time long ago

I held my breath when I was born

held it so long

that they told him I died


when he told that story

it was the only time

I ever saw him cry


the panic waits till I’m asleep

lifts me from my unstable trance

to remind me that I need to feel it

that panic echoes in my ears 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re going to feel it.”


makes my heart jump and skip 

as I peel my shirt from my chest

start chanting prayers 

visualize where he’s at 

start covering him in prayer 

imagine angels by his door

his sleeping body under its wings 


tell the panic to leave me alone 

let’s go back to that unstable sleep

then tomorrow I’ll feel it, I promise 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re gonna feel it.”


big stream of little tears 

hands shaking off 

massive fears

the grieving left

but now I’m waiting 

for it all to come back to me 

God – please don’t let it

come back to me

let the child that I now see

stay forever 

i welcome a miraculous mystery


this beaten down shell of a woman 

the one with the grandest dreams 

grew tired of seeing her shadow at the bottom


let the violins lead her out of the water

to take a walk under the August sun 


unafraid to 

journey for days on end without sleep 

burdened with thirst but not take a drink

until that duty called her back in 

to cut her feet on those flawed, broken shells 

back in to swim with the eels

back to the that beaten down shell of a woman

like me



I can’t even enjoy the rain anymore.

I’m always pacing, reaching for the door. 

I can’t even savor my meals anymore.

I’m always eating while standing; 

hurriedly chewing and choking. 

I can’t even stand my showers anymore.

That water hurts my burgundy 

striped shoulders.

I can’t even stand to stand anymore.

The gorilla on my back just keeps 

getting older. 

I can’t even love my words anymore. 

They just sit here pretty like, 

as a constant reminder that 

I just can’t anymore.





rusty gate called me in

off that weed infested path

lined with the statues your aunt made

all those Raggedy Anns and Andys

with their red button stares and permanent smiles

creeping me out, but you loved them


open that rusty gate – hear its exclamations

wipe my hand on my thigh, watch the orange dust fly

walk barefooted on the gravel

feel the stones pierce my flesh but

my strong child self doesn’t cry

look to my left over the fence

see the lightning bugs emerge

pray one lands on me – it’ll give me luck 


walk into that darkened house

tiptoe around all the statues on the floor

look past their frozen happiness

sitting on the tables, waiting around the corner

stay brave with all their eyes on me

turn around and suddenly wish to leave

the house is just too eerie


run outside, ignore Raggedy Ann’s glare

close the rusty gate – hear its low moan

think, I’m too young to care

dash to play with those fleeting lights

and when you ask, “Did you have fun?”

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you

walk past and embrace the fading sun