Bliss in the Butter Keeper (poem)

I’ve had almonds today and chocolate and
dried cranberries and French press coffee
and a bit of a ham sandwich and real butter
on real bread. All signs point to the blissful Elsewhere
being right here in my cabinet with the chocolate

and nuts. Swimming around in the French
press before being all smashed to bitter
oil and wakefulness. Shivering in the fridge in
an off-brand baggie. Baked in an industrial oven.
Treading lukewarm water in the blue
porcelain butter keeper.

-M. Ashley

Loving Your Jealous God (poem)

If you make your god jealous, submit to him.
Love him. Ruffle his curly black hair. Offer him
your body and all your softest parts, the ones
you only offer some of the time.

Swear on the river, the unbreakable
swear, that you will give up
the offending one. Kiss him all over.

You didn’t mean to hurt his heart,
but you did.

-M. Ashley

Ghost Heart

“Much have we loved you, but speechless was our love, and with veils has it been veiled.”
-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

In a moment of pain, suffering again with a traumatic memory, beyond trauma, that gave me tremors in my right arm and down the length of my leg, I cried out in loneliness and, in the imaginary conversation I was having with my therapist, I said how lonely I was with my trauma and how talking to my god was not enough because “he’s a ghost!”

(I am thinking of a ghost’s sheet as a veil.)

I hurt my god’s feelings. He has been right here with me through all the blood and guts.

Many times, talking to others about him, I have referred to him as “a figment of my imagination,” and “my all-powerful psychosis.” He joyfully laughs.

I called him a ghost and broke his heart.

-M. Ashley

Universal Piggyback

A very wise Indian fellow, or an Indian fellow we are supposed to think is wise, got awfully judgey when he said it is a terrible misconception that the governing force of the Universe is love. I mean, how sappy could we be? But the thing is, I know the Universe, have met it in a her/him person many times, and I can tell you for certain she is love-powered. She especially loves group hugs and jumping on your back for a piggyback ride. She giggles and sometimes covers your eyes as you run and run and run.

-M. Ashley

Eau de Summer Camp (poem)

The base note has something to do with
sunscreen—a fair haired girl’s
most important piece of camping gear
next to bug spray
which is the sharp second layer of the scent.
The whiff of stiff, chlorinated towels,
unwashed and hot from the top
of the waist-high chain link fence
they were draped over to dry
completes the first perfumer’s chord.

For nuance, a drop of happy sweat
from happy children come to wash
their hands and faces with pink powdered soap
from lime green metal dispensers
hung over shabby sinks
on which daddy long legs perch
each rolling their eight dull eyes
at the rush and frivolity of the new generation.

-M. Ashley

NaPoWriMo: We Prostitutes

We don’t look down on
each other here. This one forced
this one willing, this one forced
by force, this one forced by
circumstances, this one forced

and not knowing it, thinking that she,
in her non-stripper shoes, in control of
the chess board, receiving presents
is above it.

We all cry into the same
sweaty pillows.

-M. Ashley

NaPoWriMo: Worst Poem Ever

I trace your ribs
In cerulean ink
Dewdrops of blue
On the skin
A connect-the-dots
That somehow
Resembles a unicorn
In calligraphy lines
A unicorn with the stripes
Of your bones
A child of myth
And the Serengeti
A mythical zebra with a horn

They must have had unicorns
In the Serengeti too
And your ribs
And my ink
Must have been
What their pelts looked like
On the walls of mythical hunters

If they had pottery
In the mythical Serengeti
And this cerulean ink
Would stick
I would trace your ribs
On the pottery too
While you are sleeping
The rise and fall of your abdomen
With your sacred breath
The reason the lines would be blurred
Not my tears, my love
Not my tears

-M. Ashley