Sheree La Puma

Life in Seconds, with Gaps

Alone in her bed, flipping through photographs. Playful, happy snaps of her wife on a beach, somewhere in the Florida, Keys. She’s paying me to transfer music to the cloud, delete shit off her laptop but I’ve gone in deep, stepping into emails and private messages, reliving each a few seconds at a time. A concert in Maine, a clambake on the 4th of July. I close my eyes to the sweet of it, dozing off. She wakes me by bringing my hair to her face, kissing it gently. I feel the noise of her against my neck, startle when she lets go. Caressing my cheek with her fingers she whispers, “Sorry, hon didn’t mean to wake you.” She backs away. What remains between is a gap, a perfect hole to reach into.  At 50, I am done with empty. I want a mouth to feed on ash, bone, the flesh of me. Our eyes lock so I know she understands. I want to kiss as if we are rebuilding a foundation from the dirt up. I want her teeth in my teeth, her blood on my lips. I want to come in her arms, carved up like an alabaster sculpture, resurrected like Christ. I want to fall asleep with her hand on my breast and her heart beating against my                                                                                                                                                                                                spine.

Who am I now, your tongue or a ghost - lingering, in the house of my ex? I too have photographs. No cocked barrel in my mouth. Heavy bones. Our language isn’t pretty. After a while we bleed together. Funny how that works, but when you leave, I can’t recall the color of your eyes. What’s my identity, the name you traced with a finger across the back of my neck? It belongs to                  me.

My dead ex-husband’s lover tattoos his face on her arm. In my subterranean past I am a broken bottle. I imagine you exploring the south of my body. I try not to imagine the dark, still of his. I reach across to the place you slept for fear of losing,


Before you’re reborn you must kill your demons, forget every word you said, every lie. In front of me is a new blank, space. She doesn’t weep. I am addicted to new                                       beginnings.

I dream of dying, falling into the hole that winter empties



JUST IN,                        Murder                        Investigation                        under                        way,
           at                      the                        Santa                        Monica                        Library,                        In
           a hunter gather society, fame works like aphrodisiac.

YOU,                               wear                        stalker                        like                        a           skin,

           blow me                         kisses               on                             Instagram.                    In

           return,                                             I block your access, delete pictures of your dick.

“HERE’S           JOHNNY”           you           say           like           Jack           in           the           Shinning.
           You                              are                                 not                               the                                 eye
            of my storm. I grew up on Bukowski.


from Weezer’s  “Beverly Hills” rearranged in order of frequency.

well truth ain’t king come look they’re whack pool big beautiful next little thing girls born preppy always boarding into live beat-down stand by schools might enjoy movie great spaces sense of fashion automobile chance pocket play are never between so why take crap isn’t she friends housemaids didn’t belong you’re no-class nobody from nothing picture fool go clean floors scrub ‘cause something got way screwy should get looked watch it’s piece when those life life stars stars wanna wanna at at me me I’m I’m no no they they will will WANT WANT WANT don’t don’t don’t celebrity celebrity celebrity be be be rolling rolling rolling as as as that’s that’s that’s all all all is is is where where where where that that that that to to to to just just just just like like like like like my my my my my my and and and and and and living living living living living living living the the the the the the the in in in in in in in in in a a a a a a a a a I I I I I I I I I I I I I Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Beverly Hills GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME.


At my door                                    a woman,        3 kids.                        God            is    love    they

say                   handing             me                 a             Bible.                        He’s                  going
to                    see                  you             through                with                         a                   book
contract,    or    a    job,           Editor    at    the    Times      &       I’m    in    love    with    possibility
America             at             my            feet.                 Drop             Kick.                Nothing happens
rent’s     overdue,           creepy   landlord                                            watches me              through

the window,                              in his hand,             something       sick,                                  I    flip

the bird,              take a bus to         Venice             to read                         poetry,                  on the

street some kids smoking crack.                                        heard   they    found                    a girl

                                                there, in the garbage

On Washington & Del Rey. don’t                   do                        drugs anymore,

think                       I should.    It’s    the    best     way     to     find     your    Buddha.   5-years  past
I fell in love                                                          with             Jesus.             Thought                 we
had            a             relationship.             He             spoke             to             me            in          the
shower.                         Got                     on                       my                         knees                   and
sang.                                        Next day,                    there’s a man in Von’s             with  the  same

vibe. Ready to witness,           I ask him to         dinner,                    buy groceries at the           

corner Deli   with a                     bad check.       He shows up late, throws             daisies   on   the

counter, throws me on the couch.                    A few days later,         he remembers

the lasagna.                 Calls for                             leftovers.                                 I go outside

            for a smoke with my neighbor,                      enjoy the sound           of her,                     the

rhythm of her mouth,        breath, the down & dirty way she laughs.                       No            longer

            searching for truth,                 I find                              myself     in her body,             become

            holy                                in her




A new uniform. Hawking sports gear at $9 an hour. My daughter sends an email threatening to out me in public. “There’s no way you can spin this,” she says. No empathy, just a foul mouth rant. Never had to struggle. She is simply one of those who don’t understand, poor. That first week, I barely do anything, A friend shows up Monday & Wednesday. Down to my last dollar, I hide behind the curtains. Try to ignore the cell phone, ringing in my pocket. I write poetry, to feel useful. The world keeps spinning, but I’m out of grant money. I spend most of my time alone. The trickle-down effect of a changed life means using my slow cooker on a cheaper cut of meat but when they tell me to take the bird, I politely decline. It’s free. But what it represents, happy, thanks, family, is something I’m not ready to carry.



Crazy Making:

When I hide real from my kids,

they weave stories, bits & pieces

here & there with gaps, like

nets stitched with mud, decaying

in rain. You can’t heal wounds

with a Sesame Street Band-Aid.


Land of Misfits:

Family, I feel most alone here.

At 2, my daughter says, “Daddy

go bye-bye with Mimi.” My son

vomits words in the corner,

thick with rage, a calling card,

I’ve yet to understand.

Like Talking to a Wall:

Something unholy binds me

here. There are no angels in

America. “I’m glad you’re alone,”

he says before leaving. In a dream,

lost, mother is the most beautiful

color in the rainbow.

How to Highlight Suffering:

Pain Body Mother - a hollow bullseye

blasted out to the edges. Every nest

abandoned in Spring. My children beg

to switch - to father. A gentle weeping,

broken open at 50. Moss in my bones

where rivers should flow.


The Loss of Memory:

So thirsty, I swallow tears. They enter

like a poem scattering in the wind,

flood like the Mississippi on a day in

December when the damn breaks,

Without warning - My tongue salt & sea.

Water carves a new longing.

© 2019 Tapestry, Annual TAMUK Women & Gender Studies Journal

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