July 12-18, 1999: Leslie Maryann Neal and Kirsten Ogden

Week of July 12-18, 1999

Leslie Maryann Neal and Kirsten Ogden

Leslie Maryann Neal


My name is Leslie Maryann Neal I’m originally from Long Beach,  CA, but have been stuck in Clearwater, FL, of late I’m 23 and single I have mostly brown hair A couple of the poems appear in my chapbook on The Inevitable Press, called “I Want to Be a Bad Girl “

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by
Leslie Maryann Neil and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


I never carried
my books
like the other girls,
in the crook of my arm,
clutched to my breast
like a baby I ran with a fast crowd,
went through boys
fast I was the kind of girl
that would fuck
you and never know
your last name I did it
behind the bleachers
once with a black boy
two years older
and twice my size I moaned and smiled
as my nails dug
into the gravel When he was done,
I fixed my skirt
and picked up my books I grasped them
at my side, my hand
around them tight
like my fingers
denting the filter
of my cigarette,
tight like every boy
said I was.


I’m driving the 133
through Laguna Canyon,
my life stashed
in corners of three
ex-boyfriends’ houses,
curled in paper boxes
marked with red pen,
“Shoes,” “Sweaters “
I’m driving to the guest
bedroom that is home
for now
I am floating I am held down
by my freedom
I’m driving up the 55
with a dream of a hot
shower pulsing at my back I want to be painfully
clean; I want
my skin to squeak
at each stroke I want to curl
up in the bathtub
like a child,
make islands of my knees
in the clear water,
hold the bar of soap
down with wrinkled fingers,
then let go
and watch it float.

Letter to Lyn Lifshin
(for Donna Hilbert)

Do you curl
up in the circle
of light thrown
by your reading
lamp, the tips
of your fingers
white as you clutch
at fame, gripping
an old copy
of your Bible,
the Poet’s Market?

Do you have a dead
a rich husband,
a MacArthur grant?
Do you get the bulk
mail rate
from the post office?
Are your SASE’s
marked Business
Reply Mail?

Do you throw
huge lawn parties,
the envy
of Gatsby himself,
the glimmer
of lights and faces
in the dusk?
Do you only
invite editors?

(for Jaimes)

The walls are white,
the contours
of his face
in every shadow I get out of bed,
pad to the kitchen
to get a 7-Up I sip it in half-
darkness, the light
from naked porch bulbs
through Venetian blinds
laying stripes on the floor The photographs taped
to the refrigerator
are dark rectangles The faces float
in darkness, white,
ghostlike, eerie The 7-Up titters
to itself
like sharp static,
like falling pins on metal I pour it down the sink It goes hissing, sweet I crawl into bed,
pull on the flannel sheet I hold the blanket close,
like a lover, like
this man I do not know,
my face buried in cotton,
trying to find the smell
of his hair.

Walking to the Car

A cloud, a blue-white
scoop like ice cream
noticing the cold,
hovers between buildings
like a Magritte dream Shadows move from window
to tinted window,
a Rohrshach test of sliding ink I believe I am going insane The inkblot shadow looks
one moment like a giraffe
holding a hand grenade,
the next like a bowl of granola
Loneliness presses bruises
into my skin with its weight,
carves every letter
of its name with surgical
precision into my eyes I get into the car
On the 405,
I pass one of those lit signs
that forecast traffic It says,

Poem from a Line by Jeffery McDaniel

When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
my throat hurts,
my sciatica acts up again,
I think I have mono I hold a thermometer
up to a white-hot
hundred-watt bulb,
then wave it around
my empty room, saying,
“Look, I have a fever I can’t go to school today “

When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
loneliness sucks at my skin
like leeches The blood fills my eyes
When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
I get the hiccups
When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
I’m cold like glass,
like my cheek against
the airplane window I’m cold like a Scientologist
When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
I take up humming
just to feel my lips again,
I suck on lollipops
just to feel something
in my mouth again
When I haven’t been kissed
in a long time,
my eyes become dry as fur,
my pupils are bees
shaking in the daylight
Kiss me.

Kirsten Ogden


Kirsten Ogden graduated with her MFA degreefrom the University of Alaska Fairbanks She currently works with California Poets in the Schools and teaches poetry and playwriting at Learning Tree University She has presented scholarly papers at the Florida State University Film Festival and has been published in several literary journals She hosts a bi-weekly poetry series at the Borders Bookstore in Canoga Park, California.

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by
Kirsten Ogden and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

My Sister and I Drive Like Lovers

My arm around your shoulder, your
hand on my thigh we are comfortable You flip the radio from static to static until
we hear a song, sing loud and off-key with it
We talk sex when music
bores us You consider yourself
a good lay and tell me to seek
a good lover when I settle for
my man You make me laugh I will seek a comedian
who makes love well
because my sister told me to
Wind comes through car windows,
cola spouts from shook can I catch sight of your daughter in
my rearview mirror, caught in
a sunbeam, her eyes closed,
her mouth wide open She eats sunlight
What makes me want to take this moment, lock it in
a safety deposit box?
You next to me, outdated
sunglasses frame your lips You’ve been talking a while, but
I only understand the
music in your voice,
lips parted wide
You reach to change the station, find
nothing and make up your own song I sing with you, instinctively know your
lyrics Your daughter, stomach full of
sunlight, sleeps.

Man’s Body In Bloom

He cups the rhythm of my breath in his moist palm tomorrow I will slide between the open spaces
in his fingers and run away,
follow the trail from his mud-scented lip that
lingers above the crown of my mouth
A leg, not like a greedy weed or a tangled ivy, wraps
itself around me, holds my body where it needs to be Eyelids open and close, chew my kisses like
a Venus flytrap savors a newly born butterfly
Tumbleweed drags itself
across a field of blooming cactus,
grows in size as it rolls over seeds and dust,
ignores my thirsty cries lost to wind
He is the watering hole near my toes
drying beneath the desert sun He could never be compared
to a gardenia or an orchid sweating in a hot house He is a thick, fleshy root from deep sand He is the humidity on a night when no one
could smell the rain charge through the quilt of
stars behind blackened clouds
The heat of it all falls acros our thighs We breathe in one heavy,
honey-thick huff of moving lungs and
long hair stuck to eachother’s tongue My reflection
glows against his mapped remains.

The Fisherman
.For Pablo Neruda

The fisherman casts his sad nets toward a red
.sea; they return filled with fresh Ruff and

A garnet heart My own holy hands drop my net
.quietly The water barely moves
I pray for Roosterfish, good wind, a lover to be my
.warrior, blaze his shield to snowy stars,

Slice the marsh where I suffocate, emphytotic, like
.roots of reeds forgotten in a paper cup
I watch him recast
.his sad nets I feel words run over my

Breasts like hands, feel their echo in my own ruddy
.palms, feel macrorrhiza sprout from my toes and

Fingers I hear his melodies sung to the women from
.his poems I reach out to touch those saddest lines

that move with the weight of

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