Heather's Poetry



In those days 
When the locusts sang like rusted wire 
Broken down at angles 
The evenings were long and strange 
And I could never lie down for more than half an hour 
Something kept tapping at the veins inside me 
I held my breath at odd and broken lengths 
Thought of high school 
And couldn't rest 
Even with the strange and hovering doom 
Collecting calm all around me 

In this collected space 
I've waited so long 
the flowers have gone all but rotten on the trees 
And I'm unsure now of my responsibilities 
But all the same, there have been many fences 
Sitting ragged in the sun 
Choked with weeds 
Or standing still and lonely up before me 


One April hand wrapped in *my* skin 
Is reaching down as far as it can 
Toward warm grass as sad as dead chickens 
And little girls who won't have the thing they want 
And still don't cry 
Not for anything so valuable as crayons 
They save their tears for excess as they grow 
To spend on rainy days and boys with winter faces 
And I put in my time at the grocery store 
Because I hear they sell lives there, and I hope that's true 

The old man wrote his check for four years ago 
He was afraid of the end of the world 
As he pushes stories at me 
His blue coveralls cling desperately 
To everything around him 
And I turn my eyes with an aversion rarely had to money 
(Both have qualities about them 
That have been pressed into my hand 
Thrust into my face 
And both have numbers 
That sit static in my eyes 
And demand solutions 
And rarely come out right 
And never lift a whisper of advice 
And never lay a hand upon my forehead) 

I can taste the Sunday mornings in this place 
As I cut out words and string them wordlessly together 
Until I can't fit anymore 
Can't crowd anymore 
Then I sit in the corner 
And let the tears roll heavy down my static face 

I'm a five 
And I won't spend well, I know 
I'm prone to slip into missing nickels 
And meaningless dimes 
And so all my dimes are wasted 
Locked up in the paper thin of my mind 
And that's why the tears fall so heavy on my cheeks 
Because a five has weight enough to know these things 


Old man looks up and nods 
(And *smiles!* I swear not aged a day 
But always old) 
"Yeah," he grins 
"I know'd you'd be back." 
And those pines shake *cold* water down my spine 
And my memory shudders! 
See, old man laid a trap for us 
Up ahead in the road 
But we don't dare stop 
Not here on this mud puddle stretch 
We have to go on to where the fences end 
And the bent tree tells us we're almost there 


There's a full moon above the path 
A stone walk with reflecting pools of rain 
And solid moments 
Where you can set your feet loudly against the evening 
The verse men would say these things are magic 
But everything, to them, is magic 
With their iambic heartbeats 
I am touched more tangibly 
By these irreverent fingers of catalectic line 
From my whirlwind of lives, I'm running home 
To meet the pen whose people glitter on the page 
Building me a day 
That follows till the evening's done 
And for a moment I am resplendent with Ones 
Being set free like doves 
Out over emerald lakes and parades 
Sudden with hope in the morning sun. 
(c) Spring 1999 ~Heather K. Dooley


Sweet face 
Eyes down like crescent slivers 
Of negative moon on a dusty sky 
You are shapes and you are shades 
And you are traces of things not found 
Elsewhere in life 
Shadows not cast by form 
And dreams not hinged on sleep 
Your thoughts are weighted by stones 
To the bottoms of pools 
Out of the way of eyes 
And safe from dragons 
But treasures 
To little fish like me 
-Heather K. Dooley
23 March 1999

I gather up my butterflies...

I gather up my butterflies 
into my fist 
and shove them in my notebook 
half-wings fluttering and sweaty 
and I slam the cover on them 
but they don't cry 
they just settle their wings 
and tuck their imaginary heads 
like gray doves in the snow 
and I love them so much 
but I don't let them know 
-Heather K. Dooley
27 January 1999


My drafts and their devices 
They remind me of plants 
with chlorophyll veins 
like the veins in babies' wrists 
if babies were light green 
like infant aliens 
with skin like the stems of Touch-Me-Nots 
she says Your poems are really poems 
and mine are just like thoughts 
but she's writing amoebas 
in her car 
with her daughter 
and her bumperstickers, she writes 
I love 
and like love, I am here 
and like here, I want to leave 
and she comes and goes 
like a tide of ocean with no structure 
and no veins 
-Heather K. Dooley
16 February 1999


From truck stops in the middle of the cold night 
She thinks of pouring sugar down her throat before 
Ruby-throated good night girl 
Tiny script like her grandmother's 
Parlor rugs, 
Satin pillows, 
This sugary glass, 
And all these rooms like canaries - 
Not yellow, but *lucid.* 

Whispering through the house 
The door that never completely closes 
Her darling is off somewhere in love 
A mystery to her 
She smiles, shakes her head 
All this love (and gasoline) 
It's enough to take you places. 

She trips on the rug 
Knows what she's never quite said 
Writing before bed 
In a hard-backed book 
Printed with bugs and butterflies 
(It's what girls think is pretty these days.) 
She listens at a door 
To one asleep 
Alone in a narrow box 
She always stops too soon 
How good it would be to speak again 
A smile and a lifting of the chin 
Forward through the rooms. 
~~(c) Heather K. Dooley
13 November 1999


People wander onto stage 
Like dry leaves 
And say their parts 
And wonder on their way. 

Yes, God, I listened 
I will be here at the close of day. 
~~c Heather K. Dooley
02 December 1999


In the lab today, at my computer 
I had a sudden vision 
Of pillowcases full of butterflies 
The wings were tired, beating 
Against the cool linen 
It wasn't sad; 
They could have flown away at any moment. . . 
These are universal paths and I believe it. 
I've had a such a vision of this road 
At sundown and the treeline 
But I was fettered all the while I was here 
I remember back when I could spend all day in a 
Reading babies' names and picking flowers 
Now I keep appointments 
To keep me going somewhere 
Because otherwise, I'll sit right here and starve 
I can feel my car being hit broadside 
I can smell somebody's campfire 
I remember being raped and going to jail 
Standing on top of a mountain, free as a bird 
Wishing the kids wouldn't play in the street - 
Screaming when I heard the scream 
I remember the stage and the dirt of the street 
And sequins 
I remember hatboxes 
In a room in the rain 
I woke up in an upstairs bedroom 
My lungs filling with smoke 
And not really understanding 
That five years was all there would be this time. 
And suddenly I want to call a very old number 
With a very new reason. . . 
Or none at all - 
Let's go pick flowers, 
Let's walk through puddles. 
(c) 10 February 2000
Heather K. Dooley


Arrogant bastards
Lying in the smell of books and old flowers,
Secret gatherings and hard liquor:
Stay in your yellow house and freeze
Wither in the sun of other people.
(c) 02 April 1998


Kaitlin walks across the lobby and to the paintings on the wall
Studies them and reads the captions
And doesn't look at me on the way over or the way back
Once we sat no further apart than the two sides of a back seat
And I took pictures of her while she slept
Because I thought she was so pretty
And I would never be that pretty
Even though I was mythically odd
And made guys stop dead confused on the street
I would never talk the way she could
And I would never relax the way girls like that did.
Fuck it, I lean back against the wall and exhale imaginary smoke
And suddenly I am tragically heartbroken
And T.S. Eliot is gone
And it's a scary hundred years later
And he's nothing but dead
He doesn't live on paper
In our hearts or in our heads
He's a dead man from a hundred years ago
And I love who he was so much
His smoke and fog and women in corsets
That for once, in real life, I understand real death.
It's a sad thing to take your heart out
And set it down beside the road
Where you used to catch the school bus
And then to walk away
Looking over your shoulder at the poor beating thing
All lost and warm and growing cold.
Fuck it, I lean back against the wall, exhale imaginary smoke.
~~(c) 14 March 2000, poetgirl417


When the suitcase was empty,
they carried it to an upstaris bedroom
and set it down on the wooden floor.

The window was open but nothing ever came in.

Outside, the wind blew and blew;
unseen trees rustled in the dark,
and windchimes sparkled randomly each permanent night.

It became a question whether anyone knew the room was there
as the years passed and the wind blew
and no one ever came back.

It was the quiet fate of transience - 
a subtle punishment for never growing legs.
(c) poetgirl417, 15 June 2000


There is always that wonderful moment
after the man has hurled his shoe in irrational anger
over a railing and down a flight of concrete steps
into the garden,
when he must humbly walk down and get it.
~(c) poetgirl417, 19 August 2000
MU Campus


Just knowing that I could go to him right now
and say, "Marry me,"
and he would marry me and take care of both of us
for the rest of our lives
and I could live in a house and be crazy
and do nothing else.
And the people where he worked would know he had a crazy wife
and maybe only he would know that she was in love
with someone else a long time ago
who she never got over
and somehow he would know that was tragic
and would keep it to himself.
It's scary the things that are possible.
And right now there's this baby girl outside my door
out in the hallway 
on the phone with her boyfriend who's breaking up with her
and there's nothing she can do about it
and she doesn't know how lucky she is
and only I can see how precious she is.
In the darkened hallway, she looks smaller than by daylight
and I know if he could see her,
he would drop the phone
and howl outside our window all night.
~(c) 24 August 2000, poetgirl417

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