An outhouse
at 2:17 am
in high summer,
air hot and harsh
as fresh tar.
Her life,
offal on a plank
in darkness,
necessary leavings.
A hole in which to drop.
and curling.

There was that time
he muscled the pump,
drawing frigid water upwards
so it rushed over her,
washed her clean.

Was there a moon?
She saw
only the purposeful glow
of his truck’s headlights.


Life on a plank.

July 2014
Julie Ayers



(For Melissa)

The rain fell,
harder than their laughter in the dusk,
louder even than their curses at Siri
for her lag-ey lane change prompts,
never leaving them enough time
to cautiously alter course
in DC’s unforgiving torrent of traffic.

Was it the same
for the white box truck
that suddenly veered sharply
across a divider space not meant for travel?
Caught on the wrong side of a split,
the pooled water from the downpour
masked the vast hole
that made the enormous wheels rise up,
the truck buck,
twist beside us,
right itself roughly and
violently slam into the lane
just ahead.

In her peripheral vision,
a ton of swerving truck
rocking treacherously over us
as we fast-sliced through the deluge.
Her, releasing the wheel,
stretching out one arm,
the small, fine, freckled hand
held open before my troubled heart.

Crash or crush immaterial.
I have been saved.

May 28, 2014
Julie Ayers



we have our stories
written in indelible DNA
myelin sheath to lace
amino acid to crystal
bell curves on the bottom of tranquility
organs falling still, silent
cells that morph to blossom darkly

the other stories
we draw in soft pastels
only fix them by resolution
dangling by thin wire
in all their suspended coloration

the plastic hospital bassinet
sheltering wisp of white onsied baby girl
arms stretched upwards, reaching
our hands unequivocally catching

forceps liberating, cord cut,
blue eyes open, fingernails fine as rice paper
a boy all weary, bloodied
from the long struggle to here

heads that fit snug in collar-bones
hair smelling of baths of bubbles
Goodnight Moon and bunnies
and spoons of mush
sippy cups and squeak of swings

hospital hallways, sleep chairs, ERs,
ORs, intensive cares, incisions, syringes,
liquids, pills, capsules,
nights and nights and nights
full of tubing and machines
that pump and beep and drain
procedures that punish and save
and save
and save
and save

circus clowns spring-board launched
somersaulting over lines of bowed children
chemo-bald and nervously giggling
cotton candy in blistered mouths
that needed to relearn the shape of laughter

a call, a text, a visit, an email
a party invitation and picnic at the pool
a book, a glass, a poem, a concert
hats and sunscreen and trophies
and tribes

fires browning marshmallows
warming fronts and feelings
as backdrops for men thumbing guitars
vivid sparks of voices rising
into midnight blue

and saved
and saved
and saved
and saved


May 7, 2014
Julie Ayers




In the deluge and gray
they stop to kiss
amid the spring green shrubs
on uncertain grass
his hands
all tenderness
on her curve of hips
he leans forward
presses his lips
soft with pleasure
against hers
remains steady
in the unyielding weather
full yearning

Her hair
now a waterfall
on bare shoulders
she shivers
shifts her body
to borrow his
wraps her arms tightly
around his center
lavish descent
into the kiss
into the flood
into every gusty possibility


Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 30


One’s Own



During her twenty-three year hiatus from writing
she cut shelf paper
organized band aids and dental floss
placed make-up in small plastic bins
eyeliner pencils/mascara/blush
aligned the edges of the octagon-shaped
dinnerware in the kitchen cupboard

There were craft projects with the children
homemade pop-up bunny Easter cards
for the grandparents retired in Florida
gingerbread houses, noodle necklaces
and Jimmy Neutron themed birthday parties
dresser drawers kept tidy and full
outgrown swimsuits swiftly dropped to Goodwill

Poems remained with notebooks, baklava
and cups of tea at Amy’s Café
stayed sealed in A Room Of One’s Own Bookstore
prettiest words thwarted by grad school deadlines
literary deconstruction, lesson planning, essay grading
by serious work that paid for cerulean sundresses
and morning sickness that lasted all day, shed paint color selection

During her twenty-three year hiatus from writing
she typed the occasional memorial poem
felt the grind of ungreased gears as metal shaved
sat thirsty by an empty cup gazing at vacant chairs
she cut shelf paper and waited
anxious for the light to fall again back
render passage of an entry unbarred



Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 29





Behind the cash register at the Royal Farm,
the blond boy with the big smile
and the baggie of pills in his pocket
who will be dead by 2:27 am,
his friends stopping the car
in front of his parents’ house
just long enough to leave his cooling body
next to the masonry pillar mailbox
where his mother will discover it
when she backs out of the driveway
early Saturday morning on her way to
the boot camp she joined
because she’s about to turn 50
and wants to enter
the next half of her life
with the same series of numbers
on the bathroom scale
that showed the day she graduated
from high school.

He took the job at Royal Farm
to show his dad
he wasn’t lazy,
saving up to pay his own way
to Cancun for spring break
since he hadn’t maintained the 3.5 GPA
his parents had insisted as condition
for their footing the bill.

The news of his potential existence
had caused his mother to sink
to the floor seventeen years prior,
sob with relief and a joy too big to hold
his father kneeling next to her on the tile,
resting his hands gently on her quaking back.
She’d been trying to conceive for six years,
consulted a fertility expert
to identify any issues,
explore options.

She never ceased to love him
with that very same intensity,
even when he totaled the car,
forgot her 47th birthday and didn’t get a card
or gift so weeded the flower bed by the pond
or when he told her he hated her
when she grounded him for a full month
from electronics for buying online games
with her credit card without permission.
$682 worth of League of Legends and in-game purchases.

After his funeral,
she cuts her hair short
and rarely smiles,
drops out of boot camp
and spends most days standing
by the dining room window
holding an empty coffee mug
and staring out towards the pond,
the view of water
now almost entirely obstructed by thistle,
beds full of suffocating thorns,
choking out even the smallest bloom.


Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 28