self-portrait 2154 e. garfield ave. salt lake city utah 84106 september 1992 to march 1995

in town for whatever reason                          . i remember i                          had lived nearby.                                                    the house was much smaller than now i remember.                                                      the tree had been taller, somewhat                          to the left. I had gathered gold catkin medallions                          in a small crooked tin. and                                                    the "hill" in the backyard now                            needed scare quotes. i both wonder                          and wondered how my step-father skied                            down a “hill” while i watched                          from the kitchen window. I hadn’t called him                              “step-father” til recently.                                                      it was here i had pointed                              at my first pun: our dog, digger, digging                            the earth at the base of the fence                          covered with honeysuckle. in the garden                            surrounded by greased railroad ties, later i dug a hole by myself. and                                                      i think i remember the small                            melted crayons in the wood play fort, the wax                          leaking both-ways, the paper still still.                                                      my small brother, I thought.                            he was going to die when                            he locked the car doors. somehow                            they squeezed a popsicle through the crack in the window.                                                                                standing on the driveway, i had looked at the                            stop sign and heard my mom mention i was allergic                            to oranges, like she was when young. on the porch,                            i had saluted the flag,                            the only time I remember that much.                                                      was it here at this house that my mother had cut me                            trying to give me a haircut, where                          she had had my blood on her hands.                            hmm, had had: combining the simple and perfect                              pasts. simple and perfect                              pasts. hmm. pasts.                                                      it was here my mom had screamed at my brother’s stream                            of pee shooting up into her face while he wriggled around the changing table.                          but was I remembering this or imagining this because                            my mom had told the story so many times.                                                      had I ever used the laundry room, the dining room,                          my parent’s room. their bathroom barely a light i can see                            reflecting down into their bedroom                            as if i had peered down the hallway.                                                      our cat, elvis, had single-clawed                          out the dehydrator a hunk of homemade beef jerky, we had suspected, still do.                                                      our reflection in the window had been a camera                          for our cooking show. my sister and i                            pretending foreign accents, teaching                          how to precisely mix chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream with spoons.                                                      my mother had weaved pretzels onto a ribbon.                          our dog ate them off the christmas tree. my step-                          sister left with her mcdonald's playset                            that used wonderbread for fries.                                                      i had worn silk dresses just to slip across                            the wood floor, for fun, and everyone had laughed.                                                      it had been my sister’s or my                            arm that rammed through the glass                            pane of the basement door. no one                          had been cut.                                                        i had nightmared beetlejuice chasing me down                          the street with a couch he was pushing at me.                                                      my step-father bought a supernintendo. I had watched                          him set it up. I had bit                            into stretch-arm-strong’s arm. the goo was sweet.                                                      I had tried to sleep like a bat from my bunk bed.                          I was the only one that slept in the bunk bed.                          unable to sleep, I had put a penny in the socket.                          it sparked so much I didn’t look at it until morning.                            I wasn’t hurt, just so scared that I gave it room to breathe,                          waited for the smoke to clear.                                                      i had looked down the lane wondering                          which was my friend’s house.                            i look down the lane still                          wondering which was my friend’s house.                                                      where was the boy now,                          who had asked me if i wanted                          to wear his mother's underwear. he had                          told me the pink power ranger was his favorite.                            i look for the barrel in the neighbor’s side-                            yard that i pissed in. if i had known the word piss                            at my age, i would have wanted to use that word.                                                      I thought or I had thought the walk                          to school was five blocks away. I walked                          two blocks and was there.                                                      the school i attended, i see now, has been razed                            to the ground and replaced. i remember nothing about                          it, only, maybe, a teacher pushing                            a cart of plants down the hall.