Switches

Dad knew which fuse box switch did what–
in this way, he chose for us the light and dark.
His hands blackened from cracking walnuts
over the years, hammering husks in the

night when the rest of us were sleeping,
loud whacks startling us temporarily awake then
drifting back into our own darknesses beneath familiar
stars. After his death, we found Dad’s walnuts

in barrels in the corner of his workshop alongside
spiders and memories we could not yet scrape.
My brother said, to honor him, we had to break
and eat each one, despite the bulk. That Dad lived

a rich life poor, that the taste might activate
memory’s accordion, careening us in and out
the past and present, turning life to death then life
again, discordant in its forlorn loudness.

 

(originally published in 3Elements Review, Spring 2018)

Submerge

From oneness: two, three, four.
Shadows through doorways.
Breath from water. Surface

bubbles, rippled sighs. The ocean
dried, became a city. Marine lights.
Pearl buildings. Skyscrapers so

old you can see the way the
world will end.
No one knows the space they occupy.

We fade in water. We fade
in air. We fade in living,
drown in life.

 

(originally published in Zany Zygote Review, Winter 2018)

 

Atmosphere

What you do say is prayer don’t burn and die
when passing through the atmosphere.

Yet, somehow, meteoroids do–
though sand-sized, they have bodies

like bullets, sometimes
copper, sometimes steel.

We’re talkin’ heaven’s ammo,
a hundred tons pounding Earth each day

unnoticed. Down here, you claim
able to speak with some cosmic, faraway force

you’ve never met while keeping closed your mouth.
You claim telepathy, so this telepathic ability

how your thoughts move healing this world
of the aftermath of bodies. Tell me:

how does God respond?
And you say God,

God protects the faithful.

So, God’s His own meteorites
cratering His house, hallelujah.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, Winter 2018)

I Think of Giraffes Sometimes. I Hope They Sometimes Think of Me.

In Kathleen’s apartment in Oregon,
I ask her where even is home?

Clevelanders-turned-transplants,
maybe never knowing.

I see my mom’s mown lawn
in the green fields our baseball

team travels through, my friends
in tweets spitting scores or stats.

These, I don’t care about,
but I join in discussion.

Blue hands to high-five,
then to put my phone down.

 

(originally published in Hobart, Winter 2018)

Even Netflix Is in Debt

There’s a vast swath of land infected by the living
dead. The desert, the plains, the cities– all beheld
by glow of screen, and we’ve dug holes too deep
for bodies. Just pray there are no more casualties,
no gunshots, no cars striking crowds, whether in
the USA or Spain– all of this is beginning to look
universal, the hatred of our own. How we pay
for the debt the nation’s entrepreneurs designed.
There’s an endless spate of horror
films upon which to feast our eyes but look
at the people walking down your street harboring
the fears society cannot afford. There is still
ample land to lay graves– land founded on holes
we placed bodies in yet we distract ourselves
with everything, looking for the next lark
to keep us living. Under blankets in living
rooms with lovers, under stars aglow through
open window, we watch the drama unfold.
We know the protagonists will always
find a way out of suffering.
Those through the window never do.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Winter 2017)

High Street Construction

The busiest road in Columbus is an obstacle course: orange cones
and road closeds (open to local traffic only). Here, in the heart
of Ohio, we build by tearing down. A red crane leaps and a small
business closes, resurrects as Target– bullseye– the suit, the lipstick.

Soon you, too, will not be able to afford to live here. The remodeled
library is threatened by the bones across the street: a nine-story
building in the midst of construction. Wind whips plastic
bags that hang from its scaffolds and I see the ghost–

the restaurant in its wake. Dark clouds
gather above, knowing they, too, have displaced.

 

(originally published in Literary Orphans, 2018)

Power Lines

electricity in the breath
of memory– the back-
country home mom
owns an endless vista
she has men care for
due to spine drooping
a road on her body
leads to membrane and
dad alive in the sky
looking down on her
fields purple or blue
the empty driveway
anyone’s welcome to

 

(originally published in Apricity Press, 2018)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)