Gate C55

Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:

a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows

of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–

we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure

but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber

the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–

where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds

descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.

 

(originally published in Rust  + Moth, Autumn 2016)

Clutching My Stomach in the Bathroom

in front of the mirror wondering
how you made it through those nine months
to get nothing but condensation from a cloud
yes the smiles returned in the desert
when the scythe allowed we spoke truths
and asked everyone to provide thirst
because we were the cacti with reservoirs
of lust and destruction
laid out in desiccate flowerbeds
our wallets filled with zinnias
while we were filled
from the green of living
sometimes we are horses
galloping along dirt paths
and westbound highways
hoping they lead to ocean
but it leads always to night
to hunger
we barely know how to be raw anymore
how to sink dead teeth into apples
and want the core
our thin gums only cling to our mouths
because there’s nowhere else to call home
no more words that can make you
believe in a future

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Summer 2016)

Ghosts

Heard the word son alone in the kitchen
of my childhood home.

His gravelly drawl was unmistakable.
I waited for him to say more, but

memories of my father are strangers
to each other. And every stranger

becomes a ghost passing
through another stranger’s life.

A wind tapped at the window,
wanted to say something, too.

When he was alive,
I did not listen

until I wanted
and I did not want

until he was silent
in a disposable suit.

I gave it a shot: pressed my ears
against the shingles, cold.

The wind
mimicked ghosts.

 

(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Fall 2016)

What Einstein Got Right

that we all fall down eventually,
that we hear our sun’s breathing
in our own – heavy enough to forget
our faces on the value of pavement–
we sleep on cardboard– hearts of love,
love, love, and words fall from our throats
into bedridden lovers– we sink into our
soft pillows, silks and robes and fingers,
wholly into darkness, into sleep,
and fall much further than the universe intended

 

(originally published in Manhattanville Review, Fall 2016)

Franklin Avenue in 2015

Two years ago, we would drink tall beers
hidden in black, plastic bags ’til we passed
from laughter, fluttered to fill
our glasses with more.

There would have been more pages
to turn, but none of us spoke our
human language anymore.

Now, a browned frond slumps
between parked cars.

Two teenagers flirt
underneath a palm. Whispered leaves
are fragile– each movement
a link to the next
until it is not.

Their laughs reverberate
when they, too, part. Uncork
those swan bottles–
let them go, graceful
into night.

 

(Originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Public Urination

I manifest prayer
into the unspoken covenant of suburbia,

the gravel pockmarked by drought,
by time, trickling time. . .

the desert calls its rare waters oasis– so,
purge the monstrous depths of your chosen gorge,

knives outwardly aimed
at some balloon’s held breath–

 

(originally published in Pouch, Spring 2016)

Staying at Ben’s Apartment

was sad. The bathroom garbage bin
was empty except for a milky bag,
a milky bag. I spent a few days
staring at walls that lacked art, clocks,
plaques– wayward whites. I searched
the swinging ceiling fan for meaning,
its light hanging even as the nightmares
swirled and buoyed my sleep. On that
first midnight, I received an email
from Ema to confirm our petals had withered.
Desiccate yet still green somehow I slept
and slept and slept not anxious for the sun’s
return or its return to me, not that it did
for a while. I looked for this midnight whisper
days later to question again our phantoms,
sprinting through Gmail plains of text, but no,
this was a phantom, too. I whispered e-m-a with
my fingers into the search thus yielded darlings,
xoxo starlings and chains that floated from the
screen’s waterfall out into eternity, tethered
to the runoff running to that unknown place
where even phantoms go to die.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse Magazine, spring 2016)

Like a Box of Chocolates

Did you know what you were going to get, strolling
through the supermarket handpicking chocolates,

deciding between pecan bon bons, truffles,
and white chocolate shells filled with fudge?

We did not yet know the salt of incandescence,
your caramel smile on the roof of my mouth,

blind with each other’s taste, the lavender
some sickly rose blooming.

We melted together in the sun not worrying
about how our distinct tastes would smelt and swirl

around in our greedy mouths how our tongues flicked
and explored until we were almost satisfied but

every good thing melts the way autumn crumples
at the peak of its most swirling sweetness.

 

(originally published in bluepepper, 2016)