Short Return to LA

With every step, the air parted
and spoke your name.
Smog and all, would you forget

the jagged alleys where
we fermented, became wine?
Its knife cut ribbons, red

repelling the pressure of four A.M breathing.
Driving home from San Francisco down the coast,
each Joshua tree prayed

to a vastness greater than the desert.
The long, Pacific vistas became the sheen
of old Mustangs caught beneath shadows

of Wilshire’s vacant towers.
Our heels kicked dust
and browned the sky–

ever were the hours sand
on the beach, infinite and pearling
a microscopic glint…

the ocean still haunts–
its salt so embedded
in our skin.

 

(originally published in Rust+Moth, Spring 2016)

Happy Hour Whiskey

I don’t think my dad would be proud of me
writing poems on bar napkins
after that fifth happy hour whiskey.

This is how I want it: to be disengaged
by the time my uniform cuffs roll
to my eyes in stupor to avoid the

solemn eyes of ancestors in the sky.
Transparent Mufasas and steely voices
judge me like America judges Kardashians.

The reality is you can rewind the DV tape
back to the beginning tomorrow and show me
the footage of my stumbling into the driver’s seat.

The cosmos roll in their graves.
Meanwhile I am the last child
who can cast the line onward–

past, present, future.
A syzygy from birth.
The headlights wane.

 

(originally published in Jawline Review, Spring 2016)

To Emily (From Angel)

To run away would prove
the wild still within me,

taming that short fence with my claws
to catapult into the trees where birds

and squirrels and spiders sleep alone.
I look starward when you lure me

out among the sparrows. I am no monster
who lurks in twilight, but sometimes

exist memories I never made, when cool air
rushes into me through the window screen

like the moon commanding the tide–

I am not fully water but, like you, an animal embedded
with her feral past– my sisters teach me to hunt,

mice dangling from their mouths that haunt afternoon naps
on your heavy bed– my beautiful sisters never knowing

how it feels to be a princess, gold and pink
tiaras glistening between their royal ears.

I would not belong in those sprawling
forests from my dreams. The hunger

from the wild’s lack of you
would tremble my true heart home

under starlight’s navigation– to here,
where my whiskers graze your calves,

where I am cradled in your arms
in the company of heartbeat:

a sweetness, a tenderness
the feral could never dream of.

 

(Originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)

Nomads

I know you want to leave, to take a bus
out of Columbus, to fight your battle
in Seattle, or Denver, or wherever
your heart may lead–

to be a nomad is to go
where the landscape dreams,
and to scrunch it all in your hand
like wisps of dandelion in the wind,

and in your palm its feathery white
is dissolution–

however far you go, know those you meet
will occupy the rooms in the tiny hostel
of your heart, sharing wisdom and laughter
despite however many days we spend apart.

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Martian Waters

they found water there, so we can move to Mars–
red planet god of war never knew the need for mercy.

the milky way could use another arm,
another trillion, twinkling stars, a slow phase

pregnant with planets bearing
tall pines stabbing pink skies,

white mountaintops a cold heaven.
in America, communities die one tragedy at a time.

our rivers are rancid and oxygen is halitosis.
maybe we’re dreaming, drinking

through sunrise– that’d explain our inability
to reason, expecting god to save us

from a doctrine
more widespread than bullets.

maybe we trust too much– the way
we comfort the grieving, a surplus

of prayer, words passing the breeze.
there were clumps of dead leaves before autumn began.

it’ll be beautiful, what then.
the season will kill and kill.

we’ll mourn our addiction to mercy,
wonder if it’s worth it

to bring a child into the world,
shuttled from her innocent rest

to our blood, soil fresh and familiar.
what’ll autumn do, then,

with winter afraid
to enter a landscape

already dead?

 

(originally published in The Derails Review, 2016)

Dead Bugs in the Light Fixture

from bed we stared upward
at dead bugs in the light fixture

dark spots scattered so motionless
at the foot of what blinds and allures

you said I’m not going to remove them
I mentioned the blinds were parted this entire time

you said a homeless man lives across the street
but the cold and snow would prevent anyone from watching

the light was dimmed
neither of us intended escape

I learned a stinkbug can withstand temperatures
of negative twenty I had tossed one into snow

and it froze meaning its heart turned cold
in an instant and I expect it to

the shell lifeless and its own
dark spot in the snow

the walls were already painted olive
you said you could live with that

we guessed the time and now past midnight
you hadn’t done your reading for the morning

so I returned to the salted road
cruising past dark snow

and trees no cars
no other lights

for miles just ice
just cold just frosts

and frozen bugs
expecting spring

to bring some kind of meaning

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit)