Arizona Desert

sand lodged in the crooks of fingernails
watch the way light

reflects its own water
the last time something glimmered

was birth driving ninety
through the Arizona desert

the scorch in red rocks
pursued our same dreams

pricklier than a cactus
you leave who you love

the phone conversations
of dryer lint and treble

in heat, tires tremble
in cold, you wait

 

(originally published in “the vacant hinge of a song“, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)

Arrival

We were the hardwood floor. Cold squeaks,
outstretched panther palm, red hand,

expected the chlorine. Wax splashed
baby oil eyes and it is citrus– cinnamon, acidic.

Where we were wanted, the pitchfork path
and jagged rim,

this fungus crust metastasis, you twirl
and twirl your index finger until it leaves.

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review)

The Sacrament of Confession in Catholic School

In kindergarten, I sketched a vagina as a circle
lost in strands of hair, similar to a scribbled sun.

The inklings of want would soon
set sail. When I showed the drawing

to my mother, she somehow knew what it was.
Her suspicious eye taught me life is the pursuit

of the scribbled sun. The first time I drove a car alone,
zooming up the hill toward the highway, I took pictures

of the sunset without watching the road, as if heaven
could be captured with my own fingers. At sixteen

I stole Snickers bars at my first job. The dollar store
went under. It could have been worse. I told the priest

maybe God thinks I touch myself improperly.
He said to toss the dirty magazines, meaning

I didn’t change a thing. In marching band, I pressed
my mouth against the trombone’s silver mouthpiece

and kissed when I blew, spit coursing through the instrument’s body
until it dripped onto the checkered floor. I didn’t lose my virginity

too early. By then it was too late. I have seen the L.A. River
rub itself dry beneath the metal bridges, withered and silent,

while the ocean wets perpetual sand, and all I could do
was run my fingers through the tide’s receding hair.

In seventh grade the school librarian declared if anyone
in class could finish A Tale of Two Cities, it was me.

I did not finish. I was twelve and mastering arousal,
turning pages with fingers on thighs inside of skirts,

skulking my hand up to God, to the first time
I knew sanctity– and the feeling, unlike faith,

was enough to make me believe.

 

(originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)

1st & Delaware

wandered along the avenue to find Kurt
sitting at the mountain of a three-step staircase
don’t come up here he laughed
but the neighborhood spun faster
than the blue room I escaped
so I continued to High along the alleys
of wafting leaked gasoline and nectars
of dried roses this was not spring
but the cold allowed me briskly hack time
in a direction indicating forward
where I pleat the confines of the sidewalk’s
imaginary boundaries I drifted from
but felt motionless and free

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

“I Wish I Knew How to Quit You,” Says the Moon

We know it is us
who wish to quit the moon.

We close our eyes our jaggedness
could drive the sun away but never
in the way our metaphors could.

Still we write the moonlight
into the sand and growl
at the tide

and again
when the tide returns.

We cry from the shape
our lives took to intersect–

an hourglass
filled with sugar,
or a snail. Or a million

hourglasses, a million snails,
a million glimmering shells
in a measured slowness.

You were talking about the sunrise–
but I never wanted to look.

 

(originally published in Thin Air, Spring 2016)

Jack

This dog has seen you paint red the walls
and its color fade from sheetrock.

Rest. You walk butterfly wings,
each step a budding stem.

You and Jack love similarly, a dance
of tongue-and-stomp. Long-nailed

paws clomp heartbeats to the closed
door, painted white– a desire panting

for who is on the other side– and he waits,
as you have, on so many nights.

 

(originally published in Heartbeat, Issue 2)