Excessive Drinking

I am a sun-drenched willow field withered and
purple. Headache remiss, wonder when the liver
will churn its nightly clarion call, squeezing rags
to drag the water out.

Sometimes the nights are like that in the silence
between friends. The drafts replace talking.
You can’t hear the words with breath so still
and distant, willows soon awakening.

 

(originally published in Transcendence Magazine, Summer 2016)

Two Guys, Two Gallons of Yuengling, Two Plastic Jugs

Tongues composed of lager and slathered words drip
turbulence from the roadmaps of mouths, the ocean’s
rock and regurgitation. We meandered along brick-paved
roads with half-amber jugs in our hands, how quickly
we drown but how slowly we swayed on swings
in the frigid, desolate playground at night by the highway,
eyes entranced by the spotlight from the city’s hidden heart
we desire but never find but in the beer’s flat hops like a pair
of clumsy trombonists, asynchronous staccatos and B-flat
scales bottling air from silver mouthpiece to S.O.S–

 

(originally published in Cacti Fur, Summer 2016)

Two-Year Lovesong

and the tide comes and goes like my foot in and out of the water lowering the gate to oblivion i hold your hand in highest regard in the pantheon we were regal all the modern day utensils utilized today a kind of balled rain if you can hold it without it dissipating you are the master of the clouds a red ladder leading to the top of mount everest where one will never rest among the cozy mattresses i almost assign an acadian victory holding loose the lips of passion and allowing everyone roam free

and the castle moat which floats in some space between imagination and fantasy holds to the gabardine moon just a flick of the lighter away on some space runway eternal light rushing some unmatchable beauty is found in the absence of all other light some unimaginable thing the first time you experience sunshine after birth your first kiss at a high school dance the music swaying both of you two mouths pressed against each other full of the moon like some wakeful sleep how it is as memory

(initially published in an alternate form in The Open Mouse)

Lance’s Lament

as we gathered to mourn
the puppy struck by a car
outside of the bank,
i was reminded of glue:
how it encrusts fingers; if
it could seep through skin
it would sleep in your lungs
& heart & hasten the path
to the common rest

they couldn’t have fastened
the coffin with glue– too cruel,
they said–

if your hand could even summon
the will to move

a square, red magnet fastens
your snow origami valentines forever
to green construction paper, tiny prayers
bottled

i hope there is another side, even when i open
the door for orange juice, cool breath of air
within, glass, it breathes, infested
with my own fingerprints, tartness
prior to the swallow
& acceptance– for as long as i am,
you are, too

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)

How We Talk

we condescend to clear glass
so the air heliums with want
even with fire’s slow pulldown of string

the cacophonous wooden notes
(f-sharp descends to d-flat)
strangle the neck violin

fingers distance from tiny sheathing white hairs
on your cheek’s salt hill

fingerpuppets in beanies pirouette
in overheated ballets

the conductor parts the orchestra
into the red sea, left crescendo
right crescendo rippled tidal
pulling apart from each other

slowly, hats dance
further, hats dance the tarantism
sans heads turning to meet eyes

hands dance in thunderbang
unison, auditorium of electric energy
the smoke waning

leaving our lips
in one last, exhumed breath

 

(originally published in Random Poem Tree, Winter 2016)

Phone Conversation with My Sister on Christmas Day

The trees are dead, she said.
Peering outside, it was true:
A still-barren sixty degrees, sun
meekly reveling in its new warm.

A week ago, our mother cut down the tree
we picked apples from as children.
They were small, red, never delicious–
brown and burrowed with worms

because anything sweet from the skin
isn’t as sweet as you might think.
All those colorful lights we tied around
the necks of plastic and decoration,

the way we choked the holiday,
wrung out the last ounces of life
from the animal ornaments on every pine.
The walrus with the broken tusk.

The hyena whose laugh can nearly
be heard. As if anthropomorphizing could
ever atone for the past but I would love
to believe in a world where a fragment of

a tusk means something is truly missing–
perhaps rickety laughter ringing through
thin walls, dominant as the wooden organ
moans his mantra: everything in this world

is connected. Not every connected thing
is aware of its living, its connection.
But the way fingers dance deep
resonance out of the organ’s shifty teeth

to provide holiness for the changed house
is the gift we must open for ourselves
with our hands full of music– a sourness
in harmony, an ode to shriveled apples.

(originally published in Flatbush Review, Winter 2016)

Magic

If you bought me a wizard hat,
I would learn magic

–to easily complete these blue pajamas
adorned with white stars, the soft and safe.

In the day we glimmer. At night–

let’s make sleep a spell, a slow
slip into lullaby, a cradle free

from disagreement, a glass of wine
to forget we inhaled the wind.

We almost floated
into the squeeze of dark. In bed

I watch cartoons in my head: Fantasia fireworks. Flames
that frame the bitter sky. Neon daisies in glowing eyes.

I dream hours researching the best tongue
to learn. The world may need a hero to

vanquish evil through fire, or ice, but all I want
is the kind of magic that keeps you warm at night,

far removed from my cold touch. The kind
where we whisper warm enchantments,

recite words which will not conjure ice.

 

(originally published in Switched-On Gutenberg, Summer 2016)

Skeletons of New Year’s Eve

I do not perceive you as obsessed with death
even if, days before, our jovial talks of dying

led to sugar-frosted blue wondering at the sky.
We planned to pop champagne for the birth

of feeling alive: winter hardens soil so we must dig
to the laughter we share in our spines.

We did not drink white wine, but the beer was breath
without knowing the scent– like any year,

we were paintings of light and dark, of limb
and bone so disordered to stand is a triumph,

and hope is a kaleidoscope, a conjecture.
Each dying wave returns, even at the frayed edge

of memory, how the dead are lavish with flowers
and stories. Still, we press on to uncork

our champagne future: drafts of breath in each
new year, dead waves haunting the mortal tide

with no specific beginning, no obvious end.

 

(originally published in Liquid Imagination, Summer 2016)