Lawnmower string / guitar heart–
pull, strum, start then stop the song.
It’s dead grass. Its broken neck.
B-chord specks. Shades of saffron.
It’s dandelion season–
one reason to sing with blades.
Grass frets yet begins anew.
Rotors drone through spring. Charades.
(originally published in The Road Not Taken, Summer 2016)
rust– my heart’s jigsaw
exhaust– speaking’s black smoke
skid marks– don’t stop
steppes become sycamores
lakes become deserts
lips– sun-dried song and stale reed
saxophone– barren of sound
you– between the dents
the sun– unforgiving
(originally published in Ghost City Review, Autumn 2016)
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)
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
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)
(originally published in Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Winter 2016)
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.
(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Fall 2016)
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)
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
(Originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)
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)