Raskolnikov

the weight of an axe sleeps
between us in bed.

we dream of horses
wanting to whip us

until the stable
lives up to its name.

the pawnbroker’s hunched shadow
further crumples into shadow.

there it is, a black apple–
and your pupils, telling truths into the dark.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)

Anew

I am full of vacancy and noise and technically six glasses
of water before bedtime. Much can be said about wanting

to purify yourself. I dipped myself in water again last
week. I’m telling you it works: you mash two bodies

together until fizzled and deflated on the cusp– saggy but
renewed. Steam leaves the bucket with a fat-lipped breath,

purple. Sometimes it does not work. By the hearth,
just your long, brown hair. By the heart, nothing.

Just a worn wood by the cabin in the woods.
Mountains of snow in my head– she freezes

my thoughts at the peak. A gambler. A hope.
Red strings. A harp. Faith. Burn, burn, burn.

 

(originally published in Thirteen Myna Birds, Autumn 2016)

To Paige (From Jack)

no one else spell w – a –
l – k jus ta invigarate

our senses & tendons
jus me & u, ta be outside

& sniff da wine in roses, .

when ya dance arms a whirlwind i dont speak
cuz i kno a days come we both dancin

& howlin, listen da moon whisprin secrets
& i dont want ya palms leave my full belly

da way da sun snatch ya gone in mornins.

dont want u to wake : it mean some
time u stay , other time da wooden gate

outside squeak & take u where my nose
cant find u, , sometime fa days . i chew

on bones u gave til my tongue become
a skeleton thirstin . , i wait fa blue sky

ta stop ringin da sun , when da day turn
gray , when u somehow materalize ..

dats when i have u : darkness : u sleepin
on ya bed a bleach & purple catmint .

i pray da bright awful requiem dont
replay– when u rise i wonder if

today u turn ta harmony , , or void
& how long . but

wid u beside me ,
no need ta wonder .–

u,, protected , & me ,
nose fulla ya petals ,

da sauvignon in roses .

 

(originally published in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Autumn 2016)

Ender’s Game

We were children foretold to save the world.
We made love in alleys hidden from the moon.

We calculated the trajectory of movement,
fleeing into battle rooms of weightlessness
inundated with that floating feeling
of our necessary covalence.

In our battle room at night
you could not hear chirps
or hums of passing cars.
No one heard laughter change

to scorn, our mouths throttled with heavy.

I was too young to command.
In a way, the dark alleys orbited secret histories:
time haunting the ghosts of war themselves.

We were honored with medals, golden kisses
long after we gave ourselves naked to freezing water.

We became a star unaware of emitted light.
To touch was to will ourselves to sleep,
to die knowing we had always been at war,

every word a battle without the why.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)

Shapelessness

As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–

my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.

The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,

a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.

For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
long enough and someone will notice. No one

likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear

of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
My shapelessness. My tendency to drift

so far away that I never fully return.

 

(originally published in Jazz Cigarette, Autumn 2016)

Observations from the Westside Pavilion Bridge

I.

stationary at the couch by the window over the street the cars move unseen beneath me in lines in some complex order that means they don’t crash into each other    the sound of engines is replaced with repetitive 4/4 pop music snare singer pleading for her lover to return but in Los Angeles   who do you return to

II.

locks click from storefront doors a Chinese family appears from behind the off-white pillar the mother in loose pink flowy shirt and dress takes a photo in front of the window her daughter in a white-and-red striped shirt her husband in a blue-and-pink striped shirt so much pink so many binding stripes and the mother captures that lone moment  the sky a tender backdrop

III.

a grandma walks a black stroller and makes a soft kind of train noise shh guh shh guh in syncopated beats as she travels in circles    the rolling sound of the stroller-like luggage in an airport    constant whir    her mouth a muted hi-hat to some imaginary beat on her third pass-by   the baby in pink stirs and she stops her mouth’s percussion and tends to the baby who is quiet but lifts her arm in the air   silhouette to the window of the world    cookies and cream   loose leggings

IV.

a man in his fifties eats macha ice cream alone near Dillard’s   walks in front of a blonde man in a cowboy hat water bottle in hand tying his shoelaces      the ice cream man on the other side of the window underneath the Westside Center sign stares at his reflection     he moves from the window bits of cone now lodged in his graying mustache

V.

the green palms reflected on the speckled cream floor    ripples in a pond blow so gently     outside a man with twenty hands and countless fingers     dances and puppeteers

VI.

two Mexican women with glowing purses hanging on their right shoulder walk in near-unison   one just a half-step ahead until the fast one stops to fix her shoe before walking into Nordstrom glass door squealing open       at its most open it sounds like a bad brake on a car      the other keeps walking

VII.

older man in a reddish shirt has a chocolate cone at 11:45pm   stands on the wide black stripe on the floor in front of the imposing silver pillar that splits in the middle like a buttcrack     he stands    licking staring forward at TVs     that advertise movies now playing in the theaters of his daydreams

VIII.

half of the iPhone billboard outside would be indiscernible    half white space stubs of fingers touching green fabric in a lazy V the space below it a half-globe of nothing   the squeaking of shoes slowly silence the man in blue beneath as he does not even notice I watch as he tucks his manila folder under his left armpit

IX.

mountains are indiscernible from buildings in the distance     curved with specks of white that hint at strange windows or a deepening mist that seem to want to envelop the rest of us    and how do we know it won’t

X.

a faraway pedestrian timidly crosses the intersection illegally   she slows but proceeds   and from my vantage point she crosses to the smell of the soy in the pad see ew that steams in front of me

XI.

the light which hangs above these walls of shades of gray is latticed in spiderweb    I cannot tell if the gentle sway-shaking is imaginary  or earthquake  all these little triangles hovering jittering above me   I wonder if this is how the universe actually moves   or what it truly looks like

XII.

upside-down reflections of walking legs move as the inverse of walking and sway with a sexy air voluminous breeze parting    moving away in a regal but  aimless sashay

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

At the Mar Vista Public Library

the ponytail blonde in the banana sweater & black leggings
floats in some fiction world she belongs in
then asks the librarian a question I cannot hear

she shrugs when she speaks
(reluctant windmill)

she figure-skates her slow, shelved glissando
(fantasia of the no-talking zone)

I am writing this poem when
she shoots past my table
with a green hardcover book–

I did not catch the title
or ask for her name
so I am left with
only my words:

anxieties
I find harder
& harder to
decipher
every
day

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)