Plane Delay

You learn your plane
has been delayed
again.

You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or

calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know

the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay

stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like

she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when

it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.

 

(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 2016)

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Max’s Porch

we’re on a playground of mosquitos
finding poems about space and math
to read because his brother’s in town
and he’s an idealistic futurist
so they trade science poems
and smoke and dreams (a glass
of water the tides of Lake Erie)
I ask which Little Caesar’s location
is your favorite all time (five dollar
orange brown cardboard. gas
station lighters burning thumbs)
everyone answers the one in my hometown
and we’re 1997 sitting in a mildew basement
sketching cartoons in blue binders on greasy
carpets full of the future waiting for the future
and mallards in the pond sing all wing and trouble
hoping for something to disturb the water
so they can fly

 

(originally published in Pouch)

Infinite Strings

It was Maxwell
who asked
if algebra
can be extended.
My theory is
it is possible
if we are infinite
strings of numbers,
if an unknown
number
of remaining days
is what
makes us immortal.
With him
gone,
I recite
as many
digits
of pi
as I can
just to feel
my tongue
flicker again–
does the universe
confuse numbers
with the heart’s
density, or
sparsity?
The night sky’s
violins
sing arias
for minor
constellations
that connect
to never-
ending strings
of
days–

 

(originally published in Columbia College Literary Review, Spring 2017)

Dogs

i know it’s the other way around
but i see the dogs in people

that intense hunger of waiting
by a wooden door so close to the thrust of opening

i want to eat the walls that keep you away
the doorknob you twist to leave
the blankets you always hide beneath

i hold my waste for hours
the measured discipline

when you speak your breath is memory
what you’ve consumed
i can’t look anywhere else

push me away i cling to you a vestige
of humanity is all remains the last living thing
who would love me

you and your bureaucratic affection
the withholding of every emotion
makes you vulnerable

i was born to want you by my side

you
my lamb
my wishbone
between teeth

like a star holds to gravity
before its collapse

some adherence to light
before the drift

the absolute zero of desire
far from the wild where
we were raised to want

close to where we want to be

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)

Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

Church

Before you had a name, you were a stranger
searching for one.

Gravel, asphalt, salt, and stone–
I pieced you together, a church from scratch,
your holiness in my uttered breaths
of limestone, mortar, love…

your tall steeple stabbed the sky.
I could hear clouds dissipate,
crows caw and congregate
in our mutual worship of you.

Maybe you never needed a name.

When you vanished, my heart
reconstructed itself with God’s rubble,
compounded from type-two plastic,
Coca-Cola cans, rubber bands…

I never learned your name. With my mouth,
my body aflame, your steeple burned.

Bricks and timber screened
the sky. The smoke and fade–

the gray, the fog– that
was your name.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)

Cardinals

Cold fronts enter spring, but cardinals
sing their frigid songs despite soft snow.

Red lips still curl over the sidewalk’s cigarettes
but warmth dissipates when smoke leaves the body.

Pale hands reach from corners of blurry photographs–
push through crowds of these-were-my-lovers

tines of bright puncture darkness. Negative dust
turns to light: the telescope observed your eyes

wandering the dark. Believe the perched cardinal
is lost love thinking of you who sculpts the moon

out of papier-mâché– scope the abyss for stars
but smell the art’s silver crumble on your skin.

 

(originally published in Thirteen Myna Birds, Fall 2016)