Shifting Junes

I have convinced myself
all birds fly as soon as they see sky

I know each wing on each one
is different

Grounded I tend to speak aluminum
from the grand piano of my throat

It is a sunny thirty

The sun beams over a painting
of a palm supporting an oak

Believe me I want my tongue
to bloom good petals

I cannot get enough of being
alone

Imagine a single light
at the far end of a cave

so faint you must remember
you’re awake

Blow the dust
from the ivories

Play flat notes detuned
through my lips

I want the truth
yet spit loose gravel

into the chasm
of my lover’s ear

 

(Originally published in Poetry Super Highway, Summer 2017)

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Forming a Habit of Light Jogging

I feel good about myself
for the first time in millennia.
I mean,

I’m running galaxies compared
to glacial workdays married
to a silver Hewlett-Packard.

Here’s the secret to love:
treat yourself like shit
until you find someone

who makes you not
treat yourself like shit (lotus
petals unfolding…)

There are worse pasts
than ones rooted in mud,
being one who never snorted

or crushed up little orange pills to
ride into the eternity of night. Each
darkness used to be forever. My feet

would walk last week’s scattered toenail clippings
in my small bedroom. Dad often said drinking water
flushes the poison out of your system. The light

of morning flushes each yesterday. Even my toilet,
now armed in the tank with self-cleansing blue
discus, reincarnates in purified clouds. But I am

half-lion, half-man, when sprinting Neil
Avenue, bleach seeping from skin
into my sensitive parts.

The rotation of running
makes me laundry-in-progress
inside this spinning rock. I won’t lie

and say I have forgotten each love
in all our small mutual failures,
how running through neighborhoods

caused us to stumble into intersections
like Flower & 7th or how, in sprinting
toward imaginary finish lines,

we never flung our bodies
through the atmosphere of believing
forever-is-our-rhododendron-garden. Instead

we’d gash our knees on concrete,
look into each other’s black eyes
and laugh, believing we may have fooled

ourselves for good this time. At home
we’d foam our cuts with hydrogen peroxide
from those cheap, brown, plastic bottles

and wonder why some wounds won’t bubble
while others form dwarf star whites
who sting, then fade, in time.

 

(originally published in The Indianapolis Review, Summer 2017)

Rotational Quantum States

We have so far to fall.

Excited electrons
weaken in descent.

Photons of longer wavelength
are fluorescence.

Do not wait for morning to end.
Allow its gradual mean to untangle

the phosphorescence
of a lover’s vine,
complex and intimate.

Coefficients teach us
probabilities for absorption
and emission are the same.

We take what we give.

The initial absorption
puts electrons
in a more stable state.

Hold light for as long as you can.

 

(originally published in The Write Place at the Write Time, Summer 2017)

Mechanics

dad rode motorcycles
through west virginia

mountains gathering speed
in the stillness of wheels

yet you are afraid to change
oil or fix your slow traction

of time– anything mechanical
is coiled magic in function.

the broken-down car sputters.
the ghost lays on cardboard

leaking, dripping synthetic
black splotches on concrete–

no knowledge remains.
there is a rattle

in the carburetor
when you drive

 

(originally published in The Good Men Project, Summer 2017)

East Through California

I argue with the music in my car again
those rock’n’roll pots and pans clanging
in the soup kitchen of my imagination
the Steel Reserve of my rumba rumblin’
stomach unfilled from Maruchan ramen

really I’m running from anything but home:
in the apartment of my car the desert’s
a sandstorm of faulty A/C and mountains
obscuring the view of my future and
there’s nowhere else to go but here

 

(originally published in Outcast Poetry, Spring 2017)