The Return

There is no tender way to say
our years apart were bedbugs
crawling along our skin
the further apart we moved
and crawled these barefoot floors
at the fragile hanging cord of lust
and painted portraits shades
of aluminum sunsets til dusk
drinking red wine to fall
again, and again, and–
there was no tender way
to leave and no tender way
uncorked to watch the final
seasons of idealism in how
we’d lay but never think
of what would happen should
one day we choose the dark.

 

(originally published in The Icarus Anthology, Summer 2017)

Horoscope – May 12, 2017

You generally enjoy your dreams, Taurus,
but not this last one in which your lover
invites her Iowan ex to your house

and they wear your jeans while
you yell at cabinets of lipstick. There
are layers of red on each wall’s face

and you run outside after her
Honda yelling at its exhaust
along cornfields of mid-America.

Meanwhile, in real life, you
two have yet to get in a fight.

Maybe you should do that soon.

 

(originally published in Yes, Poetry, 2017)

Weekends

You said it was your best birthday weekend ever.
You sang on stage in a large bar surrounded by friends.

When we turned our bodies into rhythm, pulsations,
and streamlines, the physical elements of snow and rain–

of kisses outside in blowing wind, and people honking,
winnowing by, I wondered about unicycle riders, the way

they wheel tall along sidewalks, straight-thin razor
cutting sound– their legs in cycled motions suggesting

let’s drag this out until we can’t

 

(originally published in Home Planet News Online, 2017)

The Sunflower Field in Yellow Springs

was full and yellow in summer
but we arrived in autumn
when the sunflowers were withered
and drooping brown
to the ground
stem necks snapped perhaps slowly
and knowing nothing of summer
we lost our sense of fall
and we joked maybe someone
came to kill them all
but the local bookseller said
it’s just too late to grow
so we wandered past closed
shop after closed shop
thinking about the lovely things
we heard this town would offer
but knowing the dead sidewalks
with each lonely step
it was only talk

 

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

Old Songs

on the phone you ask
who old lyrics were written for
I say my writing is not literal
these are imaginary girls

you ask who are these imaginary girls
I say they are lonely
in imaginary ways they alone imagine
the ways they are lonely

I lay under a dim fluorescent bulb
a soft cotton sheet on my skin
digging a deeper crater in my bed
as in a bodiless void

 

(originally published in Bitterzoet Magazine, 2017)

Real Shit

We’re eating Thai food, like we were supposed to do yesterday,
and I tell you that spice level, I couldn’t handle but next I know

we’re walking through alleys shoulder-to-shoulder when you ask
when you gonna talk about the real shit? And we keep on, sun

dipping to avoid the real conversations and I know this box of Stella
in my hand isn’t strong enough to make me start, but in my house

there’s honey whiskey, and I ask if that’s real enough but no,
too much sweetness. We drink anyway, ice falling from freezer

to floor as I reach for Old Crow to hurry to some kind of real talk,
the kind we couldn’t find on our walk to Giant Eagle

but there are bonfires too hot for our hearts in the real world,
a tinder of paper and logs we decide not to learn the names of

and we’re drowning whiskeys, beers, and slow small-talk
telling each other about exes to the flame’s orange humming

and that’s real, I thought, but not real shit and so the hanging lights
are unplugged and we’re searching for stars through clouds of smoke

and we talk about how little we know, how far we want to go
but beside you those stars don’t seem so far and in the swirl

of darkness we kiss, realize that’s the real shit
until we open enough to tell each other.

 

(originally published in Cease, Cows, Fall 2017)

Alarm Clock

we woke from something beautiful (kissing
finally alone) only two hours of sleep when melodies
from the other room infiltrate our ears we wonder
where it is we want to take ourselves / where we can
believe in magic that isn’t ours / laying on a pull-out bed
with harsh spring coils like relying on the several bottles
we drank hours before to help us wake up honesty

 

(originally published in FORTH Magazine, Fall 2017)