Even Netflix Is in Debt

There’s a vast swath of land infected by the living
dead. The desert, the plains, the cities– all beheld
by glow of screen, and we’ve dug holes too deep
for bodies. Just pray there are no more casualties,
no gunshots, no cars striking crowds, whether in
the USA or Spain– all of this is beginning to look
universal, the hatred of our own. How we pay
for the debt the nation’s entrepreneurs designed.
There’s an endless spate of horror
films upon which to feast our eyes but look
at the people walking down your street harboring
the fears society cannot afford. There is still
ample land to lay graves– land founded on holes
we placed bodies in yet we distract ourselves
with everything, looking for the next lark
to keep us living. Under blankets in living
rooms with lovers, under stars aglow through
open window, we watch the drama unfold.
We know the protagonists will always
find a way out of suffering.
Those through the window never do.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Winter 2017)

High Street Construction

The busiest road in Columbus is an obstacle course: orange cones
and road closeds (open to local traffic only). Here, in the heart
of Ohio, we build by tearing down. A red crane leaps and a small
business closes, resurrects as Target– bullseye– the suit, the lipstick.

Soon you, too, will not be able to afford to live here. The remodeled
library is threatened by the bones across the street: a nine-story
building in the midst of construction. Wind whips plastic
bags that hang from its scaffolds and I see the ghost–

the restaurant in its wake. Dark clouds
gather above, knowing they, too, have displaced.

 

(originally published in Literary Orphans, 2018)

Power Lines

electricity in the breath
of memory– the back-
country home mom
owns an endless vista
she has men care for
due to spine drooping
a road on her body
leads to membrane and
dad alive in the sky
looking down on her
fields purple or blue
the empty driveway
anyone’s welcome to

 

(originally published in Apricity Press, 2018)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)

Illusions

look in the mirror
that’s the ghost of you
a fraction of a second ago

I look into my lover’s eyes
and she seems alive though
I know we’re wilting

together when we hold
hands the action is
a time traveler

our atoms providing
the illusion of touch
but what of the heart

does the beating keep
us breathing or the
faith that we might be

my head rests
on your chest
soft thumping

echoes of eternity
I am both part of
and removed

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

Our Neighborhood Giant Eagle Is Closing

Everything is on sale. Where once was bread
now empty shelves and strangers scanning aisles

for the last shred of good. As it closes you say
you are a little sad, but it was never your favorite

grocery store. We have been fighting a lot lately–
from our favorite tv shows, to what type of dog

we might get, to which sugary cereals to pile
into our cart with all these cheap products

that don’t fit together: taco shells, toothpaste,
store-brand mac and cheese– would you believe

a month ago this place was stocked with everything
we need? We try to talk about marriage,

our deepwater eyes zooming through the dark
into a future where we guess what will become

of this building while seeking sustenance we know
other shoppers already bought the last of.

We need a sign to give us clearance to move on–
then the cashier, ringing each item slowly

as if savoring each would save his job, repeats
thirty percent off, thirty percent off, thirty percent off,

and a little more every day.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, 2018)

The Apple and the Moon

Newton knew the force of a desire
determined the severity of impact.
If you want an apple, the thought will travel
far to haunt you. Calculus was invented
to make sense of your absence. Such
is the memory of July: Beach House
in dim lighting, your bed beside the stairwell.
One could almost roll over and…
walking up those stairs the first time,
you were not there, but searching for your
cat outside, later found hiding in the ravine.
You wouldn’t let me stay, not yet.
I would carry silence into
waning days of weeks then feast
on all the words you spoon-fed me.
I failed to boomerang magic into our
silent field, unlike our first date: cheap
chicken on the patio of World of Beers,
talking what it would take to unlock
our true selves. You called Colin
to buy molly, though I’d never
rolled. Like everything else,
that plan flaked and you never
thought of me again.

 

(originally published in Man in the Street Magazine, Winter 2018)

Cheez-It®

for now cheap breakable wheat is my bible okay

I’ve been in this basement for three days

etc. etc.

orange skies in the psalms of your dimples
(my throat is parched…)

it’s simple          open your palms

for your mouth

you could fit needles in these holes
                                                       constellations in these holes

should’ve put those tiny strings of stars
in my cart to bide my time

instead of sacks of snacks
to fill                                           & fill myself

until I rip open my last plastic head

dust volcanoes       until my eyes bleed Sunshine red

my fingertips          light & salted tiger sticks

my preacher says Jesus won’t eat Cheez-Its

I believe crumbs
lodged in teeth will return in three days

 

(originally published in Unlikely Stories Mark VI, Fall 2017)