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)

All the Bulbs are Burning Out

I am scared to death
of death.

Not just the big death
but tiny deaths, too.

All the bulbs are burning out
in my house one by one.

In living, we accrue small darknesses.

Mirror to mirror: void
where my eyes should be.

Hung mauve towel.
Vines of black mold.

Plastic ringlets steady
stained curtain infinity.

The silver shower faucet was once
a sunflower dreamed of fluorescence.

Now, downpour, no bright
for every prayer.

Gallons of black shower
(plead with God just–).

Gobs of

gobs and gobs of hair
cling to the drain.

Genuflect in the porcelain pitter-patter.

A feedback loop of weeps.

Hot water, cold water,
no water.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

Broke in L.A.

The only deals I actually found in Vons
were in clearance. Beers half-off per bottle.
They’ll be ready in a box in my too-orange,
too-granite Public Storage space when I am.

Bearded teens saunter by in lumberjack caps.
I will wait for more significant events in my life
to drink the harp whose tones keep me moving.

Think about teeth– among the homeless drifters
I probably consume the most peanut M&M’S,
filling my days with processed rainbows and crunch.
How do you stop? I was at the 7th Street Metro, one a.m.,
no one there and the halls echoed in perpetuity.

Purple line for purple folk. I’m purple
from dehydration. Mixture of gravel and headspace.
Play me some ukulele. The strings react to the roar
of coming trains, twenty minutes late.

This is what I hear: my name is Grace.
I want to direct, and these are my roommates.
I realize even in the city’s darkest depths,
no one is alone, even after the dream fades.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)

Announcing The Mantle: A Contemporary Literary Journal

I have started a long-gestating project:

The Mantle is an online quarterly journal dedicated to compelling, contemporary poetry, committed to publishing the most memorable poetry we receive and will nominate for both Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Send poems that are odd, poignant, beautiful, or oddly poignant yet beautiful. Send poems you’re proud of whether raw, refined, or jagged.

Check out the full submission guidelines here and consider sending your work!

Pool Party

Yesterday we were at a pool party
attended by only a few others. It was
dog-friendly, as it was last week,
so the lone, small white dog
lapped water into his mouth
while on an inflatable raft and we
stood in silence and watched as he
drank the blue that held the specks
of fallen leaves and submerged spiders
while our beers turned warm. Last week
we were at a party in the same house
with a few of the same people but the
sun was out and I did not have to keep
wondering if you were okay, if you would
dip your feet into the clear with me and all
the people we did not know then because,
last week, a stranger in a bar did not yet
shake your body and bite you
long after you begged him not to–
no, the night before last week’s party
we danced to nineties hip-hop
inside the shadows of others until
we could not help but mine our
bodies for gold. Last week, we laughed
as the dog lapped the pool into his mouth
but watching, now, we know there are some
who force a tongue at whatever water
they see fit, how they lap and lap
until there’s nothing but a splash
of what they lapped at all.

 

(originally published in The Collapsar, Summer 2016)