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)

On the Walk to the Polling Place

Some birds zigzag
below shrapnel clouds
and others, perched
on limbs, chatter
about migration
in this chill
because the leaves
in your yard
are a different shade
than your neighbor’s,
but each tree
casts its own
ballot into earth
and waits
for the season
to change.
Scrunching
all the dead
beneath your boots
along the way
to the church
with the cookies
and machines,
you pass big,
brick houses
with American flags
and jack-o-lanterns’
sunken smiles
on porch steps
and city workers
who have been
fixing power lines,
building structures,
patching roads
for so many months,
and so many months
to go.

 

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

Young

I can tell you how many points LeBron scored last night
or who won the World Series,
but I can’t fix the leaking faucet in the bathroom,
won’t mow the lawn if not overgrown.

I don’t change the oil in my Ford
nor bring home a solid paycheck–
but I will live in an apartment
to avoid responsibility.

I’ll pay lots of money to tell
a landlord I can’t do it.

I’ve already lived in a car to avoid the responsibility
of telling a landlord I can’t do it.

I didn’t know how to fix it when it broke down,
and a Samaritan changed my flat tire when I burst it
when turning into a potholed Burger King lot
and I claimed I was about to fix it.

He told me not to pay more than twenty-five dollars for a used tire–
no more than twenty-five dollars, and get the rim hammered out
for free!

I went to the tire shop and paid their thirty-five to avoid conflict.
Wordlessly they stopped eastbound traffic on Pico
and I backed away and left.

One thing I can do well is parallel park,
as if reverse-navigation is worth bragging about

but I’ll take it.

No one has the courage to fit inside this small space.
No one can fit inside here but me

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)

In This Cafe You Thought You’d Find Solace from This World

through speakers 70s music bass
guitar heartbeat pulsating through
a weatherman chants forecasts out
of sync a microwave beeps the shrill
coffee machines trembling cash
register slamming baritone voice
barista says he has bad hearing you
said something before sandwich fan
spins no rhythm stringed spurt richochet
solos quiet everyone reading books
tablets not responding to chaos burnt
bagel wafting sorry sorry the window
rain begins drum drum drum drum
one two three four the faucet spits
on everyone walks in don’t you
want somebody to love?

 

(originally published in IthacaLit, Spring 2018)