The alley is paved with old bricks
blackened by rain. I used to want
conformity, that tidal hope gripping
your gut. You must have a family soon.
Everywhere babies are sprouting
but garden sprinklers are off because winter
is near, crackled dirt longing for storm–
how long since the rough of gale and rain?
Seasons, in these frigid airs. And my seedling
heart stopped growing soon after its first beat.
(originally published in The Coachella Review, Winter 2017)
my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
after we got jobs.
(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2017)
If I had musical talent
I wouldn’t write poems.
There’s no need
to lie. I couldn’t bring myself to try
when my parents thought
it’d be a good idea for me
to take piano lessons.
I had Game Boy eyes
and the Final Fantasy theme on repeat.
My dad had already explained
the difference between basin wrench
and torque. Wasted an afternoon
taping leaking pipes.
Like many of his time
he knew plumbing, mechanics,
then brought me into rooms with broken
machines. My mind was Mickey Mouse
spelling words and song,
not the kind to vivisect
a bird to learn the function.
All I knew were not even stories yet
and still my hands
sing few callouses.
(originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Spring 2018)
was the memory–
booming in bloom
With mist lifting
off Lake Dardanelle,
what it means
to be new–
so young was the fog
the mind’s cleaver sliced.
(originally published in The Quiet Letter, Summer 2017)
I used to find joy in little things.
Like luck on the head
of a penny.
Or a tire chained
to a blue wall
in the subway.
Or two bullets,
Or your glance
on long drives
beside the ocean.
I feel ill. I declare this heaven’s day.
No fool was a folk legend tragedy.
No fool a fish on a hook
reeled from the lake.
Tomorrow my hand leaves
Your name, claws
on the four-drink ignition.
White rose– consider
a wing. Next, a thumb.
Voices, skies so blue…
I’d find your eyes play music.
(originally published in Eunoia Review, Winter 2017)
After you invited me to your brother’s jazz
concert you said you liked me too much
and I couldn’t handle that, the thought
of our togethered trombone slide into an infinity
accompanied by spacetime’s deep sound.
I avoided you the only way I knew how:
my absence for your words a dangling CO2.
This, another failed online dating experience,
a week and (it was electric for a time) the zap
of each other in a cold January condo over and
over, a thousand volts then whole note rest,
a singed week’s limb removed by blizzard wind.
(originally published in Postcard Poems and Prose, 2017)
The last time I lost someone was autumn.
The leaves were auburn.
My nose, clogged with symbols,
blew wind into tissue into bin.
became broken fingers–
piles of laundry across the bed.
The city needed new clothes to wear.
(originally published in OVS Magazine, 2017)
I want to fold the dog
into an origami pipe
and forget this
was ever a dog
later I will want
this dog nestled
next to me
out the cold
I can’t shake
but for what
(originally published in Succor, 2017)
On one of our nightly walks
of less and less talk,
gunshots punctuate the air,
puncturing our silence.
I hold my palms over your ears
when an ambulance passes us,
its siren shrieking into our void,
lights turning us red
like there’s any lust left.
(originally published in The Blotter Magazine, Summer 2017)
(originally published in After the Pause, Fall 2017)