Maggie

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)

Warmth

I want to fold the dog
into an origami pipe
smoke it
and forget this
was ever a dog

later I will want
this dog nestled
next to me
asleep
fire lingering

instead I
fold creases
into blanket
wrapping
out the cold

I can’t shake
but for what
it takes
to sleep
through dawn

 

(originally published in Succor, 2017)

A Date with Doubt

You look around the room
and rate singles from one to ten
in terms of melancholy
but don’t know
how to rate yourself–
Pacific waves flow through
you almost drown
in the sea of your thoughts–
the scisms between pen and mirror,
heart and mind, these are thieves
who will lie to you ‘til the Greyhound
leaves for Cincinnati at 11:30.
Until then we watch superheroes do bad
stand-up comedy in the conference room
at the new Mikey’s, eating mushroom pizza
with too-hot sauce. Bass pounds from the stage
so loudly we walk to 16-Bit next door
to drink water and pretend we are drunk,
our mouths rocketships exploring the universe
of each other– the rotation of stars
confused with physics. In the end all you want
is chocolate cake. Your blue eyes curve away
in that soaring flyball-to-left way. The way
you sway me back to simpler times
when buying CDs was a holy act
of personal preference
and I stayed sealed on a shelf in plastic,
waiting to give the world my music.

 

(originally published in Zingara Poetry Picks, Summer 2017)

An Oncoming Train

We waddled over grates along train tracks
on a bridge above the river until a trembling
warned of what would come: soon, one of us
will leave the other. Running to safety in flip-
flops, it would not matter how it felt when
we held each other after stumbling off rail into
field because you said you finally found a thing
I’m scared of: the in-between of tracks. Heart
beating odds with brain. As the train passed,
horns blaring, you spoke something I could not
hear when we hugged as each car blurred forward
until we became a quiver, a silence, a kiss of
faded smoke dragging steel beyond the hills.

 

(originally published in Four Ties Lit Review, Fall 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)

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)

Polyamory

we walk parched lips from downtown
to the jazz & rib fest you tell me
you love too many at once

I count the number I love at the moment
but we lose track of headlights
following the other’s every move

neither of us know how to get there
how to make music & when we arrive
jazz is faint & we don’t listen to sporadic notes

choosing to walk the bridge over the river
under spotlights of webs of moths
between railings & you say insects

are the most important creatures alive
the more of something there is the better
all these millions of arachnids spinning

webs to eat the hearts of bugs they always catch
we stand away from the railing because we
don’t want spiders to creep onto us & start

the work of eating through skin to dig to heart
we don’t look at each other because
you can be in love with so many at once

but not the ones who want it most

 

(originally published in Edison Literary Review, Summer 2017)