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)

Athens, Ohio

The city was dead when we went
so we intended to fill ourselves
with black magic found
in skeletons on the street.

Look how roots of fallen
trees meld with earth.
Go where lines still meander
on your palms–

we did not share with ghosts
when we reached the end,
no words whispered into steam
of dim lights and Darjeeling,

no further graffiti for your blue
telescope eyes peering through time
to the origin of your cosmos, when
your essence poured from your sleeves

but carried less starlight than it does now.

 

(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)

East Through California

I argue with the music in my car again
those rock’n’roll pots and pans clanging
in the soup kitchen of my imagination
the Steel Reserve of my rumba rumblin’
stomach unfilled from Maruchan ramen

really I’m running from anything but home:
in the apartment of my car the desert’s
a sandstorm of faulty A/C and mountains
obscuring the view of my future and
there’s nowhere else to go but here

 

(originally published in Outcast Poetry, Spring 2017)

To Never Return to L.A.

I hiked through the backwoods of Yellowstone
wondering why my life did not change
with every step. That beauty could
become so manufactured. Looking over
another massive canyon– my third in the west
in three days– what’s so good about it?

You could fall into adventure, sure.
You can fall into anything.
Love, of course. Art.
Self-loathing.
Escape.

I drove aimlessly for three months,
watched landscapes lose their painted strokes.
The bristled edge of sky inside me turned
and dried, brought me back to deserts I camped in

on the side of the road many freezing nights,
my breath the hot air on windshield,

blocking my sight of stars,
those lost things guiding me
that smog made me forget.

 

(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Summer 2017)

The Suburban Wild

In darkness we find a train:
engine active, body inert.
We walk the adjacent rail’s
delineated steel, waiting for a sign.
A spotlight from the city’s purple heart
shoots starward into clear, and the train
barks at something we cannot hear.
We scamper through the brush,
our clothes and hair full of sticks–
strays rising into the cold shadow
of a home, on the hunt
for what will make us whole.

 

(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Winter 2017)

Utah Sandstone

I run from exceptional red.
Distance. Majestic arches. Loop-
de-loop of common want. Canyons,
or peace of mind. Say Zen. Say
Zion. Watch as wind-up forests
spiral from sand. Leaves whisper
to their coming branches in the vacant
hinge of a song. Don’t they
still reach for you. The lonely hoodoos
eroded in failed embrace. Treble clef,
or trouble. No beats for the metered dream.

 

(originally published in Turk’s Head Review – October 2015)