Overlooking the Ravine

you practice the scorpion on your back porch
while your cat wanders about like she has
somewhere to go and we don’t

you stretch the sky darkens and fireflies
illuminate the fence the cat wants to scale
I ask what of your qualities you see in her
you say she’s an affectionate asshole

I drink another of your beers we have
talked for weeks about how I never
seem comfortable anywhere I go with anyone

you don’t think I’m a vine that has found
its wall to climb even cats want walls
they know their limits I’m not sure what mine are
how high or should I even try

then what?

 

(originally published in Roanoke Review, Spring 2018)

I Forgot I Was Drinking

beer half past noon listening reading
to sam sax’s on alcohol poem

after the final line in one hand
a bottle to my lips my body a future
compromised

i promised mom i’d outlive her
& it’s going well so far

but these low-hanging clouds
are moving fast and there are drips
of sky becoming foggier

sara says we shouldn’t have drank last night
a monday
but the beers at woodlands are bargain $2 drafts

o genie whisk me to an open field
with flask construct a crumbling house
at the center where i lay drooling the day’s
indiscretions

my mouth a volcano
concrete spat into my palms

the heaviness of me
drops

 

(originally published in Flypaper Magazine, Winter 2018)

Dead Whale

Upon the gum’s shore,
a body beaches–
abscessed tooth of
sand.

How the mouth learns
to chew
diamonds–
the glint
of blood.

Soon, this is ritual.

Don’t confess
your ailing–
let bleed from morning
into next.

The dentist says
don’t drink– so
consume the ocean
of the night
and float
yourself to sea.

 

(originally published in former People, Winter 2018)

Earth Angel

microphone in hand
                                        the gutter of volumetric gain

to finally sing gin (out of the system
                                                                         sky an ocean of lights)

the star made of you-matter: gold voice hot collision
where bar’s empty souls listening clink glasses

                            then rise in song to celebrate your living

Getting Sober

If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

 

(originally published in Rattle, Winter 2018 – nominated for Best of the Net)

Dry Lips

the stream
       parched

the heart
       lips

the lung
       lips

the light
       dark

the night
       parched

the night
       lips

the lung
      dark

the stream
      heart

the lips
      heart

the heart
      always

      parched

(originally published in Off the Coast, Fall 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)

Franklin Avenue in 2015

Two years ago, we would drink tall beers
hidden in black, plastic bags ’til we passed
from laughter, fluttered to fill
our glasses with more.

There would have been more pages
to turn, but none of us spoke our
human language anymore.

Now, a browned frond slumps
between parked cars.

Two teenagers flirt
underneath a palm. Whispered leaves
are fragile– each movement
a link to the next
until it is not.

Their laughs reverberate
when they, too, part. Uncork
those swan bottles–
let them go, graceful
into night.

 

(Originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)