to cut immigration
is to cut me half
-Filipino I am already
halved quartered diced you take
a knife to my mother she keeps
a knife at her neck we both are
American in the blade of the word
I used to pretend to be more
my more-accepted half
to have to choose
is to have nothing
(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)
a horse runs
on a long treadmill
at first we say this
is not normal
but the horse runs
on the long treadmill
we normalize it
there’s that horse
on the long
(originally published in The Neglected Ratio, Spring 2017)
out of wisdom / out of want / so many / things / to not believe /
whether or not / you or I believe / you will end things / with your boyfriend /
I have seen your tattoos / just the surface / of your skin / understand I /
cannot chase / the gilded raven / with closed wings / I press into /
your hair / black against my mouth / the warmth of your ear /
in the back / of the room / holding /
so laugh quietly / whisper / don’t hold onto / anything /
be far enough away / from intimacy / that it feels like / intimacy /
a secret / a terrible secret / the way our mouths / don’t cling /
to each other’s / my hand / on your leg / your head /
turned away / in the back / of the room / we listen / to words / want to fall /
asleep / with each other / we want to / drift / from reality /
the blinds / and the gathers / Monday rain / fog / rain / I’ll help you / dry /
wielding an umbrella / for both of us / to stand / under / where we can / lie /
to each other / more intimately / watch the whole thing / fall asleep /
as the world / puts her weight / on the black / handle / in my hand /
and drains / with a whisper / into the gutter
(originally published in Birch Gang Review, Winter 2017)
dishes are an exercise in repetition
why do we go through our days so quickly
we must be unhappy with material possessions
how we sustain ourselves
I am amazed I have sustained myself for so long
teenage years of french fries and ice cream
adult years of french fries and frozen pizza
there is nothing that greases my heart
more than eating macaroni and cheese
naked at 2 am
when I am bloodless
pots and pans hang on hooks on the kitchen ceiling
the landlord says our water bill is exorbitant
I think it is extraordinary
the parts of ourselves
we must pay for
steam billows out of the dishwasher
when it is done
we pay for that too
in august we chopped heads off of asparagus
rinsed our hands of the green bits
blue antibacterial bubbled white
champagne bottles cling to the wall
someone please set them free
so we can keep that bent and dying orchid
on our kitchen island
(originally published in Eunoia Review, Autumn 2016)
We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?
Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting
for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you
and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–
with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.
(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)
As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–
my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.
The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,
a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.
For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
long enough and someone will notice. No one
likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear
of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
My shapelessness. My tendency to drift
so far away that I never fully return.
(originally published in Jazz Cigarette, Autumn 2016)
rust– my heart’s jigsaw
exhaust– speaking’s black smoke
skid marks– don’t stop
steppes become sycamores
lakes become deserts
lips– sun-dried song and stale reed
saxophone– barren of sound
you– between the dents
the sun– unforgiving
(originally published in Ghost City Review, Autumn 2016)
Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:
a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows
of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–
we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure
but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber
the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–
where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds
descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.
(originally published in Rust + Moth, Autumn 2016)
Sometimes I say what I don’t mean.
There is an algorithm which can make me forget;
the others remind me to remember.
Your action has been undone. As if my actions
needed a separate undoing– I did not expect you,
with your raven hair, to perch our thousand
miles, thousand days to bottle time
and cast to sea, a folded note to be read
by a stranger at shore. Here, I am a knot
bound to be undone, tethered to a battered shoe,
and in the sprint, wind coarsens your hair.
In the cold we move closer and closer until the breathing
is stale and fogs my car’s windows, the outside world
turned gray. Confusing a fluorescent lightbulb for the moon,
I would risk one more rejection to bring you even nearer,
past the point of no return.
(Originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)