Mortality as First Date

The chairs we sit in are steel
horses, sad and dead. What you said
at the gallery in the warehouse was
to you, I have only given death and cookies.
Or corpses confused with candy.
Your cheeks puff, withdraw.
You’re silver in ceramic.
If I were a romantic I’d say
you belong in the painting.
Longing, always. But I am
a romantic. When we strolled
the botanical gardens we found longing
in the plants deemed poisonous.
How close I get to each sweet thing.
How close each is to death.

(originally published in Pif Magazine, 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)

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)

Night Train in Wait

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)

My First Conversation with Anna

was on a stump under a wooden bridge
that led nowhere. You said I am a fence

wanting pink clouds. We walked the tumorous hill.
You brought up your depression. The green

was infinite and quiet and a silence of oaks.
It was cold and snowing when I was naked

in the dirt digging with my hands with the other naked people.
We did not know what we were looking for. It was the first day

of winter and our legs burned from the chill. I said,
tell me everything you’ve ever known to be true.

You said nothing. But I make videos and we can record
our legs for twenty minutes– just the motion is enough

to nourish us. Hairy legs, hairless legs, left leg, right leg
walking upward to the nearest star– we carved a path

but it was our galaxy led us believe we could wind
and weave through sporadic trees called parks / art

exhibitions and we have these trees
on leashes trying to be trees

and if only we could look at them
and notice our leaves the same

we are so ill with them so malignant
and stuck and if we layer with them

into them if we could grow with them
we would bloom forever in ourselves

and then what would we have to talk about?

 

(originally published in mannequin haus, Summer 2016)

Skeletons of New Year’s Eve

I do not perceive you as obsessed with death
even if, days before, our jovial talks of dying

led to sugar-frosted blue wondering at the sky.
We planned to pop champagne for the birth

of feeling alive: winter hardens soil so we must dig
to the laughter we share in our spines.

We did not drink white wine, but the beer was breath
without knowing the scent– like any year,

we were paintings of light and dark, of limb
and bone so disordered to stand is a triumph,

and hope is a kaleidoscope, a conjecture.
Each dying wave returns, even at the frayed edge

of memory, how the dead are lavish with flowers
and stories. Still, we press on to uncork

our champagne future: drafts of breath in each
new year, dead waves haunting the mortal tide

with no specific beginning, no obvious end.

 

(originally published in Liquid Imagination, Summer 2016)

Alley Walk Into the Dark Park

ambled through snow to my bowl of ice

my calloused tongue on her cold
the bowl’s organ

shriveled
I was a white door
textured and crumbling
in that manticorean dumpster

buds of teeth and name
the mane
where that doorknob would have been

the park on a picnic
her triangular table limbs

white oaks unhinged

the thunderstorm
and her cold drooping javelin wings

 

(originally published in Peculiar Mormyrid)