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)

I’m Fine

I’m with Lex at Lockview
ordering tomato soup because
I just got out of a relationship.

I tell him I’m fine, though he never asked.
The bowl arrives alongside my Kentucky Bourbon
Barrel Ale. I slurp red and talk loudly

for the cute girl at the table behind me
wearing all black– we made eye contact
waiting for tables between entrance and exit–

she doesn’t hear me, probably,
but my friend watches me cremate crackers
over the bowl to spoon the goo inside.

He says slow down but I say life moves
fast– hell, I ingested magic mushrooms
after leaving my ex’s place then Lex

asks our waitress for his grilled cheese
without mushrooms and the waitress asks for menus
but I hand her my bowl and say take it please

take it then tell her I’m fine and it was wonderful
being in my house alone after this happened standing
on the kitchen table beside the silver chandelier

lined with black mold and dirt and how
I waited for anyone to come home
and no one did so I kept standing.

 

(originally published in OVS Magazine, 2017)

Excessive Drinking

I am a sun-drenched willow field withered and
purple. Headache remiss, wonder when the liver
will churn its nightly clarion call, squeezing rags
to drag the water out.

Sometimes the nights are like that in the silence
between friends. The drafts replace talking.
You can’t hear the words with breath so still
and distant, willows soon awakening.

 

(originally published in Transcendence Magazine, Summer 2016)

Two Guys, Two Gallons of Yuengling, Two Plastic Jugs

Tongues composed of lager and slathered words drip
turbulence from the roadmaps of mouths, the ocean’s
rock and regurgitation. We meandered along brick-paved
roads with half-amber jugs in our hands, how quickly
we drown but how slowly we swayed on swings
in the frigid, desolate playground at night by the highway,
eyes entranced by the spotlight from the city’s hidden heart
we desire but never find but in the beer’s flat hops like a pair
of clumsy trombonists, asynchronous staccatos and B-flat
scales bottling air from silver mouthpiece to S.O.S–

 

(originally published in Cacti Fur, Summer 2016)

Drunken Rambling from the Coast

A former friend said to me, I’m jealous of your whimsical life.
I haven’t stopped drinking since I was in a hotel room
with his wife, my feet kneading red, chalklike carpet,
their honeymoon’s pall a dim, amber light. She said

you need Vitamin D, Sunshine. I made a habit
of overdosing on the sun. Tell me again what I need.
I had yet to unpeel friendship’s pear with my lips–
and sink. I danced with her months before

at The Viper Room, my shirt half-clipped. I could not stop
thinking about how we might fit under the drunken moon:
her candles the flares in a darkening room, wax trickling
with no end, the rose-like incense rotting the room…

I read an article claiming that remembering
a memory is like saving a JPEG–
each time you remember, the image pixelates
a little more until it blurs beyond recognition.

It was dark when it happened. We were drinking.
Streetlights cast orange bars on the bed through
window blinds while we slipped hungrily
from existence. Her face was a spade

but we felt like the garden, digging deeply
into ourselves until we became an open cemetery.

***

I drink screwdrivers to feel the acid on my tongue,
feeling better since fleeing to the bay’s foggy shores.
I make stops to study the water at each chilly beach,
every heave of the tide as clear as the last–

and as frenzied– her arm reaches into the sand
closer and closer to pull me in, have one last good look
at me to ensure I disappear, if I’m not already gone.
I have my flask. The sunset. Miles of winding road.

Memories to fade, to make, to fade.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse, Spring 2016)

Runner

You always have to run.

Short North to downtown,
city to city, Indiana

to Tennessee–
one shoe on gravel,

the other careening
through time and space

into a green
where you are unknown

and your running shoes are empty
at our red swing’s feet.

I know you never run to leave,
driving your horizon eyes

miles to sun– and you, after its setting,
glide beside each highway’s unlit rivers

on the bridge of the median, drunk
from driving so long under moon,

far from where our empty bottles
collect in a skyward infinity,

a mountain of clinking memories–
a marathon, a gap traversed quickly.

(originally published in VerseWrights)