Ephemeral Garden

The map leads from bloom to wing
to sky– we followed gracefully before
black swan wings haunted our spines.

I was tangled in the garden of words
and you did not believe a thing
I said. I cowered in sagebrush

to study flying squirrels (the wingless
claim the sky). I told you I would never tell
another lie because what is truth

in an ephemeral garden, where the birdsong
of thrashers becomes language?
I attempt to look away from truth

but the truth is, nothing in this world
shocks me any more than when I crane my head
to see the nightmare we have become.

 

(originally published in Zany Zygote Review, Spring 2017)

Following a Trip to the L.A. Zoo

wear sunscreen you’ll thank me faster

do not come to me bearing ailments

it was just yesterday gifts of topaz and corundum your ring-fingers will dance will light over penny slot screens aplomb

some shared jackpot of drunkenness

or worse

sparks from fireflies in the Georgia summer floating flickering stars lightly humming

when a hum turns into a birdcall we whistle like sparrows on a branch

twigs in our talons we offer to the other

twinkle of the moon through the swaying branches above

voices like an owl-song who

are we to hover over the other’s hopes who

will pinch us find we are composed of feathers too raggedy to summon the strength

fingers meekly bristle against your cheek soft as the whirring of the window fan we drift to sleep

so California is the drought I cannot feel it devoid of breathing like a sandstorm

California someday drifts into the Pacific I am my own island thirsting for wet soil

your cotton-morning taste will itself someday drift

 

 

(originally published by The Virginia Normal)

Meditations on Sleeping in My Car

Paradise is worse than this. I’ve pissed
in the golden streets of Beverly Hills.
The stars depart their private cabs,
shoes on the ground. I’ve pissed in beach sand
with the waterbirds, the full balloon
at sunrise, wind swaying. The neighborhood
has my back. I spit fish fluoride
into grass. Splotches of next-day death
in circles brown and black. Windows fog. Yeah
I’m an airplane in a cloud. Should’ve wrapped that scarf
around my neck until my head fell off. The night is
a broken refrigerator, top shelf. Tell that to the rotting
trunk sushi. Still, some spiders creep through cracks and
keep the feet and urine smells out. Bent to a backseat
sockball and time is an envelope I hand to a stranger.
How his home stinks of sweat and mildew
and old Havarti. Fiona has crank windows
and that new car smell and floating dust.
I can’t spit enough. Blame it on the vermouth.
In the morning, I floss my coal moon fingernails
with flamenco strings. Neighbors run
past but who needs pants.
Say hello to the father and his
baby in the stroller. Say hello
to the fleshy whites. Say
hello to everlasting days
of luxury where the days
don’t end, the nights never
end, again and again
the fishing rod window
cranks, to invited crows–
the feasts of mud– say
hello and wave and caw.

 

(originally published in Prong & Posy, Issue 2)

Pretty Autumn Sunset

Blackbirds suspended in triumvirate.
Clouds in a sea of burnt clay
mold into a blanket, the bed
unmade. Every beautiful sunset,

look:
see the others on their phones
snap photos for strangers,
likers, digital lovers.
Lowball grandeur on a
five-inch screen.

It’s gone in a moment, anyway,
the pixelation of life,
bloated
and trapped
and yours.

Palm trees stand as windmills,
stilled, and they cannot fan
the vertical Culver sign,
risen like held smog.

Headlights on cars move
indistinguishably in time-lapse circles,
one after the other after the other.

 

(originally published in The Literary Commune – Issue #4, April 2015)

Rob Delaney

Hi, I am Rob Delaney.
I am not Rob Delaney

and he would never begin a five-minute set like that,
but before California dangled blackberries
above my granite mouth,

Rob showed us the way and the truth and the life
(John fourteen-six by the score of silent thumbs)

god, twitter fame was the only thing
that could bring us nearer gods we do not believe in

this big bang of a perpetually expanding following
we cannot fully understand

by choice I never listened to robins
conducting high-frequency symphonies

(but I did read Last Call of the Passenger Pigeon
by Daniel A. Hoyt that summer
and could form the parentheses of a whistle
enough to calculate the slow kettle of tea)

my father would sit on a pig stump
(an oak whose life he ended himself)
and watch birds fly the superhighway,
clouds like rush hour in L.A.

like some hippie saint claiming
all that is God
is not man-made

I always thought of bird-watching as a way
for the elderly to augment their loneliness

now all the young men I know
fetishize loneliness in themselves

 

(originally published in LEVELER – Summer 2015)

Clinton, Ohio

Where I lived was a quiet crescendo
of snow six months of the year
& mosquito summers wearing shorts
into the sweating night

Where I lived had piano thunderstorm concertos
jolting the elderly house’s bones
with frenetic fingers, ivory paint,
red bricks

Where I lived was a lonesome walking trail
where morning chirps of blue jays went unnoticed.
Beds of acorns lined the autumn grass,
a kind of fallout for the process of aging
and the act of leaving

Always, now, in thought, it is a shoebox
of dandelions that writhe when I pet the cold cardboard–
hello, you are home, tonsils– my heart
can’t handle the hand-shaped imprints
from so far away

 

(originally published in Rubbertop Review – Volume VII, 2015)