Your Teeth, My Teeth

clatter. chew
through apples (nothing).

half a meal, half a pine,
half of what we hoped for,
if.

the way a core reveals itself inedible,
though we knew.

from day one, bites
and bites.

sometimes the juice sweetness
overpowers slow rot.

it was early on, and worms
had yet to emerge from their holes
in the ground to greet us.

all we had to do
was wait for rain.

 

(originally published in First Literary Review – East, Winter 2018)

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Two Nightmares in My Car on Rosewood

I.

A shadow figure outside the Ford’s locked door.
He jiggles the handle
hey can you drive me to Santa Clarita
I said no I have been drinking whiskey
which was a lie
he said let me in
I did not

II.

When I wake for a walk in the middle of the night,
clothes bunched on red benches under streetlights
like someone had been there
and disappeared

III.

I call my ex
I can’t stop thinking about you

shadows float from her eyes
into mine

cigarette smoke

bats

understand: we lived
in the cave of each other

IV.

under orange streetlights

blankets hang from headrests
to drape me from the world

 

(originally published in The Nottingham Review, Fall 2017)

Caterpillars

I watched us turn into centipedes,
not butterflies– tiny legs to run
pushed out of us, not wings.
In half-moon light we crawled
the hollow ridges of our bodies.
Someday, we thought. Children.
But it was true: neither of us knew
how to bloom. We kept scratching
at the other’s skin digging
for the beating heart
but only exposed the blood.

 

(originally published in The Quiet Letter, Summer 2017)

My Smartphone’s Fingerprint Sensor Cannot Detect Me

Do not forget me:
I have struggled to break
through my own absence
of field. Let a helium balloon
float to where it disappears.
We have not spoken
in years. The phone you gave
me I replaced to return
my sense of self-place. Still,
send me a signal you sense me,
and we will come to static
where we cannot hear
how we wish to be heard
but we will know
we are there.

 

(originally published in CultureCult Magazine, 2017)

Syzygy

We collected enough spacedust
to build a story, and so began
ours. I sought ways to learn
you: almanacs, online astronomy
classes, science fiction novels.
You were a constellation
to call my own. Time wore
on, and light from an ex-lover
reached you. Your position
in the sky changed. You
moved no closer. I bought
a telescope you admired
for awhile. Said you liked
the way I looked at you. Here
I thought I was the only one
you gleamed for. I asked
for your coordinates. You said
no matter where you went,
you would always be brighter
by the other star.

 

(originally published in Halfway Down the Stairs, Summer 2017)

Space Junk

After the breakup, our phone conversations
become space debris, steel pieces hardly
discernible hurtling haphazardly at five miles

per second. Where do the scraps go?
The gold taste of summer will impact the brain
and puncture, enflame. We wish to assist

the start-ups who seek to construct
machines to eliminate wayward spares
of satellites trapped in the gravity of a body,

propel its dust into the atmosphere to burn.
We drift wary of small artifacts
from failed missions to emerge

in the distance of night to strike
and make split into fragments
we will never assemble again.

 

(originally published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, Spring 2017)

Symbolism for a Millennial Breakup

I cracked my phone screen
on my first date without you.

I carried it in my back pocket, like always,
though maybe I postured myself differently,

finally sitting up straight enough
to carry my own weight.

I didn’t look at my phone
until after the date. By then,

I could no longer remember you
without the shattered glass–

the flawless screen was not made
from our blazing beach days

of black seaweed and slithering kites
that begged the wind to let go,

where footsteps parted sand
to lead the tide into ourselves,

to let the moon drag our bodies
into the ocean’s boundless mirrors

where, enveloped in reflections,
we could only gasp for air.

 

(originally published in Metonym, Fall 2017)

Small Fires

My throat charred as I said it– you
across that barbed-wire table in sunshine
blinding me with reflected sun with your
sunglasses. I knew we were made of darkness
because the tears would not come. I do not need
to get over you, only to jump missing-you hurdles
but I quit track after a week of running in high school
with cramped legs, sunburn, shortness of breath.
I practiced breathing into trombones and trumpets
trying to make meaning without knowing the
names of anyone I loved or would love but
music burns and the orchestra still bleats
full sound into my ears while my lungs
blacken from cigarettes, and all I can do
is watch smoke from my mouth rise
into blue, become the new cloud
I loved too much, too soon.

 

(originally published in Writing Knights Grand Tournament V Anthology, Summer 2016)

Resurrection

in dark crowds I look for your shadow
along the perimeter of park grass wet

my beer churns from belly-up to forget
seeing you again but for now loud thumps

and guitar squeals glow from every beacon
the way one holds to hope just long enough

to make it religious communion in every
plastic cup bought from jazz-blue tokens

I wait for resurrection every turn of head
with you wandering some sidewalk

I walked earlier how you materialize just
the body returning to remind me I cannot

wait any longer to be rid of wanting to walk
in circles until I cannot know any better

if you were ever even real at all

 

(originally published in Chantwood Magazine, Spring 2017)