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)
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)
I’ve written the last
I can about you.
No more spirits in this blue-and-gray
jacket with the familiar coffee stain.
Out of poetry and time to spare.
Like December’s brisk spit of snow.
The lack of wonderment.
(originally published in Corvus Review, Fall 2016)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
You learn your plane
has been delayed
You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or
calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know
the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay
stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like
she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when
it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.
(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 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)