these angled wings of black toxic piranha
triangles and sometimes yellow is diode
connecting spark to sky– open your mouth
raw fish skin and wet I will wait for something
new in the feathers of ripped jeans and we will
sigh about the weather the snow and cold want
of July’s salamander tanktop days and reproduce
downriver toward industrial cities of light
and tall structures of billowing ominous smoke
(originally published in The Wayfarer, 2018)
I deliberated when traveling the country
because there was no one anywhere waiting,
no one on either coast with arms open wide to hold
me in their jacket in an ocean breeze– no, grime
rocked from screen to shade. The tide of film
frothed over tours viewing Santa Monica
for the first time as if, as they had hoped,
there was something new to see.
(originally published in streetcake, Winter 2018)
I can tell you how many points LeBron scored last night
or who won the World Series,
but I can’t fix the leaking faucet in the bathroom,
won’t mow the lawn if not overgrown.
I don’t change the oil in my Ford
nor bring home a solid paycheck–
but I will live in an apartment
to avoid responsibility.
I’ll pay lots of money to tell
a landlord I can’t do it.
I’ve already lived in a car to avoid the responsibility
of telling a landlord I can’t do it.
I didn’t know how to fix it when it broke down,
and a Samaritan changed my flat tire when I burst it
when turning into a potholed Burger King lot
and I claimed I was about to fix it.
He told me not to pay more than twenty-five dollars for a used tire–
no more than twenty-five dollars, and get the rim hammered out
I went to the tire shop and paid their thirty-five to avoid conflict.
Wordlessly they stopped eastbound traffic on Pico
and I backed away and left.
One thing I can do well is parallel park,
as if reverse-navigation is worth bragging about
but I’ll take it.
No one has the courage to fit inside this small space.
No one can fit inside here but me
(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)
hang a horse
watch her body pale
I want a California girl
skin smooth as shale
my gallop from
(originally published in The Blotter Magazine, Summer 2017)
Sitting in the kitchen
of my childhood home,
longing to be home,
I know I’ve lost another
one, another in a string
of partners, balloons of
many colors floating to
some high-up place
where I thought
we both would be
(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)
We spent the entirety
of our days together.
Now, the vacation from myself
There is a void beside me
unexplainable in the absence
No one here will keep me
whole. Digging into darkness,
film, facebook, what’s real, what’s imagined,
why does it matter?
I want to caress your stomach in the sun
and know everything is okay.
(originally published in #thesideshow, Spring 2017)
the songbook is full
of songs left to sing
we didn’t wait long to end
the song present in the now
unwrapped from the box
where we sang tenuous tones
(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Winter 2017)
The days when we would lay
on blue towels by the beach
combing through our Merriam-Webster
holding every fascinating word by the stems in our mouths,
our vibrancy was inseparable from gardens
full of hyacinths and rhododendron and zinnias
and, yes, forsythias, all these flowers in our hometowns
we never knew the names of
until we saw the words on sand-shorn pages,
said the names out loud, grasped endlessly
for petals in each other. No, we bloomed
laughter from our throats, planted seeds
into pits where absence grows in ensuing Aprils.
We never knew what words might appear
on Scrabble nights hunched over grids of possibility and–
strings of letters string surprising words together.
Marionettes, spider webs, violins, shoelaces,
your hair among the rules of nature, and nurture,
here nurturing the garden, here the home
where we tend other flowers– all my love,
I repeated. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia.
But those beach days were distant, the tide slurring
softly alongside my returns from long unexplainable workdays–
all my love, I repeated. For Cynthia.
Wooden tiles tornadoed to the floor, slapping
the carpet with words we had not invented yet–
there is no remedy for lost trust. The flame
already sleeps in the bed of the mouth.
Cynthia, Cynthia. I did not know a Cynthia–
but I had never been able to name a forsythia
in the wild. The next time I see one
will feel like cheating. Nothing too-known is magical–
there is wonder in inventing nomenclature,
that a word like forsythia can only be made
in moments like anesthesia, with darkness descending
like the cigarette clouds of a severe storm when, in the drift
into a new consciousness, a lilac floats your mind’s pond–
a lilac, maybe, though that’s not what you want,
and maybe, in the distance, you see the blossoming
yellow that accompanies spring, the air golden around it–
the beauty that’s grander than words.
You wish you never learned the name for it.
(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2017)
In memory of Chris Hull
wait for rainy days
there is never
in the weather
the sun laughs
as it always does
when I receive the call
I find the nearest tree
to brace myself
it’s the only darkness
approaching the hospital
still takes her living
at being alive
(originally published in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spring 2017)
In darkness I will squeeze
to keep my hold on you.
In light I will bottle
the glint from your eyes.
I will keep it
in my pocket
and know the warmth
Over time it will become sand:
an hourglass in which will keep
the deep, ancient secret of the ocean:
love has no boundaries which cannot be breathed
(originally published in White Ash Literary Magazine)