Let’s Make a Deal

At a McDonald’s in Ohio the TV
plays Let’s Make a Deal & two
old white men are enraptured mouths
open in awe of the studio energy
around Wayne Brady & I
know he’s happy but the audience
is fake I was paid to be
fake in L.A. forty dollars cash is all
it takes for one to clap clap
mid-clap three hours palms
burn & lucky luck even those
who somehow chosen sneak
onto stage know they did
not bring the green glittering
top hat they’re told to wear & now
their hair holds dead rabbits
the producers keep killing
& we’re laughing it’s funny
they tell us & when I was on
the show they asked me to whoop
my gutted-fish stomach out
& of course I yelled the wrong
numbers in the game & brand-
new sedans were revealed
as what I could have had
had I said six instead of
seven & then collected my
forty in line alongside everyone
returning loopy props to
props I know my mom is proud she
shows me & my colorful howling
crowd to happy rooms years
after the date I’m biting into
McNuggets with gold teeth
& cavities

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018)

I’m Coming Home

I was at Pink’s Hot Dogs
on the set of a reality show
working as an extra
when LeBron announced
his return to the Cavaliers.
I read the article repeatedly
on my sun-tinted phone screen,
each word
its own small gospel.

In my Ford in the evening,
I sat in the Ralphs parking lot
wondering if LeBron
can come home, why can’t I?

Then I reasoned
Akron’s prodigal son’s return
means more to a city
who does not know who I am
than I mean to a city
who does not know who I am

and until my name
is plastered on blue
signs welcoming weary travelers
The Birthplace of the Poet
then why can’t I
is the relationship
of an alignment
of some celestial sneeze
into a birthplace of stars

or the bloodline
between who you were
where you grew up
and who you still can become

 

(originally published in RAW Journal of Arts, Spring 2018)

Amy, 2014

I remember pink tongues of vodka became the Pacific
and we’d drown the breeze, water at our feet,
and keep lapping the glass bottle, lips on plastic cup,
swig after hazel-eyed swig, watching hang-gliders
soar inevitably to land, like us, at some black-and-
sand conclusion meaning one of us was wrong, one
of us always mouthing the wrong words into wind,
wisps of brown hair meandering to the air, ocean
blues fading peripherally into drink to swallow
the burning, your dimples creased up, unable
to look in your eyes to lie about love anymore.
This is what I remember of your face.

 

(originally published in Furtive Dalliance, Winter 2018)

West Covina Cormorant

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)

Leaving California

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)

Horoscope – May 13, 2017

Expect your love life
to take a dramatic turn
for the better, Taurus.

Consider power steering:
without it, those daunting
curves down the Pacific Coast

can lead to rock wall
or fence or ocean.
When you drove to Philadelphia

without power steering
for the Black Swan premiere,
you didn’t trust your friends

to steer your Taurus. When
you sold it, the red-faced
salesman strained a sweat

steering it mere meters
into wide-open lot.
He asked how do you drive

this dangerous piece of shit?
You answered I am more self-
confident than I have been

in a long time. Today, you
charged down the staircase
wearing a pink polo your

romantic partner said she
wanted to punch you in
the face for. It’s no wonder

she reacts to you
in a positive way when you
change. Make the most of this

opportunity. Walk dirt
roads drunk on Hennessy
with the movement of stars.

 

(originally published in Construction, Spring 2018)

After Months of Living in My Ford Fiesta

sun & guitar strumming through space giving
breathing life-music concertos into me the grass

the G-minor wind the black garbage bags
I have picked out only a few t-shirts to wear

this year or any year could be the lifespan
of the universe or an endless pot of coffee

all my pants in the trunk I have driven
the cavernous columns of west U.S.A. today

& yesterday & tomorrow is my bent mind u-turn
steering wheel a strained muscular twist & cat-tongue

rubber consuming thoughts which are broke &
banked & rivulets of rust & cash the downstream

trend of my feral gasoline-fueled dreams

(originally published in Treehouse: An Exhibition of the Arts, Winter 2018)

Young

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
for free!

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)