Headshots, 2013

Unrecognizable? I’m
the same bag of slime
swimming the freshwater
of time, but with a pinch
of salt. How to see
yourself without looking
through the mirror: the need.
Saturation. Angled flesh, aged
and tilted. The monotonous
color of landscapes. The same
itch, the same nose. These
days I photograph my cat.

 

(originally published in The Wire’s Dream, 2018)

Overlooking the Ravine

you practice the scorpion on your back porch
while your cat wanders about like she has
somewhere to go and we don’t

you stretch the sky darkens and fireflies
illuminate the fence the cat wants to scale
I ask what of your qualities you see in her
you say she’s an affectionate asshole

I drink another of your beers we have
talked for weeks about how I never
seem comfortable anywhere I go with anyone

you don’t think I’m a vine that has found
its wall to climb even cats want walls
they know their limits I’m not sure what mine are
how high or should I even try

then what?

 

(originally published in Roanoke Review, Spring 2018)

To Sara (From Kingsford)

I scratch at doors because I hear a creature
moving in some box I have yet to lick.
Cardboard has the faint taste of forest, of hungry
bark. I have never ventured deep but the deep
knows my name, and when alone its voice
is sometimes distant but so heavy, I claw
the door’s painted wood until the woodlands stop
speaking, or someone lets me free. I explore dark
spaces and in this home I look for monsters
to flee– I run from shadows, sprinting through
the wilds of rooms wanting a chase to give
my motion meaning. Don’t get me wrong.
I’m grateful; I’m safe; I’m running from myself:
I’ve loved like vacancies in the clothes hanging
in closets. And loved like in your arms, eyes closed,
no more dark but in searching for the predator
to emerge in you– but on your bed, in this room,
in this home– there is only breathing and calm
I can’t sense in that outside world of creaking
and footsteps, of clouds rolling into thunder,
of multitudes of other things
I trust far less than you.

 

(originally published in York Literary Review, Spring 2017)

To Emily (From Angel)

To run away would prove
the wild still within me,

taming that short fence with my claws
to catapult into the trees where birds

and squirrels and spiders sleep alone.
I look starward when you lure me

out among the sparrows. I am no monster
who lurks in twilight, but sometimes

exist memories I never made, when cool air
rushes into me through the window screen

like the moon commanding the tide–

I am not fully water but, like you, an animal embedded
with her feral past– my sisters teach me to hunt,

mice dangling from their mouths that haunt afternoon naps
on your heavy bed– my beautiful sisters never knowing

how it feels to be a princess, gold and pink
tiaras glistening between their royal ears.

I would not belong in those sprawling
forests from my dreams. The hunger

from the wild’s lack of you
would tremble my true heart home

under starlight’s navigation– to here,
where my whiskers graze your calves,

where I am cradled in your arms
in the company of heartbeat:

a sweetness, a tenderness
the feral could never dream of.

 

(Originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)