The Christmases That Were Forever

my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
after we got jobs.

 

(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2017)

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Meditation on Muscle Memory

If I had musical talent
I wouldn’t write poems.

Guitar-grown fingernails.
Nimble strings.

There’s no need
to lie. I couldn’t bring myself to try

when my parents thought
it’d be a good idea for me
to take piano lessons.

I had Game Boy eyes
and the Final Fantasy theme on repeat.

My dad had already explained
the difference between basin wrench

and torque. Wasted an afternoon
taping leaking pipes.

Like many of his time
he knew plumbing, mechanics,
home improvement

then brought me into rooms with broken
machines. My mind was Mickey Mouse
spelling words and song,

not the kind to vivisect
a bird to learn the function.

All I knew were not even stories yet
and still my hands
sing few callouses.

 

(originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Spring 2018)

SpaghettiOs

The bowl is where
the howls come from–
OoOoOoOoO!
A broken-record werewolf
in this microwave-boiled,
tomato-red September.
I have been trying to form
the words to say to you
with only a vowel.
When you left
for some knockoff white-hat,
greasy Chef Boyardee
I went to the zoo
to study manatees,
but they, too, are a migratory
species. I saw the first of its kind
take on a mangrove but emerge
fish-in-mouth. She floated to her
friend or brother or lover
and squealed syllables
until the other swam away.
I guess no one communicates
with each other the proper way
anymore. All these sounds
these OOOs and Os
processed uneaten

 

(originally published in The Oddville Press, Spring 2018)

Max’s Porch

we’re on a playground of mosquitos
finding poems about space and math
to read because his brother’s in town
and he’s an idealistic futurist
so they trade science poems
and smoke and dreams (a glass
of water the tides of Lake Erie)
I ask which Little Caesar’s location
is your favorite all time (five dollar
orange brown cardboard. gas
station lighters burning thumbs)
everyone answers the one in my hometown
and we’re 1997 sitting in a mildew basement
sketching cartoons in blue binders on greasy
carpets full of the future waiting for the future
and mallards in the pond sing all wing and trouble
hoping for something to disturb the water
so they can fly

 

(originally published in Pouch)

Future Men

boys who would be future men 
squealed at new Pokemon.
mimicked moves, karate'd birds

flapping and winging and flinging
     OVER NINE THOUSAND!
miles per hour

and things
eight-dollar K-B Toys 
always break 

blue mega man 
onto metal bunk
bed swung 
                              CLANKCLUNK

sprints'a from kitchen, lotsa surge, 
hi-ye-ho bullet train 
                              small-scale rail

    the basement 
       digging
digging through purple bin
     TREASURE! TREASURE!

homemade pogs; on one side 
the cut-out cartoons 
from game manuals, Zero so cool
his long blonde hair, red armor
give me his sword no 
          it's mine 
          x-buster
    circular cutting 
rise to heroes controlled  
  control was so easy

yes, yes, think of life–
death in digital terms

those boys were the masters then

    the future men and their
    cold basement summers


(originally published in Suburban Diaspora)