The alley is paved with old bricks
blackened by rain. I used to want
conformity, that tidal hope gripping
your gut. You must have a family soon.
Everywhere babies are sprouting
but garden sprinklers are off because winter
is near, crackled dirt longing for storm–
how long since the rough of gale and rain?
Seasons, in these frigid airs. And my seedling
heart stopped growing soon after its first beat.
(originally published in The Coachella Review, Winter 2017)
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)
The trees are dead, she said.
Peering outside, it was true:
A still-barren sixty degrees, sun
meekly reveling in its new warm.
A week ago, our mother cut down the tree
we picked apples from as children.
They were small, red, never delicious–
brown and burrowed with worms
because anything sweet from the skin
isn’t as sweet as you might think.
All those colorful lights we tied around
the necks of plastic and decoration,
the way we choked the holiday,
wrung out the last ounces of life
from the animal ornaments on every pine.
The walrus with the broken tusk.
The hyena whose laugh can nearly
be heard. As if anthropomorphizing could
ever atone for the past but I would love
to believe in a world where a fragment of
a tusk means something is truly missing–
perhaps rickety laughter ringing through
thin walls, dominant as the wooden organ
moans his mantra: everything in this world
is connected. Not every connected thing
is aware of its living, its connection.
But the way fingers dance deep
resonance out of the organ’s shifty teeth
to provide holiness for the changed house
is the gift we must open for ourselves
with our hands full of music– a sourness
in harmony, an ode to shriveled apples.
(originally published in Flatbush Review, Winter 2016)
the living room drones and mumbles.
the bone dove sings a petrified song
above the tree, nearly silent enough
to believe a resurrection could occur
in the coming days. pass the stocking
with the kidney stone. bring
the anesthetic. we will drink–
this is the blood bond, the calm,
the thin slicing of ham: bloodless
& calm, torn red wrapping paper
strewn about the room
(originally published in Whale Road Review, December 2015)