Athens, Ohio

The city was dead when we went
so we intended to fill ourselves
with black magic found
in skeletons on the street.

Look how roots of fallen
trees meld with earth.
Go where lines still meander
on your palms–

we did not share with ghosts
when we reached the end,
no words whispered into steam
of dim lights and Darjeeling,

no further graffiti for your blue
telescope eyes peering through time
to the origin of your cosmos, when
your essence poured from your sleeves

but carried less starlight than it does now.

 

(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)

Background Actors

At the foot of the staircase to the stars–
in the back of the line of actors drunken
from delusion (I’m going to make it),
each of us with hands full of hangers,
heads full of the fame
that glimpses a star, a familiar face,
how we chosen ones flicker
on living room screens
of friends and families–
a blip, a blur so brief
we were almost never there at all.

 

(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Winter 2017)

Observations from the Westside Pavilion Bridge

I.

stationary at the couch by the window over the street the cars move unseen beneath me in lines in some complex order that means they don’t crash into each other    the sound of engines is replaced with repetitive 4/4 pop music snare singer pleading for her lover to return but in Los Angeles   who do you return to

II.

locks click from storefront doors a Chinese family appears from behind the off-white pillar the mother in loose pink flowy shirt and dress takes a photo in front of the window her daughter in a white-and-red striped shirt her husband in a blue-and-pink striped shirt so much pink so many binding stripes and the mother captures that lone moment  the sky a tender backdrop

III.

a grandma walks a black stroller and makes a soft kind of train noise shh guh shh guh in syncopated beats as she travels in circles    the rolling sound of the stroller-like luggage in an airport    constant whir    her mouth a muted hi-hat to some imaginary beat on her third pass-by   the baby in pink stirs and she stops her mouth’s percussion and tends to the baby who is quiet but lifts her arm in the air   silhouette to the window of the world    cookies and cream   loose leggings

IV.

a man in his fifties eats macha ice cream alone near Dillard’s   walks in front of a blonde man in a cowboy hat water bottle in hand tying his shoelaces      the ice cream man on the other side of the window underneath the Westside Center sign stares at his reflection     he moves from the window bits of cone now lodged in his graying mustache

V.

the green palms reflected on the speckled cream floor    ripples in a pond blow so gently     outside a man with twenty hands and countless fingers     dances and puppeteers

VI.

two Mexican women with glowing purses hanging on their right shoulder walk in near-unison   one just a half-step ahead until the fast one stops to fix her shoe before walking into Nordstrom glass door squealing open       at its most open it sounds like a bad brake on a car      the other keeps walking

VII.

older man in a reddish shirt has a chocolate cone at 11:45pm   stands on the wide black stripe on the floor in front of the imposing silver pillar that splits in the middle like a buttcrack     he stands    licking staring forward at TVs     that advertise movies now playing in the theaters of his daydreams

VIII.

half of the iPhone billboard outside would be indiscernible    half white space stubs of fingers touching green fabric in a lazy V the space below it a half-globe of nothing   the squeaking of shoes slowly silence the man in blue beneath as he does not even notice I watch as he tucks his manila folder under his left armpit

IX.

mountains are indiscernible from buildings in the distance     curved with specks of white that hint at strange windows or a deepening mist that seem to want to envelop the rest of us    and how do we know it won’t

X.

a faraway pedestrian timidly crosses the intersection illegally   she slows but proceeds   and from my vantage point she crosses to the smell of the soy in the pad see ew that steams in front of me

XI.

the light which hangs above these walls of shades of gray is latticed in spiderweb    I cannot tell if the gentle sway-shaking is imaginary  or earthquake  all these little triangles hovering jittering above me   I wonder if this is how the universe actually moves   or what it truly looks like

XII.

upside-down reflections of walking legs move as the inverse of walking and sway with a sexy air voluminous breeze parting    moving away in a regal but  aimless sashay

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Long Beach

from a high rooftop after rain,
headlights lead their drivers
to safety in a grid of electricity;
slick, mighty towers surround
and glisten from orange streetlights;
the harbor, an unending cascade
of dreams painted
in reflected, rippling stars–

you can hear, from outside the metro,
a shrieking man in an aureolin raincoat,
several hurried severities of shoes
clopping on sidewalks

still I will tell you the city is beautiful
when far enough away to never see
imperfection

and I’ll hold you close,
hands clasping your ears,
our own static to block
distractions which, for the beauty
of this moment, do not matter–

 

(originally published in Random Poem Tree, February 2016)

1st & Delaware

wandered along the avenue to find Kurt
sitting at the mountain of a three-step staircase
don’t come up here he laughed
but the neighborhood spun faster
than the blue room I escaped
so I continued to High along the alleys
of wafting leaked gasoline and nectars
of dried roses this was not spring
but the cold allowed me briskly hack time
in a direction indicating forward
where I pleat the confines of the sidewalk’s
imaginary boundaries I drifted from
but felt motionless and free

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Pretty Autumn Sunset

Blackbirds suspended in triumvirate.
Clouds in a sea of burnt clay
mold into a blanket, the bed
unmade. Every beautiful sunset,

look:
see the others on their phones
snap photos for strangers,
likers, digital lovers.
Lowball grandeur on a
five-inch screen.

It’s gone in a moment, anyway,
the pixelation of life,
bloated
and trapped
and yours.

Palm trees stand as windmills,
stilled, and they cannot fan
the vertical Culver sign,
risen like held smog.

Headlights on cars move
indistinguishably in time-lapse circles,
one after the other after the other.

 

(originally published in The Literary Commune – Issue #4, April 2015)