In This Cafe You Thought You’d Find Solace from This World

through speakers 70s music bass
guitar heartbeat pulsating through
a weatherman chants forecasts out
of sync a microwave beeps the shrill
coffee machines trembling cash
register slamming baritone voice
barista says he has bad hearing you
said something before sandwich fan
spins no rhythm stringed spurt richochet
solos quiet everyone reading books
tablets not responding to chaos burnt
bagel wafting sorry sorry the window
rain begins drum drum drum drum
one two three four the faucet spits
on everyone walks in don’t you
want somebody to love?

 

(originally published in IthacaLit, Spring 2018)

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Can’t Stop Coughing

I binge-take extra-strength cough
drops with gooey menthol centers

having come home from Thanksgiving
earlier than expected

temperatures in the 30s
a shrill turn in the wind

no one outside
but to yell at dogs

men summoning phlegm
hack away at progress

here I sit
alone loudly

perched against white
pillows dry-throated

the medicine kicks in
allows me to speak up

to silence the wall’s tongue
a quiet my body loves

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

Kiss of the Cantaloupe

Sweet-suckled Slovenian lips–

Cleveland where I found you,
Columbus were you lost.

Some days a black blanket
we would lay under to seek stars

seeking something cold &
how our temperatures dropped

over the years. We’d burn nights
matchstick young, whiskey and coke,

peel clothes to cool– so the blades.
Puckered and bundled, how to cut

& create tiny crescent moons.

 

(originally published in The Penmen Review, 2018)

Scenery

My roommate takes me
for a walk, or she takes the dog
for a walk. It doesn’t matter.
It’s the second night

we’ve walked each other,
or the dog walked us,
sore throat, brainy fog,
and this time can’t even find

the moon, obscured by houses.
We look anyway, together,
comparing bloom to doubt,
how one is sure, the other

grows, and leaves
crunch beneath as the dog
stops our walking
to pee, to leave another

thing behind. On Sunday
I watched the Niagara dump millions
of gallons into itself, mist rising
into something, nothing. The moon

loomed huge over the bridge
to America towing sunset’s lavender
bed but you can watch a thing die
before your eyes, or not at all–

the way, driving back from Canada
in heavy traffic, I tapped you
on the shoulder on the sky bridge
and said, look, here’s something,

one thing beautiful left, look,
and took the world’s last magnificent,
proffered blue and there, as a passenger,
you refused.

 

(originally published in The Knicknackery, 2018)

Mortality as First Date

The chairs we sit in are steel
horses, sad and dead. What you said
at the gallery in the warehouse was
to you, I have only given death and cookies.
Or corpses confused with candy.
Your cheeks puff, withdraw.
You’re silver in ceramic.
If I were a romantic I’d say
you belong in the painting.
Longing, always. But I am
a romantic. When we strolled
the botanical gardens we found longing
in the plants deemed poisonous.
How close I get to each sweet thing.
How close each is to death.

(originally published in Pif Magazine, Winter 2018)

Penny / Heart

& when you sleep (waking
life is not cheap)
I know our love’s worth
something

out on our back patio
drinking bad wine on Tuesday
& the dog can’t decide
which side of the glass

he wants to live
on, the wild & murk
or the safe & stone.

I’m living life under
fluorescents or artificial
light, got a wallet made
of air I’m thumbing through,

somehow living & learning
despite the change
or lack of– glass

clinks on bronze floor.
I’m saying I love the sundown
& evening air, my fingers
locked in yours, unloose.

 

(originally published in Panoplyzine, Winter 2017)

Last Night’s Bonfire at My Desk

spilled honey clings to black wires
connecting the world my lifeblood
laptop nestled in her shell safe from fingers

goldenrod shirt covers the old burns
the pinewood ashes coat my nostrils
the harsh wind blows crooked conifer to the verge

almost to fracture the window waiting
to kaleidoscope glass a body as canvas
hardwood red lust to cleanse gathering dust

rain pats the chair-infested patio drips of
laughter boomerang from slippery brick
and the blonde coughs from beyond the dark
                                                halls of shed fur & grime

 

(originally published in Freshwater, Spring 2018)

Christmas Tree

the christmas tree represents unity meaning in this room we want each other blue
lights intertwined with pines green and lust thus we hang our ornaments
watch the tree shed its skin onto dog-dusty floor. there are hooks and angels angled
in the high-up spots you asked me to reach sharing the sangria with melting ice.
we light the darkest corner of our poorly-lit living room charlie brown
christmas piano guiding jazz strokes onto our wandering hands gliding up and down
bark needle and sharp.

 

(originally published in Abstract Magazine, Fall 2017)

Getting Sober

If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

 

(originally published in Rattle, Winter 2018 – nominated for Best of the Net)