The Hours

Can’t even sustain myself with the hours
I work to make myself; a waterfall of dollars
and dreams splashing off wet stone. I hold no

heart hostage but my own; the heart holds me
hostage through beating, my breathing
a slow decay. In aging I prove nothing

to the universe except that I exist;
through the office, I prove I do not.
Despite the hours, the blood and bone

monuments I erect, then forget–
the steady draining of days worth
not enough to get me by.

 

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2018)

Fantasy After a Few Good Dates

I’ll enter our bedroom to open
my laptop where I reserve
a French five-star dinner and
yes we have kids in this dream
the universe theirs to explore
so they start by clanging pots
and pans in the sine band of
our kitchen underbelly worlds
smaller than the space we used
to enclose the first time beneath
the orange blanket hot chocolate
wafting from the kitchen slunk
into pillowcases and snug before
the sun steams yolk in the black
pan gathers its yellow around
the edges waiting patiently to
rise

 

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

Complicit

I have been trying to cough up the bald eagle
lodged in my heart, but only feathers have landed
wet on this dirt. I love this country, but this is too white
for me to say. Too long have I been silent in privilege
while our nation’s darkest forces– white-winged
and fire-breathing– cast their manifest, the harming
kind of loudness. There is no one in my life who
admits agreement with white supremacy, but I also
know there must be– and if silence is complicity,
I must be no longer. So I cough out the beak, the flag,
the gun whose silent bullets I have already fired.
I am so sorry for the silence–
everyone I haven’t known I have hurt.

 

(originally published in Rise Up Review, Winter 2018)

Our Cafe as Morning Vacation

On the patio drinking iced coffee
you write a letter to Jane Fonda
telling her you always thought
you’d be an actress– that distant
magical woman with a collection of
workout VHS tapes, one of which you
bought when thrifting. The sun is out. Lawyers
beside us talk about renovations to streets
near campus but from straw to lips– you and I,
our city infrastructure’s solid. We do not
fill our holes with asphalt to build new roads
lined with palm trees and your bagel stays fresh
in morning cool that feels like Palm Springs,
California. I am somewhere old yet unfamiliar:
a vacation in our neighborhood, a beach
house along the shores of the Scioto river,
oldies guitar strumming through air
like a boat guided by breeze–
fond of the present, sailing upstream.

 

(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Spring 2018)

Sunrise

Driving west to Columbus from my partner’s house
in Pittsburgh early morning and on I-70 around six
in the rearview there’s a giant burst of orange light nearly
deafening in its glory and my first thoughts are fire and fury
then you’re gone but no it’s a heavenly sunrise and I can’t
remember the last time I witnessed the sun rise though a few
days ago she and I were in Vermont about to hike an
overlook before sunrise to watch it but we couldn’t will
ourselves out of bed and what a world to wake to now
driving alone this big dramatic ball of fury revealing its
magnificence bathing land in light before it softens
            how it could have been one or the other
a burst of beauty or unspeakable tragedy yet from a distance
a bomb might seem as beautiful and harmless as a sunrise
at least until the smoke how with fire too there’s a kind
of enchantment but for this a split second then the anguish
and fury for this sunrise greeting a thousand grieving days

 

(originally published in Old Red Kimono, Spring 2018)

Submerge

From oneness: two, three, four.
Shadows through doorways.
Breath from water. Surface

bubbles, rippled sighs. The ocean
dried, became a city. Marine lights.
Pearl buildings. Skyscrapers so

old you can see the way the
world will end.
No one knows the space they occupy.

We fade in water. We fade
in air. We fade in living,
drown in life.

 

(originally published in Zany Zygote Review, Winter 2018)

 

High Street Construction

The busiest road in Columbus is an obstacle course: orange cones
and road closeds (open to local traffic only). Here, in the heart
of Ohio, we build by tearing down. A red crane leaps and a small
business closes, resurrects as Target– bullseye– the suit, the lipstick.

Soon you, too, will not be able to afford to live here. The remodeled
library is threatened by the bones across the street: a nine-story
building in the midst of construction. Wind whips plastic
bags that hang from its scaffolds and I see the ghost–

the restaurant in its wake. Dark clouds
gather above, knowing they, too, have displaced.

 

(originally published in Literary Orphans, 2018)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)