Rotor

If you drive a car whose
combustion confuses fuel

for air, the engine will quiver
along smooth concrete.

At certain speeds, a clanking
rotor is similar

to the natural cadence
of heartbeats in embrace:

amplitude becomes a deafening
in the stillness of night.

Let a rotating machine of mass
be mounted on a stiff spring

to fix support. The pieces
must move vertically in

a single degree of freedom
even if the rotor is unbalanced,

its hypnotic center missing
one valve’s intake,

forgetting the other’s exhaust.

 

(originally published in Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Summer 2017)

Facts

I don’t believe a word you say. The stairs
separate us because you’re on another

level. Gravity is what pulls us together.
& absence of death. You talk in spirals.

I want to follow. A wind-up rotor wheels
his way back. Intransient movement.

I believe in higher planes
when looking to the sky in airports.

 

(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)

Symbolism for a Millennial Breakup

I cracked my phone screen
on my first date without you.

I carried it in my back pocket, like always,
though maybe I postured myself differently,

finally sitting up straight enough
to carry my own weight.

I didn’t look at my phone
until after the date. By then,

I could no longer remember you
without the shattered glass–

the flawless screen was not made
from our blazing beach days

of black seaweed and slithering kites
that begged the wind to let go,

where footsteps parted sand
to lead the tide into ourselves,

to let the moon drag our bodies
into the ocean’s boundless mirrors

where, enveloped in reflections,
we could only gasp for air.

 

(originally published in Metonym, Fall 2017)

Breakfast

I forgot about the Honey Nut Cheerios
I left on the counter in the kitchen.

Brought it to my room after my coffee,
grains soggy, milk sweet. Tried eating it

anyway but fell apart in sugary disintegration.
So I gave up. That’s usually what happens–

a few bites and that’s enough. I let it sit,
let it warm in the morning’s cool, gradual rise

to afternoon heat thinking about the satisfying
crunch it should give me, how I could have clamored

for seconds. I caress the silver spoon in deep
to slow splash and clank. This is what it becomes:

a pool of not-good-enough and I can’t will myself
to lift the ceramic altar to my lips to drink. I stare

at bottomless milk and know I live somewhere drowning
in this disappointment treading out to some delicious

shore somewhere only I know how to live, but here’s
this stale frothy white, stagnant in my bowl,

and me hovering lamenting stressing
over something fixable.

 

(originally published in The Remembered Arts Journal, Winter 2017)

Pool-Blue

We lounge by the pool
& sink before entering.

Its blue averts new colors.
It’s simple: I don’t know how to love

without drowning,
lungs flooding with chlorine.

I never want to dive into the deep
& forget how to breathe

but I followed & found to love
is to leave your fins on land–

but silent in the deep, lungs
rationing air, I want us never to open

our eyes underwater to find
the pool colorless– that we

will always see the blue
the water does not have.

 

(originally published in GNU Journal, Winter 2017)

Library Days

That gray summer was spent buried
in fantasy novels beside my father’s grave.

It was rain in bitter heat, a whirlwind of pages
as my hands returned to oak, night lamp aglow.

Always I end in a nestle of branches and words,
longing to strip my faded jeans and unbathe,

ride a dragon into goldenrod, triangular
wings swallowing the neutral sky–

so often I shovel terrain in my mouth,
wishing time erode the sediment

that builds cities in my body,
skyscrapers in my throat.

 

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

Band Room

there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not

such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs

but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas

muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night

we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows

the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers

down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes

every piece celestas
on wet reed floor

the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something

 

(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)

Disturbances

autumn’s scarlet
stopped telling truths

long before
her collapsed desire

was in Buddha’s
outspread hands

winds of prayer change
as seasons pass

to the lost mantles
of our mouths’

amplified thoughts
we no longer have

 

(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Winter 2017)