Taboo

the gorge is endless & insatiable
there is a river, then many mouths
& there is your mother
in the next room cooking soup
& there is a mother
on screen bent over stovetop
with stepson rocking back
& forth into hunger
& now spoons clank
on plate before dinner
& your privacy settings–
a closed door
& now your father
home from work
& now the stepfather
makes his daughter behave
& your sister
walks in off the bus
& now the step-sister
removes the mushroom of her skirt
taking her brother by the name
of their familiar
revelation
which is all relative
to the mold of a home
all mildew & dust
spiderweb & tangle
& turn of doorknob
to walk years
through thin hallways
of broken light
fixtures & coughs
to sit in the dining room
all together & eat
years of steaming
garlic, basil, tomato,
salt

 

(originally published in The Cerurove, Fall 2017)

Meditation on Muscle Memory

If I had musical talent
I wouldn’t write poems.

Guitar-grown fingernails.
Nimble strings.

There’s no need
to lie. I couldn’t bring myself to try

when my parents thought
it’d be a good idea for me
to take piano lessons.

I had Game Boy eyes
and the Final Fantasy theme on repeat.

My dad had already explained
the difference between basin wrench

and torque. Wasted an afternoon
taping leaking pipes.

Like many of his time
he knew plumbing, mechanics,
home improvement

then brought me into rooms with broken
machines. My mind was Mickey Mouse
spelling words and song,

not the kind to vivisect
a bird to learn the function.

All I knew were not even stories yet
and still my hands
sing few callouses.

 

(originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Spring 2018)

Mechanics

dad rode motorcycles
through west virginia

mountains gathering speed
in the stillness of wheels

yet you are afraid to change
oil or fix your slow traction

of time– anything mechanical
is coiled magic in function.

the broken-down car sputters.
the ghost lays on cardboard

leaking, dripping synthetic
black splotches on concrete–

no knowledge remains.
there is a rattle

in the carburetor
when you drive

 

(originally published in The Good Men Project, Summer 2017)

Temporary Treasures

my father once mowed a rabbit into the lawn–
perfection leaves corpses

the tractor drones loud radio static

I never want to be someone
who compares pop music
to a limping tornado

autumn’s kaleidoscope leaves
the crumpled xylophone

black bags the scattered records

a taut-needled march to old age
I say these things now
but Eugene Delacroix said it best:

he was like a man owning a piece of ground
in which, unknown to himself, a treasure lay buried

music of the ether
of shifting chatter
fang-laughs from the teenage zeitgeist

when else has our unity
hinged on the city’s mustard smell

whether it’s there
or there isn’t

vapidity is DNA’s rapt curse

relinquishing joyrides for dimes
is our chosen profession

I prefer cremation to cream
and commitment to half & half

ambulances shriek when people talk
I never hear the atmosphere’s shrill
nor slow warmth of glaciers

in the spring of mottled souls
what is that frozen world?

we should unearth its hardened treasures

blue ice
and hammer

 

(originally published in Jokes Review, Summer 2017)

Slow Bullet

My father often mourned
the mortality of grass. I never

want to grow accustomed to the mower’s
tornado roar then limp drawl

that crumples summer’s green
into bent xylophone. I wonder

every morning why I’m there, or here,
and never sure where I ever

relinquish my shed skin for dust
blowing out into the wellspring of time.

 

(originally published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, Summer 2017)

The Funeral

                                           After Band of Horses

After my sister’s morning call broke
our father’s death, the first thing

I did was listen to Everything All the Time,
sobbing into unrequited guitar

and an ethereal voice soaring
into some great beyond. Seven years later,

I drink Bordeaux with my roommate
in the kitchen, cyclical tones

filling the room. The guitar is a coffin
for us both, lowering Dad’s corpse

into dirt. Her grandpa died
when this song released.

We rake our past leaves under burnt-out bulbs.
We agree: The Funeral was written for both of us

to pass the billion-each-insignificant day.
Dead leaves own the lawn each season

of our funerals. The same deaths
in autumn chill still dropping the needle

into memory’s vinyl– to come up only
to pull us under, show us wrong.

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Spring 2017)

Chapbook Release: ‘The Frayed Edge of Memory’

Today’s a bit of a special day for me: my first poetry chapbook, ‘The Frayed Edge of Memory’ (Writing Knights Press) has released and is now available for purchase! It’s 44 pages and only $8 for a physical copy. Really excited for you to read it! Thank you so much for your support.

Two sample poems that are in the book: ‘Gate C55’ and ‘Short Return to Los Angeles’

(Goodreads)

My Father Was a Beekeeper

I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.

In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.

He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.

In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.

Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen

to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.

Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando

through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–

honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies

heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)

*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology

Dog on the Patio

Whenever I let the dog out
onto our small back patio
on sunny afternoons
and he lays on familiar brick

scratching his ears,
nose curious and wandering,
I remember my father

who, in the endless days of retirement,
learned the lawn better
than his calloused palms:

every humpbacked tree and drooping limb,
every snake and gopher hole,
every new and fallen anthill,
every cobweb on the lamppost,

where to find toads after rain,
how to catch them–

when he did not strive to create utopia
by chiseling trees into magazine models,

I often found him on a patch
of freshly-mown grass,
scratching his smoky, sun-basked beard,

waiting for the wind to speak,
to say more to him than I ever did.

 

(originally published in Black Elephant Lit, Spring 2016)