Pool Party

Yesterday we were at a pool party
attended by only a few others. It was
dog-friendly, as it was last week,
so the lone, small white dog
lapped water into his mouth
while on an inflatable raft and we
stood in silence and watched as he
drank the blue that held the specks
of fallen leaves and submerged spiders
while our beers turned warm. Last week
we were at a party in the same house
with a few of the same people but the
sun was out and I did not have to keep
wondering if you were okay, if you would
dip your feet into the clear with me and all
the people we did not know then because,
last week, a stranger in a bar did not yet
shake your body and bite you
long after you begged him not to–
no, the night before last week’s party
we danced to nineties hip-hop
inside the shadows of others until
we could not help but mine our
bodies for gold. Last week, we laughed
as the dog lapped the pool into his mouth
but watching, now, we know there are some
who force a tongue at whatever water
they see fit, how they lap and lap
until there’s nothing but a splash
of what they lapped at all.

 

(originally published in The Collapsar, Summer 2016)

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)

29th & Vermont

bone-worn dog & hung head asked high kids holding lemons,
tangy hair in the air, zest & bitter tantalus–

went to dumpster-cat (blackberry feet)
sick of white gloves, guttural mews.

coarse throat, bumpy pink tongue trickled yesterday’s juices,
held the water, blue sky whirring, whirring– engines / exhaust!

icecream trucks! brahms overture, mary had a little lamb
escaped from jail with vanilla dripping down her hands–

pigeon following, little pecks, boots collected
sidewalk grime and ran, ran, ran!

ask the man skin dandruff collecting flies–
there’s no more room in this bone-white van

still raise you head high, tide bring ‘em to shore
hang you head on my leg say the moon help me beg!

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, February 2016)

Seatless Unicycle

She is a seatless unicycle who dangles on a string attached to a wire on a telephone pole. Her pedals spin with the wind. The payphones wonder if still she can ride. They worry she will roll off into the parking lot and strike the black ramshackle Lincoln to gift another dent. Cars in motion on the street will snort and shriek. In saturnalia a brown Boerboel yelps and hurtles and snatches her tire with ferocity in his jaw. He tugs and pulls as her wheel snarls and squeaks. He drags with his fur the weight of concrete. Her rubber hairs become roots she cannot untangle from white oak trees sequestered to forests she cannot reach. The parking lot is gravelly and minuscule. Caterpillars need more space to bloom. Butterfly-eyed people who look like dead poets recite words with aluminum in their tracheas.

 

(originally published in Corvus Review, Winter 2015)