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)

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By the Ocean

As the tide heartbeats forth,
my lovers return in salt.

Silver-winged seagull loses herself
& dives.

Yesterday I thought
I would be in love forever–

today, whiskey on my tongue,
sand in my eyes.

I want to find every person
I ever loved within the waves,

how navy shuts
thin books of light.

The line between sand & tide
is awash with wings.

Salt burns my mouth
& I am drenched

in your foam, milking
the sea for words–

the sea swollen with stories
we never told,

words we
never said.

 

(originally published in Common Ground Review, Spring 2018)

Real Shit

We’re eating Thai food, like we were supposed to do yesterday,
and I tell you that spice level, I couldn’t handle but next I know

we’re walking through alleys shoulder-to-shoulder when you ask
when you gonna talk about the real shit? And we keep on, sun

dipping to avoid the real conversations and I know this box of Stella
in my hand isn’t strong enough to make me start, but in my house

there’s honey whiskey, and I ask if that’s real enough but no,
too much sweetness. We drink anyway, ice falling from freezer

to floor as I reach for Old Crow to hurry to some kind of real talk,
the kind we couldn’t find on our walk to Giant Eagle

but there are bonfires too hot for our hearts in the real world,
a tinder of paper and logs we decide not to learn the names of

and we’re drowning whiskeys, beers, and slow small-talk
telling each other about exes to the flame’s orange humming

and that’s real, I thought, but not real shit and so the hanging lights
are unplugged and we’re searching for stars through clouds of smoke

and we talk about how little we know, how far we want to go
but beside you those stars don’t seem so far and in the swirl

of darkness we kiss, realize that’s the real shit
until we open enough to tell each other.

 

(originally published in Cease, Cows, Fall 2017)

Public Urination

I manifest prayer
into the unspoken covenant of suburbia,

the gravel pockmarked by drought,
by time, trickling time. . .

the desert calls its rare waters oasis– so,
purge the monstrous depths of your chosen gorge,

knives outwardly aimed
at some balloon’s held breath–

 

(originally published in Pouch, Spring 2016)

Excessive Drinking

I am a sun-drenched willow field withered and
purple. Headache remiss, wonder when the liver
will churn its nightly clarion call, squeezing rags
to drag the water out.

Sometimes the nights are like that in the silence
between friends. The drafts replace talking.
You can’t hear the words with breath so still
and distant, willows soon awakening.

 

(originally published in Transcendence Magazine, Summer 2016)

Two Guys, Two Gallons of Yuengling, Two Plastic Jugs

Tongues composed of lager and slathered words drip
turbulence from the roadmaps of mouths, the ocean’s
rock and regurgitation. We meandered along brick-paved
roads with half-amber jugs in our hands, how quickly
we drown but how slowly we swayed on swings
in the frigid, desolate playground at night by the highway,
eyes entranced by the spotlight from the city’s hidden heart
we desire but never find but in the beer’s flat hops like a pair
of clumsy trombonists, asynchronous staccatos and B-flat
scales bottling air from silver mouthpiece to S.O.S–

 

(originally published in Cacti Fur, Summer 2016)

Tiny Vodka Glasses

love is however many tiny
glasses of vodka we drank
and discarded

sun shards held those hands
of many folds

this little glass-dagger
carves the elegy of hummingbirds,
holds veins in my porous fingers

we sing the wooden desk
in the alley of deep potholes
our branchmouths stripped
of leaves but kindling flame

to scratch the words evenly
scrapes on the whitened palms
the lines intersect always
it is not simple to crumple
those tiny bedroom vodka sheets &
weave them neatly into garbage

 

(originally published in Loveliest – Issue #1)