Mud

or is it clay or is it ghosts I remember
muddy footprints you walking in from
rain white plate of cookies in sweat-palms
mud on floor you said sweet, sweet, sweet,
sweet children all those black nights the salty
wind knocking its way in through shut
windows the dead flowers in vases
received sunlight their daily bread
give us ours the ramshackle trinity of unclean
dishes filthy hands and the sticky fridge door
which wouldn’t open not for you
and certainly not for us

 

(originally published in Califragile, Fall 2017)

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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)

Landscapes

pray to the clay
and snow
there are canyons
cratered in our hearts
not every landscape
is refined each is full
of fingerprints and colors
undefined through
every ridge
the sandstone
in her face you will find
who you are looking for
in any landscape the forests
your father the mountains
your mother the shifting
desert sand tombs
are caverns you must lose yourself
in memories and forget
the horizon no one
seems so far away
beside the ocean

 

(originally published in Uppagus, Fall 2017)

Ephemeral Garden

The map leads from bloom to wing
to sky– we followed gracefully before
black swan wings haunted our spines.

I was tangled in the garden of words
and you did not believe a thing
I said. I cowered in sagebrush

to study flying squirrels (the wingless
claim the sky). I told you I would never tell
another lie because what is truth

in an ephemeral garden, where the birdsong
of thrashers becomes language?
I attempt to look away from truth

but the truth is, nothing in this world
shocks me any more than when I crane my head
to see the nightmare we have become.

 

(originally published in Zany Zygote Review, Spring 2017)

Wave

when the continents drift apart
again

at least I know any island would keep you
in its palm

and stay afloat

while tectonic ghosts shift
the ocean

every cyan wave an old hello

when I last tried to hold your sail
in my fist you turned to water

but I hear the tide sing melodies
that must return

bearing my name in pewter clouds
and silver rushes the word into air

into a sailboat– I see shape
in risen mist

with hope the form lingers

long enough to lead us
to where we need to be

 

(originally published in SHANTIH, Fall 2016)

City at Night

When the city stops buzzing, streetlights
invite reflections onto storefront windows.

Finally, the distortions make us young,
removing cigarette burns and ash.

What love is reserved for the old? The bridge
seems sturdy in winter but more slippery

with its blue-streaked ice– and mouths of
gravel seem ageless. Time rescinds her reach

toward the cradle of sleep–
maligned shoes end on a cold porch,

slathered in a salty grit. Snow on
the doormat waits for extinction.

 

(originally published in “the vacant hinge of a song“, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)