Sunrise

Driving west to Columbus from my partner’s house
in Pittsburgh early morning and on I-70 around six
in the rearview there’s a giant burst of orange light nearly
deafening in its glory and my first thoughts are fire and fury
then you’re gone but no it’s a heavenly sunrise and I can’t
remember the last time I witnessed the sun rise though a few
days ago she and I were in Vermont about to hike an
overlook before sunrise to watch it but we couldn’t will
ourselves out of bed and what a world to wake to now
driving alone this big dramatic ball of fury revealing its
magnificence bathing land in light before it softens
            how it could have been one or the other
a burst of beauty or unspeakable tragedy yet from a distance
a bomb might seem as beautiful and harmless as a sunrise
at least until the smoke how with fire too there’s a kind
of enchantment but for this a split second then the anguish
and fury for this sunrise greeting a thousand grieving days

 

(originally published in Old Red Kimono, Spring 2018)

Small Fires

My throat charred as I said it– you
across that barbed-wire table in sunshine
blinding me with reflected sun with your
sunglasses. I knew we were made of darkness
because the tears would not come. I do not need
to get over you, only to jump missing-you hurdles
but I quit track after a week of running in high school
with cramped legs, sunburn, shortness of breath.
I practiced breathing into trombones and trumpets
trying to make meaning without knowing the
names of anyone I loved or would love but
music burns and the orchestra still bleats
full sound into my ears while my lungs
blacken from cigarettes, and all I can do
is watch smoke from my mouth rise
into blue, become the new cloud
I loved too much, too soon.

 

(originally published in Writing Knights Grand Tournament V Anthology, Summer 2016)

Magic

If you bought me a wizard hat,
I would learn magic

–to easily complete these blue pajamas
adorned with white stars, the soft and safe.

In the day we glimmer. At night–

let’s make sleep a spell, a slow
slip into lullaby, a cradle free

from disagreement, a glass of wine
to forget we inhaled the wind.

We almost floated
into the squeeze of dark. In bed

I watch cartoons in my head: Fantasia fireworks. Flames
that frame the bitter sky. Neon daisies in glowing eyes.

I dream hours researching the best tongue
to learn. The world may need a hero to

vanquish evil through fire, or ice, but all I want
is the kind of magic that keeps you warm at night,

far removed from my cold touch. The kind
where we whisper warm enchantments,

recite words which will not conjure ice.

 

(originally published in Switched-On Gutenberg, Summer 2016)

Election Year

do you believe in demons
it is an election year
which means half the populace is terrified
more than they usually are
half of us believe you can cast hell on a ballot
without holding your breath
cloaked and mortared
to cast bombs into the future
always parachutes
forthcoming days that glide like saliva
we argue until our tongues hurt
and our minds are worn from fire
that we build organically
rubbing sticks together
and the whole nation burns
cold and lifeless
what America needs
is for fewer people
to preach what America needs
and to follow the strays
who wander the streets
to see where they go

 

(originally published in Black Elephant Lit)