Olive Garden

On the way home from my first Passover
with your family we stop at an Olive Garden

in flyover country, where the waitress tells us
Happy Easter and, when you tell her we forgot

but still want angel hair, she jokes her last
table mistook pesto for alfredo. Sometimes

people confuse one god for another but never
their own, and food is ours– Jesus rising

with the dough of endless breadsticks
descending like ten plates of plagues, first-born

bastards in baskets we need no hunt to find
lest our mouths become black holes absorbing

absurd sanctities of tradition. Separately,
the Garden was where our families would gather

on intermittent nights to write our own Haggadahs
or speak sins of rock stars or mysteries

of faith. Afikomans for truth, perhaps, but instead
of matzo an endless bowl of a salad of words

in which we always beg for more
forgiveness without really wanting that.

And the waitress, before engaging the simplest rotor,
asks us to say when to end airstrikes of parmesan

and it does not matter when we do.

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Summer 2018)

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Fortune Cookie (May 9, 2017)

You have good reason
to be self-confident.

After all, this is what
the fortune cookie said.

After a dinner portion
of greasy lo mein
from New Peking.

After CNN reports
the president’s firing
of the FBI director.

This is a gross abuse of power,
and there is a gross amount
of noodles inside me.

Despite that,
I have good reason
to be self-confident,

I suppose.

I am reasonably certain
I still have a job.

I am reasonably certain
I am not under investigation.

There was no backdoor
deal struck with the restaurant
to ensure this would be

my particular
fortune.

All I did was order
the noodles via telephone.

Then I drove to the
restaurant to pick it up,
face-to-face.

I used my credit card
to pay for it, but
I will pay the bill.

In the plastic bag
they handed me,
there was a brown bag.

In the brown bag,
there was a white box
with my food in it

as well as chopsticks,
napkins, a fork, and
the fortune cookie.

That’s it.

All I’m saying is
if you don’t believe
me, investigate.

Anyone who says
differently
is reasonably suspicious.

 

(originally published in Landfill, Fall 2017)

I’m Fine

I’m with Lex at Lockview
ordering tomato soup because
I just got out of a relationship.

I tell him I’m fine, though he never asked.
The bowl arrives alongside my Kentucky Bourbon
Barrel Ale. I slurp red and talk loudly

for the cute girl at the table behind me
wearing all black– we made eye contact
waiting for tables between entrance and exit–

she doesn’t hear me, probably,
but my friend watches me cremate crackers
over the bowl to spoon the goo inside.

He says slow down but I say life moves
fast– hell, I ingested magic mushrooms
after leaving my ex’s place then Lex

asks our waitress for his grilled cheese
without mushrooms and the waitress asks for menus
but I hand her my bowl and say take it please

take it then tell her I’m fine and it was wonderful
being in my house alone after this happened standing
on the kitchen table beside the silver chandelier

lined with black mold and dirt and how
I waited for anyone to come home
and no one did so I kept standing.

 

(originally published in OVS Magazine, 2017)

Consuming Raw Chicken

can be severely detrimental, but don’t panic–
salmonella can be killed. You must know
its internal temperature. If not fully known,
your risk of distress increases. The dark tunnel.
The bones. If you suffer from adverse effects,
you will know within seventy-two hours.
Chills, fever, fatigue. Hallucinations.
If there is blood in you, inform your doctor
immediately. He may request a sample
to determine if you are alive, if symptoms
are what you’re even there for.

 

(originally published in The Blotter Magazine, Summer 2017)

Eggs

I cracked an egg
with a butcher’s knife
watching yolk seep
yellow cracked surface
rough on my hands
two halves and a spill
in the sink
I have a whole
carton little hopes
silent things never
living never words
I open
each heart to beat
to whisk to swirl
and wish a tornado
in this bowl of force
and gale in golden
pool in cauldron pan
and spatula pressing
hard over white turned
head caked edges
center sliced over
all this heat blackened
burnt but good
enough to eat

 

(originally published in SPANK the CARP, 2017)

Potato

In those formative years,
we had to sneak to bed,
wait for morning’s slow sprout.

We grew separated
by spade, soft
as mush, new spuds

underground, and emerged
rough-peeled in the other’s palm,
became those rough ovate shapes

we’ve come to recognize
as something good,
not good for you,

but nonetheless
a staple of
a balanced diet.

 

(originally published in The Icarus Anthology, Summer 2017)

SpaghettiOs

The bowl is where
the howls come from–
OoOoOoOoO!
A broken-record werewolf
in this microwave-boiled,
tomato-red September.
I have been trying to form
the words to say to you
with only a vowel.
When you left
for some knockoff white-hat,
greasy Chef Boyardee
I went to the zoo
to study manatees,
but they, too, are a migratory
species. I saw the first of its kind
take on a mangrove but emerge
fish-in-mouth. She floated to her
friend or brother or lover
and squealed syllables
until the other swam away.
I guess no one communicates
with each other the proper way
anymore. All these sounds
these OOOs and Os
processed uneaten

 

(originally published in The Oddville Press, Spring 2018)

Existential Ketchup

got a heinz bottle full of regrets
but it’s dried up as the crust of red’s
lost its use     you try to squeeze something
from an old heart and look how flappily
it beats sags and wheezes    yet I got a cold bag
of wendy’s to share salted and soggy
on our porch in december rain    I said
to go to be tax-free    and carefree yes
but on the swinging bench white-bagged I see
your face in wendy’s and your eyes some
sad fake black     pocket’s full of lint and loose change
and can’t stop sliding my hands in to feel my legs
burning with desire to get up and build trash
cans from scrap at the edge of the yard
then wait for the passersby
to throw their guilty pleasures in

 

(originally published in FLAPPERHOUSE, Fall 2017)

School Bus in the Blizzard (Supper Waits)

The chicken soup swirls with the ladle.
Garlic and pepper steam the kitchen.

Limp horseradish soaks
at the pot’s silver bottom.

White meat swims laps in the yellow broth.
Animals do fine without bones.

The clock strikes a new hour.
The oven timer goes off

(or does it). Outside,
snow blinds the world.

Shovels conceal pavement.
There is no good way home.

 

(originally published in Freshwater Literary Journal, Spring 2017)