The Uncertainty Principle

Quantum physics have never been
more real than in this steaming
silver pot of Annie’s shells
and cheddar butter and milk
I’m cooking and the cat in our house
attacks crumpled-up balls
of paper yet sprints in fear
when a toilet is flushed. We are
all in orbit. You and me and
Earth and spoon in pot
mixing components into
tornado and I don’t know
where the melting butter
ends up nor the cheese
or where I’ll be in ten
years or a thousand
because our atoms
can diverge into
two paths any given
moment

          THE FIRST PATH

the one where you and I and most our friends and family are still alive
because ten years is a long time    someone both of us love has died
it’s my father I see dandelions on the dead a suit and tie something
he never would have worn & your mother her silky dress and
Avon perfume wafting through the wake      the frost her
permanent winter bed

          THE SECOND PATH

the one where you and I and all our friends and family are still alive
because ten years is a long time     someone both of us love will die
I see a bowl of ashes I see dead dandelions wilting on the stove
the steam carries souls up into my nose where I recall the heat
and depth of the Grand Canyon   sun pressing against my
neck Dad in his thick glasses & sweat     arms around me &
I pick up a stone & throw it over the edge

 

(originally published in The Courtship of Winds, 2019)

Switches

Dad knew which fuse box switch did what–
in this way, he chose for us the light and dark.
His hands blackened from cracking walnuts
over the years, hammering husks in the

night when the rest of us were sleeping,
loud whacks startling us temporarily awake then
drifting back into our own darknesses beneath familiar
stars. After his death, we found Dad’s walnuts

in barrels in the corner of his workshop alongside
spiders and memories we could not yet scrape.
My brother said, to honor him, we had to break
and eat each one, despite the bulk. That Dad lived

a rich life poor, that the taste might activate
memory’s accordion, careening us in and out
the past and present, turning life to death then life
again, discordant in its forlorn loudness.

 

(originally published in 3Elements Review, Spring 2018)

The Funeral

                                           After Band of Horses

After my sister’s morning call broke
our father’s death, the first thing

I did was listen to Everything All the Time,
sobbing into unrequited guitar

and an ethereal voice soaring
into some great beyond. Seven years later,

I drink Bordeaux with my roommate
in the kitchen, cyclical tones

filling the room. The guitar is a coffin
for us both, lowering Dad’s corpse

into dirt. Her grandpa died
when this song released.

We rake our past leaves under burnt-out bulbs.
We agree: The Funeral was written for both of us

to pass the billion-each-insignificant day.
Dead leaves own the lawn each season

of our funerals. The same deaths
in autumn chill still dropping the needle

into memory’s vinyl– to come up only
to pull us under, show us wrong.

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Spring 2017)

Lance’s Lament

as we gathered to mourn
the puppy struck by a car
outside of the bank,
i was reminded of glue:
how it encrusts fingers; if
it could seep through skin
it would sleep in your lungs
& heart & hasten the path
to the common rest

they couldn’t have fastened
the coffin with glue– too cruel,
they said–

if your hand could even summon
the will to move

a square, red magnet fastens
your snow origami valentines forever
to green construction paper, tiny prayers
bottled

i hope there is another side, even when i open
the door for orange juice, cool breath of air
within, glass, it breathes, infested
with my own fingerprints, tartness
prior to the swallow
& acceptance– for as long as i am,
you are, too

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)

My Father Was a Beekeeper

I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.

In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.

He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.

In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.

Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen

to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.

Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando

through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–

honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies

heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)

*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology

Because I Never Listened to Your Stories

Thirty-five years and fingernails
darken, blacken from walnuts
and the cracks of hammers, the coming
of dawn, clouds wrapped in thunder–

the fruiting spire, the pear-toned
light, the front lawn fire, charcoal
grass, green peels ripening– ripe–
soft–

red Helix stagnant, lonesome, remembering
the wet-leather thunderstorm days
cruisin’ seventy,
the human box of organs and history
holding rubber handles
treaded like hieroglyphics–

interpret me. Listen.

These are the words on the bathroom stall
fingernail-scratched and ignored

What Will You Remember?

Not the stories told in tones softer than television

 

(originally published in NEAT., Issue 7)