Earth Angel

microphone in hand
                                        the gutter of volumetric gain

to finally sing gin (out of the system
                                                                         sky an ocean of lights)

the star made of you-matter: gold voice hot collision
where bar’s empty souls listening clink glasses

                            then rise in song to celebrate your living

A Date with Doubt

You look around the room
and rate singles from one to ten
in terms of melancholy
but don’t know
how to rate yourself–
Pacific waves flow through
you almost drown
in the sea of your thoughts–
the scisms between pen and mirror,
heart and mind, these are thieves
who will lie to you ‘til the Greyhound
leaves for Cincinnati at 11:30.
Until then we watch superheroes do bad
stand-up comedy in the conference room
at the new Mikey’s, eating mushroom pizza
with too-hot sauce. Bass pounds from the stage
so loudly we walk to 16-Bit next door
to drink water and pretend we are drunk,
our mouths rocketships exploring the universe
of each other– the rotation of stars
confused with physics. In the end all you want
is chocolate cake. Your blue eyes curve away
in that soaring flyball-to-left way. The way
you sway me back to simpler times
when buying CDs was a holy act
of personal preference
and I stayed sealed on a shelf in plastic,
waiting to give the world my music.

 

(originally published in Zingara Poetry Picks, Summer 2017)

To Sara (From Kingsford)

I scratch at doors because I hear a creature
moving in some box I have yet to lick.
Cardboard has the faint taste of forest, of hungry
bark. I have never ventured deep but the deep
knows my name, and when alone its voice
is sometimes distant but so heavy, I claw
the door’s painted wood until the woodlands stop
speaking, or someone lets me free. I explore dark
spaces and in this home I look for monsters
to flee– I run from shadows, sprinting through
the wilds of rooms wanting a chase to give
my motion meaning. Don’t get me wrong.
I’m grateful; I’m safe; I’m running from myself:
I’ve loved like vacancies in the clothes hanging
in closets. And loved like in your arms, eyes closed,
no more dark but in searching for the predator
to emerge in you– but on your bed, in this room,
in this home– there is only breathing and calm
I can’t sense in that outside world of creaking
and footsteps, of clouds rolling into thunder,
of multitudes of other things
I trust far less than you.

 

(originally published in York Literary Review, Spring 2017)

Pool-Blue

We lounge by the pool
& sink before entering.

Its blue averts new colors.
It’s simple: I don’t know how to love

without drowning,
lungs flooding with chlorine.

I never want to dive into the deep
& forget how to breathe

but I followed & found to love
is to leave your fins on land–

but silent in the deep, lungs
rationing air, I want us never to open

our eyes underwater to find
the pool colorless– that we

will always see the blue
the water does not have.

 

(originally published in GNU Journal, Winter 2017)

Band Room

there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not

such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs

but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas

muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night

we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows

the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers

down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes

every piece celestas
on wet reed floor

the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something

 

(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)

Monday Night Rain

out of wisdom / out of want / so many / things / to not believe /
whether or not / you or I believe / you will end things / with your boyfriend /
I have seen your tattoos / just the surface / of your skin / understand I /
cannot chase / the gilded raven / with closed wings / I press into /
your hair / black against my mouth / the warmth of your ear /
in the back / of the room / holding /
so laugh quietly / whisper / don’t hold onto / anything /
be far enough away / from intimacy / that it feels like / intimacy /
a secret / a terrible secret / the way our mouths / don’t cling /
to each other’s / my hand / on your leg / your head /
turned away / in the back / of the room / we listen / to words / want to fall /
asleep / with each other / we want to / drift / from reality /
the blinds / and the gathers / Monday rain / fog / rain / I’ll help you / dry /
wielding an umbrella / for both of us / to stand / under / where we can / lie /
to each other / more intimately / watch the whole thing / fall asleep /
as the world / puts her weight / on the black / handle / in my hand /
and drains / with a whisper / into the gutter

 

(originally published in Birch Gang Review, Winter 2017)

My First Conversation with Anna

was on a stump under a wooden bridge
that led nowhere. You said I am a fence

wanting pink clouds. We walked the tumorous hill.
You brought up your depression. The green

was infinite and quiet and a silence of oaks.
It was cold and snowing when I was naked

in the dirt digging with my hands with the other naked people.
We did not know what we were looking for. It was the first day

of winter and our legs burned from the chill. I said,
tell me everything you’ve ever known to be true.

You said nothing. But I make videos and we can record
our legs for twenty minutes– just the motion is enough

to nourish us. Hairy legs, hairless legs, left leg, right leg
walking upward to the nearest star– we carved a path

but it was our galaxy led us believe we could wind
and weave through sporadic trees called parks / art

exhibitions and we have these trees
on leashes trying to be trees

and if only we could look at them
and notice our leaves the same

we are so ill with them so malignant
and stuck and if we layer with them

into them if we could grow with them
we would bloom forever in ourselves

and then what would we have to talk about?

 

(originally published in mannequin haus, Summer 2016)

At the Mar Vista Public Library

the ponytail blonde in the banana sweater & black leggings
floats in some fiction world she belongs in
then asks the librarian a question I cannot hear

she shrugs when she speaks
(reluctant windmill)

she figure-skates her slow, shelved glissando
(fantasia of the no-talking zone)

I am writing this poem when
she shoots past my table
with a green hardcover book–

I did not catch the title
or ask for her name
so I am left with
only my words:

anxieties
I find harder
& harder to
decipher
every
day

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)

Gate C55

Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:

a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows

of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–

we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure

but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber

the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–

where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds

descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.

 

(originally published in Rust  + Moth, Autumn 2016)