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)

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)

Raskolnikov

the weight of an axe sleeps
between us in bed.

we dream of horses
wanting to whip us

until the stable
lives up to its name.

the pawnbroker’s hunched shadow
further crumples into shadow.

there it is, a black apple–
and your pupils, telling truths into the dark.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)

I Tell Her I Love Her

I tell my girlfriend I love her
before we go to bed every night.
I tell her I love her in Vegas, in front
of slot machines spinning statistics,

neon colors blinding eyes beyond
our blur of vodka. I tell her I love her
before we fight in a tent on the beach
drunken under blankets and after that, too.

I don’t tell my mom I love her
on the phone when she’s alone
in her bedroom, when she cries
many nights because her twenty-

nine year marriage lives only in memories,
photographs, marginalia, in the musk
of dried sweat on forest-green cargos.
He had dragged an oak limb

after soft rain; now, crusted mud–
crevices alive in the treading
of boots– traces new footsteps
on less-traversed floors.

 

(originally published in Boston Accent Lit, Summer 2016)

Hyacinth Rose

there are many flowers come across paths
alongside apartments but nonesuch like the

hyacinth rose wrapped tightly as such stands
outside a tiny market in view of black-grim

graffiti reading with a smile worth at least fifty
fifty-cent avocados because spring lays beyond

the peel of skin like waking up to jumbled
white sheets with the knowing of presence past

white walls hanged with stationary song which
would sing if only strings could strum themselves

 

(originally published in The Bitter Oleander, Spring 2015)