What We Talk About When We Talk About

Pepper burned my mouth
and all I could think of
in that salivated flame
was you telling me your tongue
no longer felt the heat
of a moment: meaningless
sex– bite and garment
here between the green
walls of your zen room
your small goldfish
swimming in circles–
submerged flame and hunger
for love so intense
I flicker poems to you
thumbs on lighters
waiting for the matchbook
to catch– combed pomade
hair, designer jeans, and wit–
what I want is origami
and fire– instead
we talk about love
but unlike Raymond Carver
we have nothing
more to say.

 

(originally published in Words Dance, Summer 2017)

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Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 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)

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)

Clothes on the Bed

the room infiltrates us / fabrics and hangers / bedroom who is this / who are you i / don’t want you / to leave / i / haze / the fog / machine whirs / the pillow / smells like morning / orange banana strawberry / smoothie sweat old / and citrus / the blender whirred / like the black drawer / pulled in and / out / the routine is / the blue / sheet draped / stained forever / the blue / digital alarm / never woke us / sit / sit / black leggings / where are you going / healthy healthy / we draw lines / the visible line / the horizon / with those smoky faraway / buildings / the end is / never coming / we cannot see it / from where we sit

 

(originally published in The Legendary)