Forsythia

The days when we would lay
on blue towels by the beach
combing through our Merriam-Webster
holding every fascinating word by the stems in our mouths,
our vibrancy was inseparable from gardens
full of hyacinths and rhododendron and zinnias
and, yes, forsythias, all these flowers in our hometowns
we never knew the names of
until we saw the words on sand-shorn pages,
said the names out loud, grasped endlessly
for petals in each other. No, we bloomed
laughter from our throats, planted seeds
into pits where absence grows in ensuing Aprils.
We never knew what words might appear
on Scrabble nights hunched over grids of possibility and–
strings of letters string surprising words together.
Marionettes, spider webs, violins, shoelaces,
your hair among the rules of nature, and nurture,
here nurturing the garden, here the home
where we tend other flowers– all my love,
I repeated. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia.
But those beach days were distant, the tide slurring
softly alongside my returns from long unexplainable workdays–
all my love, I repeated. For Cynthia.
Wooden tiles tornadoed to the floor, slapping
the carpet with words we had not invented yet–
there is no remedy for lost trust. The flame
already sleeps in the bed of the mouth.
Cynthia, Cynthia. I did not know a Cynthia–
but I had never been able to name a forsythia
in the wild. The next time I see one
will feel like cheating. Nothing too-known is magical–
there is wonder in inventing nomenclature,
that a word like forsythia can only be made
in moments like anesthesia, with darkness descending
like the cigarette clouds of a severe storm when, in the drift
into a new consciousness, a lilac floats your mind’s pond–
a lilac, maybe, though that’s not what you want,
and maybe, in the distance, you see the blossoming
yellow that accompanies spring, the air golden around it–
the beauty that’s grander than words.
You wish you never learned the name for it.

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2017)

Advertisements

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)

Church

Before you had a name, you were a stranger
searching for one.

Gravel, asphalt, salt, and stone–
I pieced you together, a church from scratch,
your holiness in my uttered breaths
of limestone, mortar, love…

your tall steeple stabbed the sky.
I could hear clouds dissipate,
crows caw and congregate
in our mutual worship of you.

Maybe you never needed a name.

When you vanished, my heart
reconstructed itself with God’s rubble,
compounded from type-two plastic,
Coca-Cola cans, rubber bands…

I never learned your name. With my mouth,
my body aflame, your steeple burned.

Bricks and timber screened
the sky. The smoke and fade–

the gray, the fog– that
was your name.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)

To Paige (From Jack)

no one else spell w – a –
l – k jus ta invigarate

our senses & tendons
jus me & u, ta be outside

& sniff da wine in roses, .

when ya dance arms a whirlwind i dont speak
cuz i kno a days come we both dancin

& howlin, listen da moon whisprin secrets
& i dont want ya palms leave my full belly

da way da sun snatch ya gone in mornins.

dont want u to wake : it mean some
time u stay , other time da wooden gate

outside squeak & take u where my nose
cant find u, , sometime fa days . i chew

on bones u gave til my tongue become
a skeleton thirstin . , i wait fa blue sky

ta stop ringin da sun , when da day turn
gray , when u somehow materalize ..

dats when i have u : darkness : u sleepin
on ya bed a bleach & purple catmint .

i pray da bright awful requiem dont
replay– when u rise i wonder if

today u turn ta harmony , , or void
& how long . but

wid u beside me ,
no need ta wonder .–

u,, protected , & me ,
nose fulla ya petals ,

da sauvignon in roses .

 

(originally published in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Autumn 2016)

Like a Box of Chocolates

Did you know what you were going to get, strolling
through the supermarket handpicking chocolates,

deciding between pecan bon bons, truffles,
and white chocolate shells filled with fudge?

We did not yet know the salt of incandescence,
your caramel smile on the roof of my mouth,

blind with each other’s taste, the lavender
some sickly rose blooming.

We melted together in the sun not worrying
about how our distinct tastes would smelt and swirl

around in our greedy mouths how our tongues flicked
and explored until we were almost satisfied but

every good thing melts the way autumn crumples
at the peak of its most swirling sweetness.

 

(originally published in bluepepper, 2016)

Golden Gate

I listened, during that foggy morning stroll
on the Golden Gate, when you alluded
to what it must mean to jump,
how it must feel to fall.

The foghorn blared every five minutes
from some ship we could not find beneath us.
We peered our heads over the low railing
and inhaled the gray.

Red telephones rang in our heads.
I can still hear the ringing
from the hotel’s broken phone–
thin wires dangled into lines

on our palms, curved and infinite–
an atlas to guide the whispers
we cupped into our hands
at night.

I feared faraway screams
or the deafening sound of cymbals, shards
of metal launched from the hinges
of what was thought secure–

I did not expect
in an instant, without percussion–
I did not expect the fog, how sterile
it seems, like the afterlife, how it turns

the familiar into silhouettes–
to make this any easier.

 

(originally published in riverbabble, Issue #28, Winter 2016)

Arizona Desert

sand lodged in the crooks of fingernails
watch the way light

reflects its own water
the last time something glimmered

was birth driving ninety
through the Arizona desert

the scorch in red rocks
pursued our same dreams

pricklier than a cactus
you leave who you love

the phone conversations
of dryer lint and treble

in heat, tires tremble
in cold, you wait

 

(originally published in “the vacant hinge of a song“, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)