“A Man Bears Beliefs as a Tree Bears Apples”

 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

pleading with a red delicious begging god for good
even though I cannot process Jesus I still chew and
spit seed and you walk over the guts of me with your
shoes on sidewalk in the sweltering August of laying
in grass whispering love between dandelions so much
we’re sprouting from dirt in ugly ways all thorn
and bloom overgrown with each other there are
no gloved hands around anymore to pull us out

 

(originally published in Bluestem, Spring 2017)

Warehouse Beach

The warehouse art gallery could never be mistaken for the beach,
even as curators charade sand across the dancefloor,
make us remember desire. Violins strike the throbbing air
with an electronic pulse, a horsehoof beat activating

the summer IPAs we drank beforehand to create
our summer selves. It ends. You end. At home later on
we watch documentaries where owls hunt forests for prey.
I pray we will soar but never hungry above branches.

Mostly I pray for our hearts to not be plucked raw, how stranded
and helpless we can feel in a new town while the world whirls
a thousand miles per hour– we stumble through sliding landscapes–
sand on concrete wails for sun, for sunset wind to whip

through industrial, unfinished interiors. We dance, or run,
until light draws herself from the ocean’s muted stone.

(originally published in Crack the Spine, Winter 2016)

Wave

when the continents drift apart
again

at least I know any island would keep you
in its palm

and stay afloat

while tectonic ghosts shift
the ocean

every cyan wave an old hello

when I last tried to hold your sail
in my fist you turned to water

but I hear the tide sing melodies
that must return

bearing my name in pewter clouds
and silver rushes the word into air

into a sailboat– I see shape
in risen mist

with hope the form lingers

long enough to lead us
to where we need to be

 

(originally published in SHANTIH, Fall 2016)

Plane Delay

You learn your plane
has been delayed
again.

You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or

calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know

the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay

stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like

she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when

it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.

 

(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 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)

Ruins

I.

Bullets ricochet
in every entered home
and they are similar
to ballet, a delicate

do not fall wherever
you cannot stand back up
but pirouette anyway– every room
spins the opposite of you.

II.

Hair on the surface of bleeding
bricks. The house of
violent storms. Mortars
with every step.

III.

Heaven, the insurance premium,
costs far too much.

IV.

We are legless because
we cannot stand. Wingless
because no one believed
we would fly again.

V.

During construction,
no one built us for the long-term.
There are nails in every crook
of skin– every place you look.

 

(originally published in The Black Napkin, Summer 2016)

Night Train in Wait

We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?

Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting

for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you

and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–

with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

Clutching My Stomach in the Bathroom

in front of the mirror wondering
how you made it through those nine months
to get nothing but condensation from a cloud
yes the smiles returned in the desert
when the scythe allowed we spoke truths
and asked everyone to provide thirst
because we were the cacti with reservoirs
of lust and destruction
laid out in desiccate flowerbeds
our wallets filled with zinnias
while we were filled
from the green of living
sometimes we are horses
galloping along dirt paths
and westbound highways
hoping they lead to ocean
but it leads always to night
to hunger
we barely know how to be raw anymore
how to sink dead teeth into apples
and want the core
our thin gums only cling to our mouths
because there’s nowhere else to call home
no more words that can make you
believe in a future

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Summer 2016)