Half

to cut immigration
is to cut me half

-Filipino I am already
halved quartered diced you take

a knife to my mother she keeps
a knife at her neck we both are

American in the blade of the word
I used to pretend to be more

my more-accepted half
to have to choose

is to have nothing

 

(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)

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Dogs

i know it’s the other way around
but i see the dogs in people

that intense hunger of waiting
by a wooden door so close to the thrust of opening

i want to eat the walls that keep you away
the doorknob you twist to leave
the blankets you always hide beneath

i hold my waste for hours
the measured discipline

when you speak your breath is memory
what you’ve consumed
i can’t look anywhere else

push me away i cling to you a vestige
of humanity is all remains the last living thing
who would love me

you and your bureaucratic affection
the withholding of every emotion
makes you vulnerable

i was born to want you by my side

you
my lamb
my wishbone
between teeth

like a star holds to gravity
before its collapse

some adherence to light
before the drift

the absolute zero of desire
far from the wild where
we were raised to want

close to where we want to be

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)

All the Bulbs are Burning Out

I am scared to death
of death.

Not just the big death
but tiny deaths, too.

All the bulbs are burning out
in my house one by one.

In living, we accrue small darknesses.

Mirror to mirror: void
where my eyes should be.

Hung mauve towel.
Vines of black mold.

Plastic ringlets steady
stained curtain infinity.

The silver shower faucet was once
a sunflower dreamed of fluorescence.

Now, downpour, no bright
for every prayer.

Gallons of black shower
(plead with God just–).

Gobs of

gobs and gobs of hair
cling to the drain.

Genuflect in the porcelain pitter-patter.

A feedback loop of weeps.

Hot water, cold water,
no water.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

Nomads

I know you want to leave, to take a bus
out of Columbus, to fight your battle
in Seattle, or Denver, or wherever
your heart may lead–

to be a nomad is to go
where the landscape dreams,
and to scrunch it all in your hand
like wisps of dandelion in the wind,

and in your palm its feathery white
is dissolution–

however far you go, know those you meet
will occupy the rooms in the tiny hostel
of your heart, sharing wisdom and laughter
despite however many days we spend apart.

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Dead Bugs in the Light Fixture

from bed we stared upward
at dead bugs in the light fixture

dark spots scattered so motionless
at the foot of what blinds and allures

you said I’m not going to remove them
I mentioned the blinds were parted this entire time

you said a homeless man lives across the street
but the cold and snow would prevent anyone from watching

the light was dimmed
neither of us intended escape

I learned a stinkbug can withstand temperatures
of negative twenty I had tossed one into snow

and it froze meaning its heart turned cold
in an instant and I expect it to

the shell lifeless and its own
dark spot in the snow

the walls were already painted olive
you said you could live with that

we guessed the time and now past midnight
you hadn’t done your reading for the morning

so I returned to the salted road
cruising past dark snow

and trees no cars
no other lights

for miles just ice
just cold just frosts

and frozen bugs
expecting spring

to bring some kind of meaning

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit)

American Prayer

Why did an apple tree
grow in my backyard?
That’s where the swimming
pool was supposed to go.

I ask not for much.

A well-placed tornado, maybe.
Another plague, perchance,
to rot its every root.

Then a demon, perhaps.
Lucifer the Lumberjack,
chainsaw in hand,
could tempt the tree
with Eve, eat its fruits,
then chop it down, though
trees don’t love women
like I do.

Look, I know it’s not practical.
Jesus didn’t wear a crown of thorns
from an apple tree
but I bear a malus cross
and don’t want to give money
to a heathen
who cuts down
a tree for me.
I could do that by myself,
if I really wanted to. I really
want to buy that pool.

I’m tired of the silence.
I know it’s easier for you
to use your superpowers
to turn the tree into a Bible
that smells like a chomped-in
red delicious. If you do that
I will sue you.

 

(originally published in Cake & Grapes – Vol. I, Issue II)