Arcade Bar

The movement
neither initiated.
The joysticks dance
in orchestral unison,
taking turns missing
the light on the screen.
The proximity advantage
of cooperation.
Our feather jackets brushed
and the crowd howled around us,
moved in herds – an infinite number
of lives in which to press
the red kick button. Not a red
exit. Not to drink water in excess
of the salt, shake it over,
shake your damn hands and clap
once, clap twice, shiver in the
thorn-wine applause– let us
shiver within our bones.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin, Spring 2018)

Vibration of a Single Degree

When a system is given
an initial input of velocity,

it will vibrate freely
upon release. The ground

will undergo occasional
displacement. In running,

we invite earthquakes
with periodic force. In leaving,

the engine drives
with rising speeds.

In real systems, energy
dissipates. The system damps,

often unnoticeably. When friction
ends, the memories displace,

and your face becomes
a jumbled mess of cables,

of mouths in wired eyes
so tangled by the heart.

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Fall 2017)

Dry Lips

the stream
       parched

the heart
       lips

the lung
       lips

the light
       dark

the night
       parched

the night
       lips

the lung
      dark

the stream
      heart

the lips
      heart

the heart
      always

      parched

(originally published in Off the Coast, Fall 2017)

Fidget Spinner

Place the ring around your finger.
Let it spin. Pretend, for once,

that something can attain
perpetual motion. You drive back-

country roads to leave a life behind
yet miss the destined exit. Consider

the spin of the Earth, the galaxy,
the universe. At what point does

longing end? There are always
voids to fill, vast pits of fruit

you would savor if you could
stay still enough to love

a person.

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Fall 2017)

Tea

the kettle sings I sift the mint
from your leaves become morning
branches inhale steam tethered to
white string high held by fingers
that’ll dig too much into bark
rotting wood from childhood
a treehouse built with dirt hands
and axe planked into core of
every fragile oak soon to fall

 

(originally published in Common Ground Review, Spring 2018)

I’m Fine

I’m with Lex at Lockview
ordering tomato soup because
I just got out of a relationship.

I tell him I’m fine, though he never asked.
The bowl arrives alongside my Kentucky Bourbon
Barrel Ale. I slurp red and talk loudly

for the cute girl at the table behind me
wearing all black– we made eye contact
waiting for tables between entrance and exit–

she doesn’t hear me, probably,
but my friend watches me cremate crackers
over the bowl to spoon the goo inside.

He says slow down but I say life moves
fast– hell, I ingested magic mushrooms
after leaving my ex’s place then Lex

asks our waitress for his grilled cheese
without mushrooms and the waitress asks for menus
but I hand her my bowl and say take it please

take it then tell her I’m fine and it was wonderful
being in my house alone after this happened standing
on the kitchen table beside the silver chandelier

lined with black mold and dirt and how
I waited for anyone to come home
and no one did so I kept standing.

 

(originally published in OVS Magazine, 2017)

After the Lancaster Beer Festival

I want you to read this:
my night was the endless Niagara.

Love, flowing along sediment
of bones and thorny breathing,

ends on a brown couch of dog
and cat hair nice against my jeans.

I woke there next to a loaded potato gun.
Can’t stop writing dirty things

on the Buddha board
hoping you will read them.

If not you,
anyone.

My bones’ silence
breathes thorns.

And the message always
erases itself.

 

(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)

Brushing

As I run hot faucet water
over the head of my electric toothbrush,
Jennifer asks isn’t it better
when we brush our teeth together?

This, of course, is redundant.

I have cleaned the spit
and foam from my brush alone
through the years,
watched clean water slowly spiral
down a clog.

I have taken better care
of myself.

Flossed the plaque
between memories,
tartar of bad habits,
freshened breath
in and out of you.

These I can withstand.

Thus I answer at all.

Caterpillars

I watched us turn into centipedes,
not butterflies– tiny legs to run
pushed out of us, not wings.
In half-moon light we crawled
the hollow ridges of our bodies.
Someday, we thought. Children.
But it was true: neither of us knew
how to bloom. We kept scratching
at the other’s skin digging
for the beating heart
but only exposed the blood.

 

(originally published in The Quiet Letter, Summer 2017)

Like a Penny on a Sidewalk

I used to find joy in little things.

Like luck on the head
of a penny.

Or a tire chained
to a blue wall
in the subway.

Or two bullets,
no gun.

Or your glance
on long drives
beside the ocean.

I feel ill. I declare this heaven’s day.

No fool was a folk legend tragedy.
No fool a fish on a hook
reeled from the lake.

Tomorrow my hand leaves
your palm.

Your name, claws
on the four-drink ignition.

White rose– consider
a wing. Next, a thumb.

Voices, skies so blue…

I’d find your eyes play music.

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, Winter 2017)