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)

Warmth

I want to fold the dog
into an origami pipe
smoke it
and forget this
was ever a dog

later I will want
this dog nestled
next to me
asleep
fire lingering

instead I
fold creases
into blanket
wrapping
out the cold

I can’t shake
but for what
it takes
to sleep
through dawn

 

(originally published in Succor, 2017)

An Oncoming Train

We waddled over grates along train tracks
on a bridge above the river until a trembling
warned of what would come: soon, one of us
will leave the other. Running to safety in flip-
flops, it would not matter how it felt when
we held each other after stumbling off rail into
field because you said you finally found a thing
I’m scared of: the in-between of tracks. Heart
beating odds with brain. As the train passed,
horns blaring, you spoke something I could not
hear when we hugged as each car blurred forward
until we became a quiver, a silence, a kiss of
faded smoke dragging steel beyond the hills.

 

(originally published in Four Ties Lit Review, Fall 2017)

The Return

There is no tender way to say
our years apart were bedbugs
crawling along our skin
the further apart we moved
and crawled these barefoot floors
at the fragile hanging cord of lust
and painted portraits shades
of aluminum sunsets til dusk
drinking red wine to fall
again, and again, and–
there was no tender way
to leave and no tender way
uncorked to watch the final
seasons of idealism in how
we’d lay but never think
of what would happen should
one day we choose the dark.

 

(originally published in The Icarus Anthology, Summer 2017)

Horoscope – May 12, 2017

You generally enjoy your dreams, Taurus,
but not this last one in which your lover
invites her Iowan ex to your house

and they wear your jeans while
you yell at cabinets of lipstick. There
are layers of red on each wall’s face

and you run outside after her
Honda yelling at its exhaust
along cornfields of mid-America.

Meanwhile, in real life, you
two have yet to get in a fight.

Maybe you should do that soon.

 

(originally published in Yes, Poetry, 2017)