We Will Pour and Pour

In our Euripidean illness
we thought the apocalypse belonged
to no one when, in fact, the tragedy was
collective.

A tethered shoestring at the feet of all the boys
here– a long intestine packed.
                               And we were a puddle drinking
rain past the lips of cement until we sank into sleep

and how what we hid in our hearts was money,
blood pulsing green through shadowy veins
the cardiovascular surgeon broke his fingers trying to fix.

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)

Can’t Stop Coughing

I binge-take extra-strength cough
drops with gooey menthol centers

having come home from Thanksgiving
earlier than expected

temperatures in the 30s
a shrill turn in the wind

no one outside
but to yell at dogs

men summoning phlegm
hack away at progress

here I sit
alone loudly

perched against white
pillows dry-throated

the medicine kicks in
allows me to speak up

to silence the wall’s tongue
a quiet my body loves

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

Root Canal

I.

the overhead light is a python shining into my eyes
this office is hissing: drills, rotors, a hanging
S at the end of a passing sentence.
they have taken so many x-rays
of my mouth these past few weeks

there the infected tooth stares back
in its gray and black graveyard,
deep in its flaw

II.

the doctor numbs me with needle
puts a cloth in my mouth, a cape
to make my face a superhero.
it’s an uncomfortable placebo
makes me think of super-strength
defense as she scythes the pulp out of me

III.

the doctor says god,
this is a pulp boulder

I have been looking toward heaven
digging and scraping many silent minutes

IV.

a drill

bats squeal and fly from the cave of my tooth

V.

the assistant tag-team switches for
a different assistant

the doctor says we’re finally getting somewhere

on the radio:
like a virgin. touched for the very first time

VI.

the scent of bone

or blood

or gum

or healing

VII.

the assistant says she visited the chickens last week
cute as dickens

I learn chickens have no bladders
and no bone marrow

and here I hold my urine

VIII.

the doctor tells me open wide
shoving cotton in my mouth

shout, shout, let it all out

IX.

they’re trying to figure out the actress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
the doctor holds a scalpel over my mouth
the name at the tip of her tongue

After an eternity I offer
Hahdrey Hehurn

I did my part

they’re proud
and there are no complications

 

(originally published in Off the Coast, Fall 2017)

R+X

the pharmacist
in her white coat
behind the coffin counter

instructed me to call the one-
eight-hundred number

but one plus eight equals nine
and nine is the first number
in nine-one-one
and there are two zeroes
in one-eight-hundred and
two ones in nine-one-one
and if you rotate the number
it’s a four-story building
crooked at the hollow nest
and what of the four
zero floors –
the barren families, pine
and needle. They scrape and dial
my throat’s frigid tones,
white shell.

I chewed my gum and thought,
what a pleasant sound ducks’ feet must make
when they waddle.
soft-boiled trampolines.