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)

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Rebirths

I want a mountain
to sprout
in this Midwest,
to wake and find
a seed of good
in looking up.
I want to drive
a nail
into these clouds,
then sew its holes
to hold the rains
imperfectly
released.

 

(originally published in Right Hand Pointing, Summer 2017)

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)

Disturbances

autumn’s scarlet
stopped telling truths

long before
her collapsed desire

was in Buddha’s
outspread hands

winds of prayer change
as seasons pass

to the lost mantles
of our mouths’

amplified thoughts
we no longer have

 

(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Winter 2017)

Observations from the Westside Pavilion Bridge

I.

stationary at the couch by the window over the street the cars move unseen beneath me in lines in some complex order that means they don’t crash into each other    the sound of engines is replaced with repetitive 4/4 pop music snare singer pleading for her lover to return but in Los Angeles   who do you return to

II.

locks click from storefront doors a Chinese family appears from behind the off-white pillar the mother in loose pink flowy shirt and dress takes a photo in front of the window her daughter in a white-and-red striped shirt her husband in a blue-and-pink striped shirt so much pink so many binding stripes and the mother captures that lone moment  the sky a tender backdrop

III.

a grandma walks a black stroller and makes a soft kind of train noise shh guh shh guh in syncopated beats as she travels in circles    the rolling sound of the stroller-like luggage in an airport    constant whir    her mouth a muted hi-hat to some imaginary beat on her third pass-by   the baby in pink stirs and she stops her mouth’s percussion and tends to the baby who is quiet but lifts her arm in the air   silhouette to the window of the world    cookies and cream   loose leggings

IV.

a man in his fifties eats macha ice cream alone near Dillard’s   walks in front of a blonde man in a cowboy hat water bottle in hand tying his shoelaces      the ice cream man on the other side of the window underneath the Westside Center sign stares at his reflection     he moves from the window bits of cone now lodged in his graying mustache

V.

the green palms reflected on the speckled cream floor    ripples in a pond blow so gently     outside a man with twenty hands and countless fingers     dances and puppeteers

VI.

two Mexican women with glowing purses hanging on their right shoulder walk in near-unison   one just a half-step ahead until the fast one stops to fix her shoe before walking into Nordstrom glass door squealing open       at its most open it sounds like a bad brake on a car      the other keeps walking

VII.

older man in a reddish shirt has a chocolate cone at 11:45pm   stands on the wide black stripe on the floor in front of the imposing silver pillar that splits in the middle like a buttcrack     he stands    licking staring forward at TVs     that advertise movies now playing in the theaters of his daydreams

VIII.

half of the iPhone billboard outside would be indiscernible    half white space stubs of fingers touching green fabric in a lazy V the space below it a half-globe of nothing   the squeaking of shoes slowly silence the man in blue beneath as he does not even notice I watch as he tucks his manila folder under his left armpit

IX.

mountains are indiscernible from buildings in the distance     curved with specks of white that hint at strange windows or a deepening mist that seem to want to envelop the rest of us    and how do we know it won’t

X.

a faraway pedestrian timidly crosses the intersection illegally   she slows but proceeds   and from my vantage point she crosses to the smell of the soy in the pad see ew that steams in front of me

XI.

the light which hangs above these walls of shades of gray is latticed in spiderweb    I cannot tell if the gentle sway-shaking is imaginary  or earthquake  all these little triangles hovering jittering above me   I wonder if this is how the universe actually moves   or what it truly looks like

XII.

upside-down reflections of walking legs move as the inverse of walking and sway with a sexy air voluminous breeze parting    moving away in a regal but  aimless sashay

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Two-Year Lovesong

and the tide comes and goes like my foot in and out of the water lowering the gate to oblivion i hold your hand in highest regard in the pantheon we were regal all the modern day utensils utilized today a kind of balled rain if you can hold it without it dissipating you are the master of the clouds a red ladder leading to the top of mount everest where one will never rest among the cozy mattresses i almost assign an acadian victory holding loose the lips of passion and allowing everyone roam free

and the castle moat which floats in some space between imagination and fantasy holds to the gabardine moon just a flick of the lighter away on some space runway eternal light rushing some unmatchable beauty is found in the absence of all other light some unimaginable thing the first time you experience sunshine after birth your first kiss at a high school dance the music swaying both of you two mouths pressed against each other full of the moon like some wakeful sleep how it is as memory

(initially published in an alternate form in The Open Mouse)

Drunken Rambling from the Coast

A former friend said to me, I’m jealous of your whimsical life.
I haven’t stopped drinking since I was in a hotel room
with his wife, my feet kneading red, chalklike carpet,
their honeymoon’s pall a dim, amber light. She said

you need Vitamin D, Sunshine. I made a habit
of overdosing on the sun. Tell me again what I need.
I had yet to unpeel friendship’s pear with my lips–
and sink. I danced with her months before

at The Viper Room, my shirt half-clipped. I could not stop
thinking about how we might fit under the drunken moon:
her candles the flares in a darkening room, wax trickling
with no end, the rose-like incense rotting the room…

I read an article claiming that remembering
a memory is like saving a JPEG–
each time you remember, the image pixelates
a little more until it blurs beyond recognition.

It was dark when it happened. We were drinking.
Streetlights cast orange bars on the bed through
window blinds while we slipped hungrily
from existence. Her face was a spade

but we felt like the garden, digging deeply
into ourselves until we became an open cemetery.

***

I drink screwdrivers to feel the acid on my tongue,
feeling better since fleeing to the bay’s foggy shores.
I make stops to study the water at each chilly beach,
every heave of the tide as clear as the last–

and as frenzied– her arm reaches into the sand
closer and closer to pull me in, have one last good look
at me to ensure I disappear, if I’m not already gone.
I have my flask. The sunset. Miles of winding road.

Memories to fade, to make, to fade.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse, Spring 2016)

Mia Khalifa

Life imitates art in the way
memory imitates life– your face

reminds me of my last swollen
laughter held. Sometimes

there is no comparison– oh, we’ll rise
from geysers with sulphur still

in our fabrics– loose, blue threads
hanging at the maw.

We disassociate and wish
to converge into stars on a single strand

of light–
I remember that copper smell

of a new roll of pennies,
when fifty cents meant more than

being half of something
not quantifiable at all.

 

(originally published in Pouch, Issue #6)

Following a Trip to the L.A. Zoo

wear sunscreen you’ll thank me faster

do not come to me bearing ailments

it was just yesterday gifts of topaz and corundum your ring-fingers will dance will light over penny slot screens aplomb

some shared jackpot of drunkenness

or worse

sparks from fireflies in the Georgia summer floating flickering stars lightly humming

when a hum turns into a birdcall we whistle like sparrows on a branch

twigs in our talons we offer to the other

twinkle of the moon through the swaying branches above

voices like an owl-song who

are we to hover over the other’s hopes who

will pinch us find we are composed of feathers too raggedy to summon the strength

fingers meekly bristle against your cheek soft as the whirring of the window fan we drift to sleep

so California is the drought I cannot feel it devoid of breathing like a sandstorm

California someday drifts into the Pacific I am my own island thirsting for wet soil

your cotton-morning taste will itself someday drift

 

 

(originally published by The Virginia Normal)