The Christmases That Were Forever

my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
after we got jobs.

 

(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2017)

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Five Minutes: Rain

Thunder
was the memory–
booming in bloom
I take
without giving
you petals.
With mist lifting
off Lake Dardanelle,
I ask
what it means
to be new–
so young was the fog
the mind’s cleaver sliced.

 

(originally published in The Quiet Letter, Summer 2017)

Reading Through an Old Journal

Work. Sex. Tacos. My everyday experiences
recorded in detail. Life now is a notebook
in which I don’t write anything down.

The callus on my middle finger used to be
stained with 2 A.M. ink after my days fluttered
vividly into pages before sleep. In one entry,

I recount a dream with my friend Alyse where
we’re in a forest digging morning soil
shouting, save the earth! save ourselves!

Today I sit with laptop at the mantle
of my past, sipping hot coffee to thaw
the winter-frozen ground of yesterday.

 

(originally published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Summer 2017)

Look Up in Summer

give me cloud weaved tan
& brown & pill yes
to gulp down my throat
& make will the ill of my body

give pasture & clay &
another day to call mom
she walks dusty trails alone
in May in wind in sigh
& goodbye

give ghosts to call clouds
& memories of dad proud
of young farming days
me sitting in the plow

along the way the sky changed
& cast fishing nets to catch
the dead alive in my head

 

(originally published in The Blackstone Review, Summer 2017)

Background Actors

At the foot of the staircase to the stars–
in the back of the line of actors drunken
from delusion (I’m going to make it),
each of us with hands full of hangers,
heads full of the fame
that glimpses a star, a familiar face,
how we chosen ones flicker
on living room screens
of friends and families–
a blip, a blur so brief
we were almost never there at all.

 

(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Winter 2017)

Sunny Days

In memory of Chris Hull

friends don’t
wait for rainy days
to die
there is never
a metaphor
in the weather
the sun laughs
as it always does
when I receive the call
I find the nearest tree
to brace myself
with shade
it’s the only darkness
seventy-six degrees
warm breeze
the car
approaching the hospital
still takes her living
to work
at being alive

 

(originally published in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spring 2017)

Fog

We inhaled fog on the Golden Gate
along with traffic exhaust.
Foghorns cried names
we did not recognize.
Car horns, names we gave ourselves.
From this high, you said, there is no good
way to fall. We scrunched our fingers
to encapsulate the small
fragility fog brings– how, in a moment,
everything can change / fog
of ghosts rippling waves from long-
passed boats / fog of sitting in silence,
windows down / fog of steel cable’s
fading red / fog of missing
what we lost while sun cuts a way

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

Max’s Porch

we’re on a playground of mosquitos
finding poems about space and math
to read because his brother’s in town
and he’s an idealistic futurist
so they trade science poems
and smoke and dreams (a glass
of water the tides of Lake Erie)
I ask which Little Caesar’s location
is your favorite all time (five dollar
orange brown cardboard. gas
station lighters burning thumbs)
everyone answers the one in my hometown
and we’re 1997 sitting in a mildew basement
sketching cartoons in blue binders on greasy
carpets full of the future waiting for the future
and mallards in the pond sing all wing and trouble
hoping for something to disturb the water
so they can fly

 

(originally published in Pouch)