Landfill

I am a sitting landfill beef
lettuce special sauce
a sepulchur in my Ford

& in this warm January
the trees are still dead

one eye open I imagine
forests stretching tired
legs & staying silent when it’s time
to speak spring

 

(originally published in KAIROS, 2017)

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Public Urination

I manifest prayer
into the unspoken covenant of suburbia,

the gravel pockmarked by drought,
by time, trickling time. . .

the desert calls its rare waters oasis– so,
purge the monstrous depths of your chosen gorge,

knives outwardly aimed
at some balloon’s held breath–

 

(originally published in Pouch, Spring 2016)

Orchard

in the orchard, a mother drinks rosé, bites
into a granny smith. the other apples
are rotten now, well– autumn
peels history off barks. the trees become
malnourished skeletons, tiny skulls. forget.
over and over. bees gather nectar
and you almost forget to laugh. they pluck
the fruit. too young to remember, too
momentous. one time he played too close
to the hive– well, life isn’t honey, she said,
even if you are mine. finding a diamond
in a diamond mine. hey, that’s still special.
who’s to say if it’s worth anything. all her
jewelry. diamond in her open palm. show
me. oh, how it glistened– no one asks
anymore. she does not want anyone to.

 

(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2016)

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)

Cicadas

The cicadas come at night, after you
fall soundly in the trance of your booklight,
buzzing pages. Forget, there’s no undo.
The cicadas come at night,

arriving several years apart despite
love’s hindwings clung to bark whose heart is true.
We burrow in those pages craving sight

and air and words– we gather in droves to
kiss your hand though you think it is a bite.
We wait years and always return to you.
The cicadas come at night.

 

(originally published in The Road Not Taken, Summer 2016)

My Father Was a Beekeeper

I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.

In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.

He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.

In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.

Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen

to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.

Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando

through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–

honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies

heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)

*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology

Dog on the Patio

Whenever I let the dog out
onto our small back patio
on sunny afternoons
and he lays on familiar brick

scratching his ears,
nose curious and wandering,
I remember my father

who, in the endless days of retirement,
learned the lawn better
than his calloused palms:

every humpbacked tree and drooping limb,
every snake and gopher hole,
every new and fallen anthill,
every cobweb on the lamppost,

where to find toads after rain,
how to catch them–

when he did not strive to create utopia
by chiseling trees into magazine models,

I often found him on a patch
of freshly-mown grass,
scratching his smoky, sun-basked beard,

waiting for the wind to speak,
to say more to him than I ever did.

 

(originally published in Black Elephant Lit, Spring 2016)

“I Wish I Knew How to Quit You,” Says the Moon

We know it is us
who wish to quit the moon.

We close our eyes our jaggedness
could drive the sun away but never
in the way our metaphors could.

Still we write the moonlight
into the sand and growl
at the tide

and again
when the tide returns.

We cry from the shape
our lives took to intersect–

an hourglass
filled with sugar,
or a snail. Or a million

hourglasses, a million snails,
a million glimmering shells
in a measured slowness.

You were talking about the sunrise–
but I never wanted to look.

 

(originally published in Thin Air, Spring 2016)

To Emily (From Angel)

To run away would prove
the wild still within me,

taming that short fence with my claws
to catapult into the trees where birds

and squirrels and spiders sleep alone.
I look starward when you lure me

out among the sparrows. I am no monster
who lurks in twilight, but sometimes

exist memories I never made, when cool air
rushes into me through the window screen

like the moon commanding the tide–

I am not fully water but, like you, an animal embedded
with her feral past– my sisters teach me to hunt,

mice dangling from their mouths that haunt afternoon naps
on your heavy bed– my beautiful sisters never knowing

how it feels to be a princess, gold and pink
tiaras glistening between their royal ears.

I would not belong in those sprawling
forests from my dreams. The hunger

from the wild’s lack of you
would tremble my true heart home

under starlight’s navigation– to here,
where my whiskers graze your calves,

where I am cradled in your arms
in the company of heartbeat:

a sweetness, a tenderness
the feral could never dream of.

 

(Originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)

Blue Digger Bee

do blue digger bees buzz like honey bees do
or like jazz from tinny speakers
the city night starves for jazz
just a little touch finger on palm
yes I am over your plaid cheeks
like physically my eyes are exhausted
the out-of-order escalator will move no further
yes we waded in pastel watercolors
soft peal of wetting paint
temperance of modern rain
kestrels singing in forever air
tints of cerulean debasing the feather coat
deftness of a painter’s hands
what loneliness in the canvas will glimmer in a gallery of twenty-first century still life
that is real
the mixture of white and black paint stain so entwined in the fingers gripped by brush
the challenge of how do you make this Vietnamese-man-sitting-alone-at-a-table as compelling
as a bucket of salt dipping from the sky
I think of a plodding pizzicato on a yellow glass harp
children in red shoes lining up for a king-sized carousel
our teeth are the strings on the replacement years from now
somehow the present is pregnant with the future
somehow my mouth is fanged to nearly ask
fingers hold music that has not been heard
arpeggio flower petals drifting in the wind
umbrage in the gutters
fingernails recycle them into leaves
the digger emerges from sand
and creeps back into its widowed sepulcher

(originally published in Prong & Posy, Issue 2)