High Street Construction

The busiest road in Columbus is an obstacle course: orange cones
and road closeds (open to local traffic only). Here, in the heart
of Ohio, we build by tearing down. A red crane leaps and a small
business closes, resurrects as Target– bullseye– the suit, the lipstick.

Soon you, too, will not be able to afford to live here. The remodeled
library is threatened by the bones across the street: a nine-story
building in the midst of construction. Wind whips plastic
bags that hang from its scaffolds and I see the ghost–

the restaurant in its wake. Dark clouds
gather above, knowing they, too, have displaced.

 

(originally published in Literary Orphans, 2018)

What We Talk About When We Talk About

Pepper burned my mouth
and all I could think of
in that salivated flame
was you telling me your tongue
no longer felt the heat
of a moment: meaningless
sex– bite and garment
here between the green
walls of your zen room
your small goldfish
swimming in circles–
submerged flame and hunger
for love so intense
I flicker poems to you
thumbs on lighters
waiting for the matchbook
to catch– combed pomade
hair, designer jeans, and wit–
what I want is origami
and fire– instead
we talk about love
but unlike Raymond Carver
we have nothing
more to say.

 

(originally published in Words Dance, Summer 2017)

Kurt Says There Is No Such Thing as Information Loss

You can recover anything. If you can’t,
you will. What you seek exists
but has left for the black hole of knowledge
steady at the center of the galaxy.
You will become a different person,
renovate the house but keep the windows.
You will find a new lover but process
bits of data still there– the comparisons
and air hurtle toward end-time, the end
line unquantifiable by any metrics of the heart,
of time complete and incomplete starts.
There is a long black hair lodged in your beard
from a lover though the body has moved on.
You forget the names of things you know
but know what they are, how you can have mind
without soul but no soul without mind.
You can live a new life
without losing the old.

 

(originally published in the hour after happy hour, Fall 2017; also published in The Cadaverine Magazine)

“A Man Bears Beliefs as a Tree Bears Apples”

 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

pleading with a red delicious begging god for good
even though I cannot process Jesus I still chew and
spit seed and you walk over the guts of me with your
shoes on sidewalk in the sweltering August of laying
in grass whispering love between dandelions so much
we’re sprouting from dirt in ugly ways all thorn
and bloom overgrown with each other there are
no gloved hands around anymore to pull us out

 

(originally published in Bluestem, Spring 2017)

Warehouse Beach

The warehouse art gallery could never be mistaken for the beach,
even as curators charade sand across the dancefloor,
make us remember desire. Violins strike the throbbing air
with an electronic pulse, a horsehoof beat activating

the summer IPAs we drank beforehand to create
our summer selves. It ends. You end. At home later on
we watch documentaries where owls hunt forests for prey.
I pray we will soar but never hungry above branches.

Mostly I pray for our hearts to not be plucked raw, how stranded
and helpless we can feel in a new town while the world whirls
a thousand miles per hour– we stumble through sliding landscapes–
sand on concrete wails for sun, for sunset wind to whip

through industrial, unfinished interiors. We dance, or run,
until light draws herself from the ocean’s muted stone.

(originally published in Crack the Spine, Winter 2016)

Long Beach

from a high rooftop after rain,
headlights lead their drivers
to safety in a grid of electricity;
slick, mighty towers surround
and glisten from orange streetlights;
the harbor, an unending cascade
of dreams painted
in reflected, rippling stars–

you can hear, from outside the metro,
a shrieking man in an aureolin raincoat,
several hurried severities of shoes
clopping on sidewalks

still I will tell you the city is beautiful
when far enough away to never see
imperfection

and I’ll hold you close,
hands clasping your ears,
our own static to block
distractions which, for the beauty
of this moment, do not matter–

 

(originally published in Random Poem Tree, February 2016)

Caesura

Every road has a finite end, just mud and sky, daytime
if you’re lucky, night looming beyond the paling horizon.

Maybe there is a barren tree, branches dancing
to a slow sonata, a love song only the two of you

know, the earth calmly listening. If you can plant
your naked feet into the ground, you will hear

the earth hum as it spins faster than you will ever
move, and though it always seems like stasis, you hope

it never stops, remains a puzzle
merely a misstep from disarray.

 

(originally featured in Common Ground Review, Vol. XVII, Issue II)

Workday

pure coffee pleasure
drinking work travels
camping parties get-
togethers at work when
the printer is jammed i
move the tray until the
deadlines variegating
ironic pleasures and
cogs who do not turn
sleep when moving
uninterrupted clear
jars have a shine that
lights carburetor engines
grasping understated harmonies
in Kevlar mugs in which
infested apples seek light
order menially crisscrossing
borders of yellow shades
mashing front-up wonderful
mistakes marketing harmonica-
maudlin skaters receipt
upon leaves and green
greens until the market
crashes and crashes and seventeen
times i heard Pop-Secret popcorn
pop in the breakroom microwave

 

(originally published in Chronopolis, No. 3 – October 31, 2014)