False Alarm

Street sweeping
happens irregularly
around here. Every
three months then
you forget about it.
I’ve been off and on in love
with my roommate since the
day she moved in. November
rain, the red-bricked road,
I look out my window–
no cars on the side
of the street I parked on.
I scramble from my room,
her boyfriend in the hallway,
and I yell street cleaning!
His eyes bug up
and we race down
stairs to beat the tow
trucks but I open the door
to see cars parked around mine.
I tell him I’m going anyway
to check the signs
which I do in my blue
flip-flops, waddling out into
wet grass to find
next week’s the sweeping–
and don’t we always
wait yet another week
to cleanse ourselves of what
we fear we don’t need?
A bad job
or incompatible lover.
For months they have fought
about necessary changes
neither of them will make,
and just last week
she told me
the cycle of her life
goes in years by threes.
The job, the lover,
the house, the dust.
There’s a chill. I’m not wearing
a jacket, so I go back inside
and tell him it’s next week
but he’s known this for weeks.

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)

On the Walk to the Polling Place

Some birds zigzag
below shrapnel clouds
and others, perched
on limbs, chatter
about migration
in this chill
because the leaves
in your yard
are a different shade
than your neighbor’s,
but each tree
casts its own
ballot into earth
and waits
for the season
to change.
Scrunching
all the dead
beneath your boots
along the way
to the church
with the cookies
and machines,
you pass big,
brick houses
with American flags
and jack-o-lanterns’
sunken smiles
on porch steps
and city workers
who have been
fixing power lines,
building structures,
patching roads
for so many months,
and so many months
to go.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Fall 2017)

Landscapes

pray to the clay
and snow
there are canyons
cratered in our hearts
not every landscape
is refined each is full
of fingerprints and colors
undefined through
every ridge
the sandstone
in her face you will find
who you are looking for
in any landscape the forests
your father the mountains
your mother the shifting
desert sand tombs
are caverns you must lose yourself
in memories and forget
the horizon no one
seems so far away
beside the ocean

 

(originally published in Uppagus, Fall 2017)

Staying at Ben’s Apartment

was sad. The bathroom garbage bin
was empty except for a milky bag,
a milky bag. I spent a few days
staring at walls that lacked art, clocks,
plaques– wayward whites. I searched
the swinging ceiling fan for meaning,
its light hanging even as the nightmares
swirled and buoyed my sleep. On that
first midnight, I received an email
from Ema to confirm our petals had withered.
Desiccate yet still green somehow I slept
and slept and slept not anxious for the sun’s
return or its return to me, not that it did
for a while. I looked for this midnight whisper
days later to question again our phantoms,
sprinting through Gmail plains of text, but no,
this was a phantom, too. I whispered e-m-a with
my fingers into the search thus yielded darlings,
xoxo starlings and chains that floated from the
screen’s waterfall out into eternity, tethered
to the runoff running to that unknown place
where even phantoms go to die.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse Magazine, spring 2016)

Clothes on the Bed

the room infiltrates us / fabrics and hangers / bedroom who is this / who are you i / don’t want you / to leave / i / haze / the fog / machine whirs / the pillow / smells like morning / orange banana strawberry / smoothie sweat old / and citrus / the blender whirred / like the black drawer / pulled in and / out / the routine is / the blue / sheet draped / stained forever / the blue / digital alarm / never woke us / sit / sit / black leggings / where are you going / healthy healthy / we draw lines / the visible line / the horizon / with those smoky faraway / buildings / the end is / never coming / we cannot see it / from where we sit

 

(originally published in The Legendary)