Portrait of a Kitchen

Rather, it’s about the void she left
behind– no dirty dishes in the sink,
no hand to move the plates out
from the coffins of the cabinets.
Used to be hot soup was what
we wanted to come home to
when we wanted to come
home, but the chicken rots
in the fridge and even its
memory chokes on
cold forever air

 

(originally published in Poetry Pacific, Fall 2018)

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Last Night’s Bonfire at My Desk

spilled honey clings to black wires
connecting the world my lifeblood
laptop nestled in her shell safe from fingers

goldenrod shirt covers the old burns
the pinewood ashes coat my nostrils
the harsh wind blows crooked conifer to the verge

almost to fracture the window waiting
to kaleidoscope glass a body as canvas
hardwood red lust to cleanse gathering dust

rain pats the chair-infested patio drips of
laughter boomerang from slippery brick
and the blonde coughs from beyond the dark
                                                halls of shed fur & grime

 

(originally published in Freshwater, Spring 2018)

Getting Sober

If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

 

(originally published in Rattle, Winter 2018 – nominated for Best of the Net)

After the Lancaster Beer Festival

I want you to read this:
my night was the endless Niagara.

Love, flowing along sediment
of bones and thorny breathing,

ends on a brown couch of dog
and cat hair nice against my jeans.

I woke there next to a loaded potato gun.
Can’t stop writing dirty things

on the Buddha board
hoping you will read them.

If not you,
anyone.

My bones’ silence
breathes thorns.

And the message always
erases itself.

 

(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)

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)

Back Patio

It’s 8 P.M. and lights hang like eggs
on a string beneath the moon
from the second-floor window
to the wooden fence.

The air conditioner threatens
the chattering insects
with its drone suckling noise
from fading light.

A car door slams. The almost-distant
hum of traffic. Sirens occasionally
dot red the air, causing the dogs
in the neighborhood to howl.

What does anyone mean
when they say animal?
Outside I am one
with the wild.

Beyond vine-green, breathing
fence I hear a basketball
bounced, tossed, missed,
dropped.

Whomever is playing must be lost
in thought, making calculations
of which he is unaware,
surviving in one way he knows.

 

(originally published in CultureCult Magazine, 2017)

An Oncoming Train

We waddled over grates along train tracks
on a bridge above the river until a trembling
warned of what would come: soon, one of us
will leave the other. Running to safety in flip-
flops, it would not matter how it felt when
we held each other after stumbling off rail into
field because you said you finally found a thing
I’m scared of: the in-between of tracks. Heart
beating odds with brain. As the train passed,
horns blaring, you spoke something I could not
hear when we hugged as each car blurred forward
until we became a quiver, a silence, a kiss of
faded smoke dragging steel beyond the hills.

 

(originally published in Four Ties Lit Review, Fall 2017)

The Sunflower Field in Yellow Springs

was full and yellow in summer
but we arrived in autumn
when the sunflowers were withered
and drooping brown
to the ground
stem necks snapped perhaps slowly
and knowing nothing of summer
we lost our sense of fall
and we joked maybe someone
came to kill them all
but the local bookseller said
it’s just too late to grow
so we wandered past closed
shop after closed shop
thinking about the lovely things
we heard this town would offer
but knowing the dead sidewalks
with each lonely step
it was only talk

 

(originally published in The Write Place at the Write Time, Fall 2017)

Syzygy

We collected enough spacedust
to build a story, and so began
ours. I sought ways to learn
you: almanacs, online astronomy
classes, science fiction novels.
You were a constellation
to call my own. Time wore
on, and light from an ex-lover
reached you. Your position
in the sky changed. You
moved no closer. I bought
a telescope you admired
for awhile. Said you liked
the way I looked at you. Here
I thought I was the only one
you gleamed for. I asked
for your coordinates. You said
no matter where you went,
you would always be brighter
by the other star.

 

(originally published in Halfway Down the Stairs, Summer 2017)