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)

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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)

“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)

The Suburban Wild

In darkness we find a train:
engine active, body inert.
We walk the adjacent rail’s
delineated steel, waiting for a sign.
A spotlight from the city’s purple heart
shoots starward into clear, and the train
barks at something we cannot hear.
We scamper through the brush,
our clothes and hair full of sticks–
strays rising into the cold shadow
of a home, on the hunt
for what will make us whole.

 

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

Pool-Blue

We lounge by the pool
& sink before entering.

Its blue averts new colors.
It’s simple: I don’t know how to love

without drowning,
lungs flooding with chlorine.

I never want to dive into the deep
& forget how to breathe

but I followed & found to love
is to leave your fins on land–

but silent in the deep, lungs
rationing air, I want us never to open

our eyes underwater to find
the pool colorless– that we

will always see the blue
the water does not have.

 

(originally published in GNU Journal, Winter 2017)