Brushing

As I run hot faucet water
over the head of my electric toothbrush,
Jennifer asks isn’t it better
when we brush our teeth together?

This, of course, is redundant.

I have cleaned the spit
and foam from my brush alone
through the years,
watched clean water slowly spiral
down a clog.

I have taken better care
of myself.

Flossed the plaque
between memories,
tartar of bad habits,
freshened breath
in and out of you.

These I can withstand.

Thus I answer at all.

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Caterpillars

I watched us turn into centipedes,
not butterflies– tiny legs to run
pushed out of us, not wings.
In half-moon light we crawled
the hollow ridges of our bodies.
Someday, we thought. Children.
But it was true: neither of us knew
how to bloom. We kept scratching
at the other’s skin digging
for the beating heart
but only exposed the blood.

 

(originally published in The Quiet Letter, Summer 2017)

Mid-December

The alley is paved with old bricks
blackened by rain. I used to want

conformity, that tidal hope gripping
your gut. You must have a family soon.

Everywhere babies are sprouting
but garden sprinklers are off because winter

is near, crackled dirt longing for storm–
how long since the rough of gale and rain?

Seasons, in these frigid airs. And my seedling
heart stopped growing soon after its first beat.

 

(originally published in The Coachella Review, Winter 2017)

Warmth

I want to fold the dog
into an origami pipe
smoke it
and forget this
was ever a dog

later I will want
this dog nestled
next to me
asleep
fire lingering

instead I
fold creases
into blanket
wrapping
out the cold

I can’t shake
but for what
it takes
to sleep
through dawn

 

(originally published in Succor, 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)

Eggs

I cracked an egg
with a butcher’s knife
watching yolk seep
yellow cracked surface
rough on my hands
two halves and a spill
in the sink
I have a whole
carton little hopes
silent things never
living never words
I open
each heart to beat
to whisk to swirl
and wish a tornado
in this bowl of force
and gale in golden
pool in cauldron pan
and spatula pressing
hard over white turned
head caked edges
center sliced over
all this heat blackened
burnt but good
enough to eat

 

(originally published in SPANK the CARP, 2017)

Horoscope – May 12, 2017

You generally enjoy your dreams, Taurus,
but not this last one in which your lover
invites her Iowan ex to your house

and they wear your jeans while
you yell at cabinets of lipstick. There
are layers of red on each wall’s face

and you run outside after her
Honda yelling at its exhaust
along cornfields of mid-America.

Meanwhile, in real life, you
two have yet to get in a fight.

Maybe you should do that soon.

 

(originally published in Yes, Poetry, 2017)