Atmosphere

What you do say is prayer don’t burn and die
when passing through the atmosphere.

Yet, somehow, meteoroids do–
though sand-sized, they have bodies

like bullets, sometimes
copper, sometimes steel.

We’re talkin’ heaven’s ammo,
a hundred tons pounding Earth each day

unnoticed. Down here, you claim
able to speak with some cosmic, faraway force

you’ve never met while keeping closed your mouth.
You claim telepathy, so this telepathic ability

how your thoughts move healing this world
of the aftermath of bodies. Tell me:

how does God respond?
And you say God,

God protects the faithful.

So, God’s His own meteorites
cratering His house, hallelujah.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, Winter 2018)

Cheez-It®

for now cheap breakable wheat is my bible okay

I’ve been in this basement for three days

etc. etc.

orange skies in the psalms of your dimples
(my throat is parched…)

it’s simple          open your palms

for your mouth

you could fit needles in these holes
                                                       constellations in these holes

should’ve put those tiny strings of stars
in my cart to bide my time

instead of sacks of snacks
to fill                                           & fill myself

until I rip open my last plastic head

dust volcanoes       until my eyes bleed Sunshine red

my fingertips          light & salted tiger sticks

my preacher says Jesus won’t eat Cheez-Its

I believe crumbs
lodged in teeth will return in three days

 

(originally published in Unlikely Stories Mark VI, Fall 2017)

DAPL

buffalo roam
the sacred land

pipes and protestors
clank and clash

signs

God in front of the lens
smiling gold teeth

cup of reservoir water
in hand (with straw)

I did this
he boasts

god
isn’t it beautiful

the way people rally
sinking ships

a river knows
only the land

it flows through

 

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2018)

Olive Garden

On the way home from my first Passover
with your family we stop at an Olive Garden

in flyover country, where the waitress tells us
Happy Easter and, when you tell her we forgot

but still want angel hair, she jokes her last
table mistook pesto for alfredo. Sometimes

people confuse one god for another but never
their own, and food is ours– Jesus rising

with the dough of endless breadsticks
descending like ten plates of plagues, first-born

bastards in baskets we need no hunt to find
lest our mouths become black holes absorbing

absurd sanctities of tradition. Separately,
the Garden was where our families would gather

on intermittent nights to write our own Haggadahs
or speak sins of rock stars or mysteries

of faith. Afikomans for truth, perhaps, but instead
of matzo an endless bowl of a salad of words

in which we always beg for more
forgiveness without really wanting that.

And the waitress, before engaging the simplest rotor,
asks us to say when to end airstrikes of parmesan

and it does not matter when we do.

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Summer 2018)

Forming a Habit of Light Jogging

I feel good about myself
for the first time in millennia.
I mean,

I’m running galaxies compared
to glacial workdays married
to a silver Hewlett-Packard.

Here’s the secret to love:
treat yourself like shit
until you find someone

who makes you not
treat yourself like shit (lotus
petals unfolding…)

There are worse pasts
than ones rooted in mud,
being one who never snorted

or crushed up little orange pills to
ride into the eternity of night. Each
darkness used to be forever. My feet

would walk last week’s scattered toenail clippings
in my small bedroom. Dad often said drinking water
flushes the poison out of your system. The light

of morning flushes each yesterday. Even my toilet,
now armed in the tank with self-cleansing blue
discus, reincarnates in purified clouds. But I am

half-lion, half-man, when sprinting Neil
Avenue, bleach seeping from skin
into my sensitive parts.

The rotation of running
makes me laundry-in-progress
inside this spinning rock. I won’t lie

and say I have forgotten each love
in all our small mutual failures,
how running through neighborhoods

caused us to stumble into intersections
like Flower & 7th or how, in sprinting
toward imaginary finish lines,

we never flung our bodies
through the atmosphere of believing
forever-is-our-rhododendron-garden. Instead

we’d gash our knees on concrete,
look into each other’s black eyes
and laugh, believing we may have fooled

ourselves for good this time. At home
we’d foam our cuts with hydrogen peroxide
from those cheap, brown, plastic bottles

and wonder why some wounds won’t bubble
while others form dwarf star whites
who sting, then fade, in time.

 

(originally published in The Indianapolis Review, Summer 2017)

Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

The Sacrament of Confession in Catholic School

In kindergarten, I sketched a vagina as a circle
lost in strands of hair, similar to a scribbled sun.

The inklings of want would soon
set sail. When I showed the drawing

to my mother, she somehow knew what it was.
Her suspicious eye taught me life is the pursuit

of the scribbled sun. The first time I drove a car alone,
zooming up the hill toward the highway, I took pictures

of the sunset without watching the road, as if heaven
could be captured with my own fingers. At sixteen

I stole Snickers bars at my first job. The dollar store
went under. It could have been worse. I told the priest

maybe God thinks I touch myself improperly.
He said to toss the dirty magazines, meaning

I didn’t change a thing. In marching band, I pressed
my mouth against the trombone’s silver mouthpiece

and kissed when I blew, spit coursing through the instrument’s body
until it dripped onto the checkered floor. I didn’t lose my virginity

too early. By then it was too late. I have seen the L.A. River
rub itself dry beneath the metal bridges, withered and silent,

while the ocean wets perpetual sand, and all I could do
was run my fingers through the tide’s receding hair.

In seventh grade the school librarian declared if anyone
in class could finish A Tale of Two Cities, it was me.

I did not finish. I was twelve and mastering arousal,
turning pages with fingers on thighs inside of skirts,

skulking my hand up to God, to the first time
I knew sanctity– and the feeling, unlike faith,

was enough to make me believe.

 

(originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)

American Prayer

Why did an apple tree
grow in my backyard?
That’s where the swimming
pool was supposed to go.

I ask not for much.

A well-placed tornado, maybe.
Another plague, perchance,
to rot its every root.

Then a demon, perhaps.
Lucifer the Lumberjack,
chainsaw in hand,
could tempt the tree
with Eve, eat its fruits,
then chop it down, though
trees don’t love women
like I do.

Look, I know it’s not practical.
Jesus didn’t wear a crown of thorns
from an apple tree
but I bear a malus cross
and don’t want to give money
to a heathen
who cuts down
a tree for me.
I could do that by myself,
if I really wanted to. I really
want to buy that pool.

I’m tired of the silence.
I know it’s easier for you
to use your superpowers
to turn the tree into a Bible
that smells like a chomped-in
red delicious. If you do that
I will sue you.

 

(originally published in Cake & Grapes – Vol. I, Issue II)