Athens, Ohio

The city was dead when we went
so we intended to fill ourselves
with black magic found
in skeletons on the street.

Look how roots of fallen
trees meld with earth.
Go where lines still meander
on your palms–

we did not share with ghosts
when we reached the end,
no words whispered into steam
of dim lights and Darjeeling,

no further graffiti for your blue
telescope eyes peering through time
to the origin of your cosmos, when
your essence poured from your sleeves

but carried less starlight than it does now.

 

(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)

Library Days

That gray summer was spent buried
in fantasy novels beside my father’s grave.

It was rain in bitter heat, a whirlwind of pages
as my hands returned to oak, night lamp aglow.

Always I end in a nestle of branches and words,
longing to strip my faded jeans and unbathe,

ride a dragon into goldenrod, triangular
wings swallowing the neutral sky–

so often I shovel terrain in my mouth,
wishing time erode the sediment

that builds cities in my body,
skyscrapers in my throat.

 

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

Shapelessness

As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–

my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.

The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,

a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.

For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
long enough and someone will notice. No one

likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear

of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
My shapelessness. My tendency to drift

so far away that I never fully return.

 

(originally published in Jazz Cigarette, Autumn 2016)

Arizona Desert

sand lodged in the crooks of fingernails
watch the way light

reflects its own water
the last time something glimmered

was birth driving ninety
through the Arizona desert

the scorch in red rocks
pursued our same dreams

pricklier than a cactus
you leave who you love

the phone conversations
of dryer lint and treble

in heat, tires tremble
in cold, you wait

 

(originally published in “the vacant hinge of a song“, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)

Utah Sandstone

I run from exceptional red.
Distance. Majestic arches. Loop-
de-loop of common want. Canyons,
or peace of mind. Say Zen. Say
Zion. Watch as wind-up forests
spiral from sand. Leaves whisper
to their coming branches in the vacant
hinge of a song. Don’t they
still reach for you. The lonely hoodoos
eroded in failed embrace. Treble clef,
or trouble. No beats for the metered dream.

 

(originally published in Turk’s Head Review – October 2015)

Caesura

Every road has a finite end, just mud and sky, daytime
if you’re lucky, night looming beyond the paling horizon.

Maybe there is a barren tree, branches dancing
to a slow sonata, a love song only the two of you

know, the earth calmly listening. If you can plant
your naked feet into the ground, you will hear

the earth hum as it spins faster than you will ever
move, and though it always seems like stasis, you hope

it never stops, remains a puzzle
merely a misstep from disarray.

 

(originally featured in Common Ground Review, Vol. XVII, Issue II)

Eat Your Face

You wanted to eat my face
just as seven A.M. south Oregon fog
conceals trees over a low valley.
I wanted the same of yours.

What you liked was the sky descended:
how you’re able to grip, fleetingly,
the mortal, shifting clouds–
to think, I have touched the untouchable.

Many pines, from a distance, can be held
by two fingers. We can choose to let them dangle
or hold
steady, steady

The fog consumes and rises
while we watch the sun burn slowly west.

When the rain begins,
the soft pattering against the windshield
mimics the sound of your jaw
fake-chomping my cheeks–
nearly-inaudible clicks.

The speedometer oscillates
between sixty-five and ninety.

The hillsides change so suddenly
with every mile– shifting smiles hidden
by a fog you know will also fade.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA)

*Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Writing Knights Press in 2017