It’s the middle of the night
you say as you wake up,
7 A.M. sunlight beaming
through the cat tree.
Neither of us can sleep
these days of cells
turning against you–
I seek soft blanket
when touching you.
Fabric against skin
where soon warmth
(originally published in former People, Winter 2018)
microphone in hand
the gutter of volumetric gain
to finally sing gin (out of the system
sky an ocean of lights)
the star made of you-matter: gold voice hot collision
where bar’s empty souls listening clink glasses
then rise in song to celebrate your living
Driving west to Columbus from my partner’s house
in Pittsburgh early morning and on I-70 around six
in the rearview there’s a giant burst of orange light nearly
deafening in its glory and my first thoughts are fire and fury
then you’re gone but no it’s a heavenly sunrise and I can’t
remember the last time I witnessed the sun rise though a few
days ago she and I were in Vermont about to hike an
overlook before sunrise to watch it but we couldn’t will
ourselves out of bed and what a world to wake to now
driving alone this big dramatic ball of fury revealing its
magnificence bathing land in light before it softens
how it could have been one or the other
a burst of beauty or unspeakable tragedy yet from a distance
a bomb might seem as beautiful and harmless as a sunrise
at least until the smoke how with fire too there’s a kind
of enchantment but for this a split second then the anguish
and fury for this sunrise greeting a thousand grieving days
(originally published in Old Red Kimono, Spring 2018)
& when you sleep (waking
life is not cheap)
I know our love’s worth
out on our back patio
drinking bad wine on Tuesday
& the dog can’t decide
which side of the glass
he wants to live
on, the wild & murk
or the safe & stone.
I’m living life under
fluorescents or artificial
light, got a wallet made
of air I’m thumbing through,
somehow living & learning
despite the change
or lack of– glass
clinks on bronze floor.
I’m saying I love the sundown
& evening air, my fingers
locked in yours, unloose.
(originally published in Panoplyzine, Winter 2017)
I dropped the screw in the tuna.
The dog got blamed. Once,
my grandma cut herself climbing
a fence and a sliver of flesh fell
into snow, which her dog ate.
I could have gifted you this.
There’s a Christmas story in there
somewhere. There was a better kind
of last meal you could have.
(originally published in I-70 Review, Fall 2018)
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)
I scratch at doors because I hear a creature
moving in some box I have yet to lick.
Cardboard has the faint taste of forest, of hungry
bark. I have never ventured deep but the deep
knows my name, and when alone its voice
is sometimes distant but so heavy, I claw
the door’s painted wood until the woodlands stop
speaking, or someone lets me free. I explore dark
spaces and in this home I look for monsters
to flee– I run from shadows, sprinting through
the wilds of rooms wanting a chase to give
my motion meaning. Don’t get me wrong.
I’m grateful; I’m safe; I’m running from myself:
I’ve loved like vacancies in the clothes hanging
in closets. And loved like in your arms, eyes closed,
no more dark but in searching for the predator
to emerge in you– but on your bed, in this room,
in this home– there is only breathing and calm
I can’t sense in that outside world of creaking
and footsteps, of clouds rolling into thunder,
of multitudes of other things
I trust far less than you.
(originally published in York Literary Review, Spring 2017)