Can’t Stop Coughing

I binge-take extra-strength cough
drops with gooey menthol centers

having come home from Thanksgiving
earlier than expected

temperatures in the 30s
a shrill turn in the wind

no one outside
but to yell at dogs

men summoning phlegm
hack away at progress

here I sit
alone loudly

perched against white
pillows dry-throated

the medicine kicks in
allows me to speak up

to silence the wall’s tongue
a quiet my body loves

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

Sunny Days

In memory of Chris Hull

friends don’t
wait for rainy days
to die
there is never
a metaphor
in the weather
the sun laughs
as it always does
when I receive the call
I find the nearest tree
to brace myself
with shade
it’s the only darkness
seventy-six degrees
warm breeze
the car
approaching the hospital
still takes her living
to work
at being alive

 

(originally published in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spring 2017)

So Find Meaning

in the blue diner
we laughed
made something meaningful

but how you puckered
your lips
didn’t mean you need
communion

I am
trying to make my way
down High street
without kicking every red hydrant
I walk by

without drowning in wish
without
finding meaning in every stop
sign
every green light
turned red

I’m finding out greasy fries
aren’t made to be shared
they clump
onto the salty plate

every intersection
is just an intersection
avoiding cars
strangers

every passing honk
is for you

I was not made
to philosophize

words
mean nothing
until spoken

 

(originally published in Nixes Mate Review, Winter 2017)

The Cough

The fractured stone tunnel hollows.

Browned winter leaves
crackle into crumbs.

Birds’ humming stirs into
a white blanket of silence.

That’s when we deadlock to distrust
& wake, shirts faded, stained

with verbal gunshots. Never
too early for shared cocktails,

never too healthy, or sick,
for what you know to be lodged

in your esophagus, bits of
chicken & asparagus held

together as a spell, or a mantra:
shake me, martini, shake me.

Make me loathe a little more.

 

(originally published in Random Poem Tree, Winter 2016)