The Funeral

                                           After Band of Horses

After my sister’s morning call broke
our father’s death, the first thing

I did was listen to Everything All the Time,
sobbing into unrequited guitar

and an ethereal voice soaring
into some great beyond. Seven years later,

I drink Bordeaux with my roommate
in the kitchen, cyclical tones

filling the room. The guitar is a coffin
for us both, lowering Dad’s corpse

into dirt. Her grandpa died
when this song released.

We rake our past leaves under burnt-out bulbs.
We agree: The Funeral was written for both of us

to pass the billion-each-insignificant day.
Dead leaves own the lawn each season

of our funerals. The same deaths
in autumn chill still dropping the needle

into memory’s vinyl– to come up only
to pull us under, show us wrong.

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Spring 2017)

Band Room

there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not

such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs

but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas

muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night

we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows

the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers

down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes

every piece celestas
on wet reed floor

the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something

 

(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)

Two-Year Lovesong

and the tide comes and goes like my foot in and out of the water lowering the gate to oblivion i hold your hand in highest regard in the pantheon we were regal all the modern day utensils utilized today a kind of balled rain if you can hold it without it dissipating you are the master of the clouds a red ladder leading to the top of mount everest where one will never rest among the cozy mattresses i almost assign an acadian victory holding loose the lips of passion and allowing everyone roam free

and the castle moat which floats in some space between imagination and fantasy holds to the gabardine moon just a flick of the lighter away on some space runway eternal light rushing some unmatchable beauty is found in the absence of all other light some unimaginable thing the first time you experience sunshine after birth your first kiss at a high school dance the music swaying both of you two mouths pressed against each other full of the moon like some wakeful sleep how it is as memory

(initially published in an alternate form in The Open Mouse)

Following a Trip to the L.A. Zoo

wear sunscreen you’ll thank me faster

do not come to me bearing ailments

it was just yesterday gifts of topaz and corundum your ring-fingers will dance will light over penny slot screens aplomb

some shared jackpot of drunkenness

or worse

sparks from fireflies in the Georgia summer floating flickering stars lightly humming

when a hum turns into a birdcall we whistle like sparrows on a branch

twigs in our talons we offer to the other

twinkle of the moon through the swaying branches above

voices like an owl-song who

are we to hover over the other’s hopes who

will pinch us find we are composed of feathers too raggedy to summon the strength

fingers meekly bristle against your cheek soft as the whirring of the window fan we drift to sleep

so California is the drought I cannot feel it devoid of breathing like a sandstorm

California someday drifts into the Pacific I am my own island thirsting for wet soil

your cotton-morning taste will itself someday drift

 

 

(originally published by The Virginia Normal)

Theory of the Universe

Did we learn ourselves from the mirror
after we studied constellations
in ragged almanacs… we rotated mechanical
with a hiss of the so-slow
slowing axis…

No equation… can yet rebirth
a cooling star’s impending supernova

If the family cello were given to you
as it recovered from basement dust…

the bowstring part of me
moves… without asking
to the crescendo of ripples…
and F-minor weeping, the lake
awake not as often at night

the big bang must have stemmed… from a desert string
nervous tremolo through the ages, expanding
like a lung just before that first breath–
whole note for the endless meter…

 

(originally published in 99 Pine Street)

Hyacinth Rose

there are many flowers come across paths
alongside apartments but nonesuch like the

hyacinth rose wrapped tightly as such stands
outside a tiny market in view of black-grim

graffiti reading with a smile worth at least fifty
fifty-cent avocados because spring lays beyond

the peel of skin like waking up to jumbled
white sheets with the knowing of presence past

white walls hanged with stationary song which
would sing if only strings could strum themselves

 

(originally published in The Bitter Oleander, Spring 2015)