Stand-Up Comedy

[the comedian approaches the stage in sunglasses
and a shiny black and green robe.]

Knock knock.
                        (Who’s there?)

I am.
There is no punchline.

Listen past your rush-hour heart.
I am up here breathing heavily.

Listen: I want you to laugh
and never stop. I am trying jokes
you did not know you wanted to hear.

I searched coast-to-coast for lands
who laugh with me, that tectonic shifting
from belly to chest.

Why did boys like me bring ladders to school?

We wanted to learn mountains and rarefied air.
To find reservoirs of laughter waiting.

What did 0 say to 8?
                       Nice belt!

                      (I don’t get that joke!)

But I want your holy, exhaled noise.
Relax.

What do you do if you see a spaceman?

You laugh. He doesn’t know what he’s doing here.
What he’s doing anywhere.
I offered myself to the ocean–
the entertainment industry.
She did not want.
The spotlight hungers for no one.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why wouldn’t the chicken cross the road
if the chicken intended to cross the road?

Most everyone I know crosses the road
without looking both ways these days.
I do not call them chickens– they are my more realistic friends.

I want to make them laugh.
If you’re not laughing for me, laugh for them.

We are haunted by too many things:
dead friends, dead family, dead love,
dead strangers, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.

You can be someone’s haunting sunlight.
Someone’s champion jester dispersing their marbles too good.

Look, a magic trick!
                                   [he throws two playing cards onto the floor]

How do you catch a unique rabbit?
U nique up on it.

How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Tame way– u nique up

on something enough to latch onto–
just a hinge’s creak
before the mouth’s swing open, closed.

Some of us never leave that darkness.
The silent divide.

Laughter will bring us close.

I mean it when I say let’s laugh until we die,
even when what we laugh about isn’t funny.

I mean it when I say if you see a space, man,
park your car, man.

It’s over.

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Fall 2017)

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Kurt Says There Is No Such Thing as Information Loss

You can recover anything. If you can’t,
you will. What you seek exists
but has left for the black hole of knowledge
steady at the center of the galaxy.
You will become a different person,
renovate the house but keep the windows.
You will find a new lover but process
bits of data still there– the comparisons
and air hurtle toward end-time, the end
line unquantifiable by any metrics of the heart,
of time complete and incomplete starts.
There is a long black hair lodged in your beard
from a lover though the body has moved on.
You forget the names of things you know
but know what they are, how you can have mind
without soul but no soul without mind.
You can live a new life
without losing the old.

 

(originally published in the hour after happy hour, Fall 2017; also published in The Cadaverine Magazine)

Space Junk

After the breakup, our phone conversations
become space debris, steel pieces hardly
discernible hurtling haphazardly at five miles

per second. Where do the scraps go?
The gold taste of summer will impact the brain
and puncture, enflame. We wish to assist

the start-ups who seek to construct
machines to eliminate wayward spares
of satellites trapped in the gravity of a body,

propel its dust into the atmosphere to burn.
We drift wary of small artifacts
from failed missions to emerge

in the distance of night to strike
and make split into fragments
we will never assemble again.

 

(originally published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, Spring 2017)

Infinite Strings

It was Maxwell
who asked
if algebra
can be extended.
My theory is
it is possible
if we are infinite
strings of numbers,
if an unknown
number
of remaining days
is what
makes us immortal.
With him
gone,
I recite
as many
digits
of pi
as I can
just to feel
my tongue
flicker again–
does the universe
confuse numbers
with the heart’s
density, or
sparsity?
The night sky’s
violins
sing arias
for minor
constellations
that connect
to never-
ending strings
of
days–

 

(originally published in Columbia College Literary Review, Spring 2017)

Dogs

i know it’s the other way around
but i see the dogs in people

that intense hunger of waiting
by a wooden door so close to the thrust of opening

i want to eat the walls that keep you away
the doorknob you twist to leave
the blankets you always hide beneath

i hold my waste for hours
the measured discipline

when you speak your breath is memory
what you’ve consumed
i can’t look anywhere else

push me away i cling to you a vestige
of humanity is all remains the last living thing
who would love me

you and your bureaucratic affection
the withholding of every emotion
makes you vulnerable

i was born to want you by my side

you
my lamb
my wishbone
between teeth

like a star holds to gravity
before its collapse

some adherence to light
before the drift

the absolute zero of desire
far from the wild where
we were raised to want

close to where we want to be

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)

Nothing Makes Sense and I’m Glad We Understand That

Wait for the sun to shine past noon.
Palm trees quiver in a vortex of goosebumps.

The universe revealed itself
as a skeleton in the sky.
Vertebrae wisps, stoic.
Jets soared through bone rings
and whispered softly to faraway swans.

Gaze into the galaxy – golden
stalagmites in deep caves – we understand
that we scatter like gulls
only to congregate again
and dance above the sea.

All the swirling rainbow colors
in the reflections from puddles

unravel the universe
from a spool. As
thread slowly sways,
forget
what we understood.

 

(originally published in Syzygy Poetry Journal, Vol. I, No. II)

Near-Collision

Not that I don’t want to walk the streets with you.
But when I sit on a suspended turtle shell
hanged from risen arms and don’t think it’s magic
is the issue. It should be magic.

We walked through spider webs.
Middle-school basketballers howled
like playing wolves behind us.

A rock split and whizzed past us like a meteor:
hurled through space and time
to find us here

and still barely missed.

Thousands of light years
on the pin of a needle.
Striking sandy bits of gravel.
Clanging like dropped silverware.

The fridge is packed with eggs inside.
Vodka lives frozen but still fills glasses
topped with orange juice. They swirl
and marry happily and end
in a bathroom, anyway.

As if chocolate swirls in ice cream
didn’t represent the arms of the galaxy.
Comets made of custard and fairy
dust move in high speeds and
travel in circles smaller than us.

I know at great range
there is someone else I will barely miss.

 

(originally published in Lines + Stars, Spring 2015)