Breakfast

I forgot about the Honey Nut Cheerios
I left on the counter in the kitchen.

Brought it to my room after my coffee,
grains soggy, milk sweet. Tried eating it

anyway but fell apart in sugary disintegration.
So I gave up. That’s usually what happens–

a few bites and that’s enough. I let it sit,
let it warm in the morning’s cool, gradual rise

to afternoon heat thinking about the satisfying
crunch it should give me, how I could have clamored

for seconds. I caress the silver spoon in deep
to slow splash and clank. This is what it becomes:

a pool of not-good-enough and I can’t will myself
to lift the ceramic altar to my lips to drink. I stare

at bottomless milk and know I live somewhere drowning
in this disappointment treading out to some delicious

shore somewhere only I know how to live, but here’s
this stale frothy white, stagnant in my bowl,

and me hovering lamenting stressing
over something fixable.

 

(originally published in The Remembered Arts Journal, Winter 2017)

Fog

We inhaled fog on the Golden Gate
along with traffic exhaust.
Foghorns cried names
we did not recognize.
Car horns, names we gave ourselves.
From this high, you said, there is no good
way to fall. We scrunched our fingers
to encapsulate the small
fragility fog brings– how, in a moment,
everything can change / fog
of ghosts rippling waves from long-
passed boats / fog of sitting in silence,
windows down / fog of steel cable’s
fading red / fog of missing
what we lost while sun cuts a way

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

Cardinals

Cold fronts enter spring, but cardinals
sing their frigid songs despite soft snow.

Red lips still curl over the sidewalk’s cigarettes
but warmth dissipates when smoke leaves the body.

Pale hands reach from corners of blurry photographs–
push through crowds of these-were-my-lovers

tines of bright puncture darkness. Negative dust
turns to light: the telescope observed your eyes

wandering the dark. Believe the perched cardinal
is lost love thinking of you who sculpts the moon

out of papier-mâché– scope the abyss for stars
but smell the art’s silver crumble on your skin.

 

(originally published in Thirteen Myna Birds, Fall 2016)

All the Bulbs are Burning Out

I am scared to death
of death.

Not just the big death
but tiny deaths, too.

All the bulbs are burning out
in my house one by one.

In living, we accrue small darknesses.

Mirror to mirror: void
where my eyes should be.

Hung mauve towel.
Vines of black mold.

Plastic ringlets steady
stained curtain infinity.

The silver shower faucet was once
a sunflower dreamed of fluorescence.

Now, downpour, no bright
for every prayer.

Gallons of black shower
(plead with God just–).

Gobs of

gobs and gobs of hair
cling to the drain.

Genuflect in the porcelain pitter-patter.

A feedback loop of weeps.

Hot water, cold water,
no water.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

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)

Observations from the Westside Pavilion Bridge

I.

stationary at the couch by the window over the street the cars move unseen beneath me in lines in some complex order that means they don’t crash into each other    the sound of engines is replaced with repetitive 4/4 pop music snare singer pleading for her lover to return but in Los Angeles   who do you return to

II.

locks click from storefront doors a Chinese family appears from behind the off-white pillar the mother in loose pink flowy shirt and dress takes a photo in front of the window her daughter in a white-and-red striped shirt her husband in a blue-and-pink striped shirt so much pink so many binding stripes and the mother captures that lone moment  the sky a tender backdrop

III.

a grandma walks a black stroller and makes a soft kind of train noise shh guh shh guh in syncopated beats as she travels in circles    the rolling sound of the stroller-like luggage in an airport    constant whir    her mouth a muted hi-hat to some imaginary beat on her third pass-by   the baby in pink stirs and she stops her mouth’s percussion and tends to the baby who is quiet but lifts her arm in the air   silhouette to the window of the world    cookies and cream   loose leggings

IV.

a man in his fifties eats macha ice cream alone near Dillard’s   walks in front of a blonde man in a cowboy hat water bottle in hand tying his shoelaces      the ice cream man on the other side of the window underneath the Westside Center sign stares at his reflection     he moves from the window bits of cone now lodged in his graying mustache

V.

the green palms reflected on the speckled cream floor    ripples in a pond blow so gently     outside a man with twenty hands and countless fingers     dances and puppeteers

VI.

two Mexican women with glowing purses hanging on their right shoulder walk in near-unison   one just a half-step ahead until the fast one stops to fix her shoe before walking into Nordstrom glass door squealing open       at its most open it sounds like a bad brake on a car      the other keeps walking

VII.

older man in a reddish shirt has a chocolate cone at 11:45pm   stands on the wide black stripe on the floor in front of the imposing silver pillar that splits in the middle like a buttcrack     he stands    licking staring forward at TVs     that advertise movies now playing in the theaters of his daydreams

VIII.

half of the iPhone billboard outside would be indiscernible    half white space stubs of fingers touching green fabric in a lazy V the space below it a half-globe of nothing   the squeaking of shoes slowly silence the man in blue beneath as he does not even notice I watch as he tucks his manila folder under his left armpit

IX.

mountains are indiscernible from buildings in the distance     curved with specks of white that hint at strange windows or a deepening mist that seem to want to envelop the rest of us    and how do we know it won’t

X.

a faraway pedestrian timidly crosses the intersection illegally   she slows but proceeds   and from my vantage point she crosses to the smell of the soy in the pad see ew that steams in front of me

XI.

the light which hangs above these walls of shades of gray is latticed in spiderweb    I cannot tell if the gentle sway-shaking is imaginary  or earthquake  all these little triangles hovering jittering above me   I wonder if this is how the universe actually moves   or what it truly looks like

XII.

upside-down reflections of walking legs move as the inverse of walking and sway with a sexy air voluminous breeze parting    moving away in a regal but  aimless sashay

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Gate C55

Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:

a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows

of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–

we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure

but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber

the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–

where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds

descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.

 

(originally published in Rust  + Moth, Autumn 2016)

Clutching My Stomach in the Bathroom

in front of the mirror wondering
how you made it through those nine months
to get nothing but condensation from a cloud
yes the smiles returned in the desert
when the scythe allowed we spoke truths
and asked everyone to provide thirst
because we were the cacti with reservoirs
of lust and destruction
laid out in desiccate flowerbeds
our wallets filled with zinnias
while we were filled
from the green of living
sometimes we are horses
galloping along dirt paths
and westbound highways
hoping they lead to ocean
but it leads always to night
to hunger
we barely know how to be raw anymore
how to sink dead teeth into apples
and want the core
our thin gums only cling to our mouths
because there’s nowhere else to call home
no more words that can make you
believe in a future

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Summer 2016)

The Undo Feature in Gmail

Sometimes I say what I don’t mean.

There is an algorithm which can make me forget;
the others remind me to remember.

Your action has been undone. As if my actions
needed a separate undoing– I did not expect you,

with your raven hair, to perch our thousand
miles, thousand days to bottle time

and cast to sea, a folded note to be read
by a stranger at shore. Here, I am a knot

bound to be undone, tethered to a battered shoe,
and in the sprint, wind coarsens your hair.

In the cold we move closer and closer until the breathing
is stale and fogs my car’s windows, the outside world

turned gray. Confusing a fluorescent lightbulb for the moon,
I would risk one more rejection to bring you even nearer,

past the point of no return.

 

(Originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)