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)
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)
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)