Leaving California

I deliberated when traveling the country
because there was no one anywhere waiting,
no one on either coast with arms open wide to hold
me in their jacket in an ocean breeze– no, grime
rocked from screen to shade. The tide of film
frothed over tours viewing Santa Monica
for the first time as if, as they had hoped,
there was something new to see.

 

(originally published in streetcake, Winter 2018)

M I N T

We wandered the meat-factory-
turned-art-gallery, white wall to
white wall, wondering when to
dispel our abstract selves–
positive, negative, we followed
lines from canvas to grate where
blood of cattle used to drain,
where old concrete holds imprints
of feet. My hand sank into yours
that first time. I still see it there.

 

(originally published in Cold Creek Review, Spring 2018)

Homesick (Dissociation)

Tulip tree in Alaska. Cold
and wild. Rembrandt blue

Christmas lights, shepherd
pie a warmth of familiar metal

stovetop. Doorstep. Gold
beneath nothing but rusted shovel

mnemonic arms repping
dumbbells. Must be strong

in clumps of conviction. The south
says the creator God’s a yes.

Freeform jazz. Bubbled
champagne. Festivals devoted

to home. Houston before me,
Texas a pink tie knotted.

 

 

(originally published in bluepepper, Winter 2018)

After Months of Living in My Ford Fiesta

sun & guitar strumming through space giving
breathing life-music concertos into me the grass

the G-minor wind the black garbage bags
I have picked out only a few t-shirts to wear

this year or any year could be the lifespan
of the universe or an endless pot of coffee

all my pants in the trunk I have driven
the cavernous columns of west U.S.A. today

& yesterday & tomorrow is my bent mind u-turn
steering wheel a strained muscular twist & cat-tongue

rubber consuming thoughts which are broke &
banked & rivulets of rust & cash the downstream

trend of my feral gasoline-fueled dreams

(originally published in Treehouse: An Exhibition of the Arts, Winter 2018)

Even Netflix Is in Debt

There’s a vast swath of land infected by the living
dead. The desert, the plains, the cities– all beheld
by glow of screen, and we’ve dug holes too deep
for bodies. Just pray there are no more casualties,
no gunshots, no cars striking crowds, whether in
the USA or Spain– all of this is beginning to look
universal, the hatred of our own. How we pay
for the debt the nation’s entrepreneurs designed.
There’s an endless spate of horror
films upon which to feast our eyes but look
at the people walking down your street harboring
the fears society cannot afford. There is still
ample land to lay graves– land founded on holes
we placed bodies in yet we distract ourselves
with everything, looking for the next lark
to keep us living. Under blankets in living
rooms with lovers, under stars aglow through
open window, we watch the drama unfold.
We know the protagonists will always
find a way out of suffering.
Those through the window never do.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Winter 2017)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)

Before You Leave for Jacksonville

I awaken on a cold-coiled spring
day in which the car won’t stop
spitting fumes into mouths this steering
wheel won’t budge any way but forward
though we veer to the side past white center
line on highway under full moon to fill
our gas tanks with flowers found in eyes
fluttering in wind right when I say
I love you this time I mean it

 

(originally published in Epigraph Magazine, Winter 2018)

 

 

Scenery

My roommate takes me
for a walk, or she takes the dog
for a walk. It doesn’t matter.
It’s the second night

we’ve walked each other,
or the dog walked us,
sore throat, brainy fog,
and this time can’t even find

the moon, obscured by houses.
We look anyway, together,
comparing bloom to doubt,
how one is sure, the other

grows, and leaves
crunch beneath as the dog
stops our walking
to pee, to leave another

thing behind. On Sunday
I watched the Niagara dump millions
of gallons into itself, mist rising
into something, nothing. The moon

loomed huge over the bridge
to America towing sunset’s lavender
bed but you can watch a thing die
before your eyes, or not at all–

the way, driving back from Canada
in heavy traffic, I tapped you
on the shoulder on the sky bridge
and said, look, here’s something,

one thing beautiful left, look,
and took the world’s last magnificent,
proffered blue and there, as a passenger,
you refused.

 

(originally published in The Knicknackery, 2018)

Fortune Cookie (May 9, 2017)

You have good reason
to be self-confident.

After all, this is what
the fortune cookie said.

After a dinner portion
of greasy lo mein
from New Peking.

After CNN reports
the president’s firing
of the FBI director.

This is a gross abuse of power,
and there is a gross amount
of noodles inside me.

Despite that,
I have good reason
to be self-confident,

I suppose.

I am reasonably certain
I still have a job.

I am reasonably certain
I am not under investigation.

There was no backdoor
deal struck with the restaurant
to ensure this would be

my particular
fortune.

All I did was order
the noodles via telephone.

Then I drove to the
restaurant to pick it up,
face-to-face.

I used my credit card
to pay for it, but
I will pay the bill.

In the plastic bag
they handed me,
there was a brown bag.

In the brown bag,
there was a white box
with my food in it

as well as chopsticks,
napkins, a fork, and
the fortune cookie.

That’s it.

All I’m saying is
if you don’t believe
me, investigate.

Anyone who says
differently
is reasonably suspicious.

 

(originally published in Landfill, Fall 2017)