Our Cafe as Morning Vacation

On the patio drinking iced coffee
you write a letter to Jane Fonda
telling her you always thought
you’d be an actress– that distant
magical woman with a collection of
workout VHS tapes, one of which you
bought when thrifting. The sun is out. Lawyers
beside us talk about renovations to streets
near campus but from straw to lips– you and I,
our city infrastructure’s solid. We do not
fill our holes with asphalt to build new roads
lined with palm trees and your bagel stays fresh
in morning cool that feels like Palm Springs,
California. I am somewhere old yet unfamiliar:
a vacation in our neighborhood, a beach
house along the shores of the Scioto river,
oldies guitar strumming through air
like a boat guided by breeze–
fond of the present, sailing upstream.

 

(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Spring 2018)

Our Neighborhood Giant Eagle Is Closing

Everything is on sale. Where once was bread
now empty shelves and strangers scanning aisles

for the last shred of good. As it closes you say
you are a little sad, but it was never your favorite

grocery store. We have been fighting a lot lately–
from our favorite tv shows, to what type of dog

we might get, to which sugary cereals to pile
into our cart with all these cheap products

that don’t fit together: taco shells, toothpaste,
store-brand mac and cheese– would you believe

a month ago this place was stocked with everything
we need? We try to talk about marriage,

our deepwater eyes zooming through the dark
into a future where we guess what will become

of this building while seeking sustenance we know
other shoppers already bought the last of.

We need a sign to give us clearance to move on–
then the cashier, ringing each item slowly

as if savoring each would save his job, repeats
thirty percent off, thirty percent off, thirty percent off,

and a little more every day.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, 2018)

Back Patio

It’s 8 P.M. and lights hang like eggs
on a string beneath the moon
from the second-floor window
to the wooden fence.

The air conditioner threatens
the chattering insects
with its drone suckling noise
from fading light.

A car door slams. The almost-distant
hum of traffic. Sirens occasionally
dot red the air, causing the dogs
in the neighborhood to howl.

What does anyone mean
when they say animal?
Outside I am one
with the wild.

Beyond vine-green, breathing
fence I hear a basketball
bounced, tossed, missed,
dropped.

Whomever is playing must be lost
in thought, making calculations
of which he is unaware,
surviving in one way he knows.

 

(originally published in CultureCult Magazine, 2017)

Warehouse Beach

The warehouse art gallery could never be mistaken for the beach,
even as curators charade sand across the dancefloor,
make us remember desire. Violins strike the throbbing air
with an electronic pulse, a horsehoof beat activating

the summer IPAs we drank beforehand to create
our summer selves. It ends. You end. At home later on
we watch documentaries where owls hunt forests for prey.
I pray we will soar but never hungry above branches.

Mostly I pray for our hearts to not be plucked raw, how stranded
and helpless we can feel in a new town while the world whirls
a thousand miles per hour– we stumble through sliding landscapes–
sand on concrete wails for sun, for sunset wind to whip

through industrial, unfinished interiors. We dance, or run,
until light draws herself from the ocean’s muted stone.

(originally published in Crack the Spine, Winter 2016)