Taboo

the gorge is endless & insatiable
there is a river, then many mouths
& there is your mother
in the next room cooking soup
& there is a mother
on screen bent over stovetop
with stepson rocking back
& forth into hunger
& now spoons clank
on plate before dinner
& your privacy settings–
a closed door
& now your father
home from work
& now the stepfather
makes his daughter behave
& your sister
walks in off the bus
& now the step-sister
removes the mushroom of her skirt
taking her brother by the name
of their familiar
revelation
which is all relative
to the mold of a home
all mildew & dust
spiderweb & tangle
& turn of doorknob
to walk years
through thin hallways
of broken light
fixtures & coughs
to sit in the dining room
all together & eat
years of steaming
garlic, basil, tomato,
salt

 

(originally published in The Cerurove, Fall 2017)

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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)

Animalism

Listen: the Earth’s siren wails
in tones only animals like us can understand.

We are pretending we do not caress ourselves
on the bed of feather blankets.
Wings– and we call them feathers.

Our weightlessness is contagious.
A broken Bob Dylan vinyl.

Tender was the night until the day absolved it so.

If a wolf sleeps through whistle
has he lost his lust? The life

of choice. We are obese with wrong decisions
and our belts contain the weight dribbling
past our buckles.

Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky annexed
by memory. Junebugs live there in relative obscurity.
Junebugs. June bugs.

 

(originally published in The Oddville Press, Summer 2017)

Slow Bullet

My father often mourned
the mortality of grass. I never

want to grow accustomed to the mower’s
tornado roar then limp drawl

that crumples summer’s green
into bent xylophone. I wonder

every morning why I’m there, or here,
and never sure where I ever

relinquish my shed skin for dust
blowing out into the wellspring of time.

 

(originally published in The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, Summer 2017)

Ephemeral Garden

The map leads from bloom to wing
to sky– we followed gracefully before
black swan wings haunted our spines.

I was tangled in the garden of words
and you did not believe a thing
I said. I cowered in sagebrush

to study flying squirrels (the wingless
claim the sky). I told you I would never tell
another lie because what is truth

in an ephemeral garden, where the birdsong
of thrashers becomes language?
I attempt to look away from truth

but the truth is, nothing in this world
shocks me any more than when I crane my head
to see the nightmare we have become.

 

(originally published in Zany Zygote Review, Spring 2017)

Alley Walk Into the Dark Park

ambled through snow to my bowl of ice

my calloused tongue on her cold
the bowl’s organ

shriveled
I was a white door
textured and crumbling
in that manticorean dumpster

buds of teeth and name
the mane
where that doorknob would have been

the park on a picnic
her triangular table limbs

white oaks unhinged

the thunderstorm
and her cold drooping javelin wings

 

(originally published in Peculiar Mormyrid)