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)

I Think of Giraffes Sometimes. I Hope They Sometimes Think of Me.

In Kathleen’s apartment in Oregon,
I ask her where even is home?

Clevelanders-turned-transplants,
maybe never knowing.

I see my mom’s mown lawn
in the green fields our baseball

team travels through, my friends
in tweets spitting scores or stats.

These, I don’t care about,
but I join in discussion.

Blue hands to high-five,
then to put my phone down.

 

(originally published in Hobart, Winter 2018)

Symbolism for a Millennial Breakup

I cracked my phone screen
on my first date without you.

I carried it in my back pocket, like always,
though maybe I postured myself differently,

finally sitting up straight enough
to carry my own weight.

I didn’t look at my phone
until after the date. By then,

I could no longer remember you
without the shattered glass–

the flawless screen was not made
from our blazing beach days

of black seaweed and slithering kites
that begged the wind to let go,

where footsteps parted sand
to lead the tide into ourselves,

to let the moon drag our bodies
into the ocean’s boundless mirrors

where, enveloped in reflections,
we could only gasp for air.

 

(originally published in Metonym, Fall 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)

Broke in L.A.

The only deals I actually found in Vons
were in clearance. Beers half-off per bottle.
They’ll be ready in a box in my too-orange,
too-granite Public Storage space when I am.

Bearded teens saunter by in lumberjack caps.
I will wait for more significant events in my life
to drink the harp whose tones keep me moving.

Think about teeth– among the homeless drifters
I probably consume the most peanut M&M’S,
filling my days with processed rainbows and crunch.
How do you stop? I was at the 7th Street Metro, one a.m.,
no one there and the halls echoed in perpetuity.

Purple line for purple folk. I’m purple
from dehydration. Mixture of gravel and headspace.
Play me some ukulele. The strings react to the roar
of coming trains, twenty minutes late.

This is what I hear: my name is Grace.
I want to direct, and these are my roommates.
I realize even in the city’s darkest depths,
no one is alone, even after the dream fades.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 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)

Katalina’s

I would walk to the ends of the Earth for you or,
more accurately, to the brunch spot a few
blocks down the street to spend ten dollars,

ten minutes with a runny yolk on a southern
chicken breast sandwiched in a biscuit, while
your silver-haired friend buys your meal and shares

his own, he who kindly asks if I want more water
because he could always use more, like all of California
during my time there; he who gushes about the beauty

of rain-soaked Seattle, how in a three-sixty swivel
hills lush green and you never feel more alive.
I cannot help but agree that, yes, the Pacific Northwest

has a fog which casts a pall over my slinking shadow, loses it;
yes, casts a spell on my marionette body, slackens my spine
to skeleton-cast my demotion of confidence to learn, no–

to move back east from the west is not that unique.
Ladies are not impressed with artifacts,
rust coating that less authentic time.

 

(originally published in Down in the Dirt, Spring 2016)

Drunken Rambling from the Coast

A former friend said to me, I’m jealous of your whimsical life.
I haven’t stopped drinking since I was in a hotel room
with his wife, my feet kneading red, chalklike carpet,
their honeymoon’s pall a dim, amber light. She said

you need Vitamin D, Sunshine. I made a habit
of overdosing on the sun. Tell me again what I need.
I had yet to unpeel friendship’s pear with my lips–
and sink. I danced with her months before

at The Viper Room, my shirt half-clipped. I could not stop
thinking about how we might fit under the drunken moon:
her candles the flares in a darkening room, wax trickling
with no end, the rose-like incense rotting the room…

I read an article claiming that remembering
a memory is like saving a JPEG–
each time you remember, the image pixelates
a little more until it blurs beyond recognition.

It was dark when it happened. We were drinking.
Streetlights cast orange bars on the bed through
window blinds while we slipped hungrily
from existence. Her face was a spade

but we felt like the garden, digging deeply
into ourselves until we became an open cemetery.

***

I drink screwdrivers to feel the acid on my tongue,
feeling better since fleeing to the bay’s foggy shores.
I make stops to study the water at each chilly beach,
every heave of the tide as clear as the last–

and as frenzied– her arm reaches into the sand
closer and closer to pull me in, have one last good look
at me to ensure I disappear, if I’m not already gone.
I have my flask. The sunset. Miles of winding road.

Memories to fade, to make, to fade.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse, Spring 2016)

Long Beach

from a high rooftop after rain,
headlights lead their drivers
to safety in a grid of electricity;
slick, mighty towers surround
and glisten from orange streetlights;
the harbor, an unending cascade
of dreams painted
in reflected, rippling stars–

you can hear, from outside the metro,
a shrieking man in an aureolin raincoat,
several hurried severities of shoes
clopping on sidewalks

still I will tell you the city is beautiful
when far enough away to never see
imperfection

and I’ll hold you close,
hands clasping your ears,
our own static to block
distractions which, for the beauty
of this moment, do not matter–

 

(originally published in Random Poem Tree, February 2016)

Eat Your Face

You wanted to eat my face
just as seven A.M. south Oregon fog
conceals trees over a low valley.
I wanted the same of yours.

What you liked was the sky descended:
how you’re able to grip, fleetingly,
the mortal, shifting clouds–
to think, I have touched the untouchable.

Many pines, from a distance, can be held
by two fingers. We can choose to let them dangle
or hold
steady, steady

The fog consumes and rises
while we watch the sun burn slowly west.

When the rain begins,
the soft pattering against the windshield
mimics the sound of your jaw
fake-chomping my cheeks–
nearly-inaudible clicks.

The speedometer oscillates
between sixty-five and ninety.

The hillsides change so suddenly
with every mile– shifting smiles hidden
by a fog you know will also fade.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA)

*Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Writing Knights Press in 2017