The city was dead when we went
so we intended to fill ourselves
with black magic found
in skeletons on the street.
Look how roots of fallen
trees meld with earth.
Go where lines still meander
on your palms–
we did not share with ghosts
when we reached the end,
no words whispered into steam
of dim lights and Darjeeling,
no further graffiti for your blue
telescope eyes peering through time
to the origin of your cosmos, when
your essence poured from your sleeves
but carried less starlight than it does now.
(originally published in The Stray Branch, Spring 2018)
the weight of an axe sleeps
between us in bed.
we dream of horses
wanting to whip us
until the stable
lives up to its name.
the pawnbroker’s hunched shadow
further crumples into shadow.
there it is, a black apple–
and your pupils, telling truths into the dark.
(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 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)
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)
pluck stars from the heavens
twist a new celestial face
gods like the river no longer revered
oxygen the miracle
light the suffocation
rebirth me in ash
my fame was crucified
gnarled teeth stained
the slain valor of vodka
etch my name on sacred mountain
worship the white gradual chipping of paint
(originally published in November Bees, Summer 2016)
I listened, during that foggy morning stroll
on the Golden Gate, when you alluded
to what it must mean to jump,
how it must feel to fall.
The foghorn blared every five minutes
from some ship we could not find beneath us.
We peered our heads over the low railing
and inhaled the gray.
Red telephones rang in our heads.
I can still hear the ringing
from the hotel’s broken phone–
thin wires dangled into lines
on our palms, curved and infinite–
an atlas to guide the whispers
we cupped into our hands
I feared faraway screams
or the deafening sound of cymbals, shards
of metal launched from the hinges
of what was thought secure–
I did not expect
in an instant, without percussion–
I did not expect the fog, how sterile
it seems, like the afterlife, how it turns
the familiar into silhouettes–
to make this any easier.
(originally published in riverbabble, Issue #28, Winter 2016)
sand lodged in the crooks of fingernails
watch the way light
reflects its own water
the last time something glimmered
was birth driving ninety
through the Arizona desert
the scorch in red rocks
pursued our same dreams
pricklier than a cactus
you leave who you love
the phone conversations
of dryer lint and treble
in heat, tires tremble
in cold, you wait
(originally published in “the vacant hinge of a song“, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)
(originally published in Guide to Kulchur, Issue #6)
(originally published in Magnolia Review, Summer 2015)
nights cold near the ocean
whispers reclusive invitations
Andrew Bird’s Q-tip acoustic fills the ears
the long voice pizzicato plucks cluck pluck
scratching, say, the sand munching feet,
the seashells and their blue-moon breath
breathe into your ears the eternal secret
of the ocean, quiet all these sleepy years
How do you leave the wet sand after that?
(originally published in Loveliest – Issue #1)