Breakfast

I forgot about the Honey Nut Cheerios
I left on the counter in the kitchen.

Brought it to my room after my coffee,
grains soggy, milk sweet. Tried eating it

anyway but fell apart in sugary disintegration.
So I gave up. That’s usually what happens–

a few bites and that’s enough. I let it sit,
let it warm in the morning’s cool, gradual rise

to afternoon heat thinking about the satisfying
crunch it should give me, how I could have clamored

for seconds. I caress the silver spoon in deep
to slow splash and clank. This is what it becomes:

a pool of not-good-enough and I can’t will myself
to lift the ceramic altar to my lips to drink. I stare

at bottomless milk and know I live somewhere drowning
in this disappointment treading out to some delicious

shore somewhere only I know how to live, but here’s
this stale frothy white, stagnant in my bowl,

and me hovering lamenting stressing
over something fixable.

 

(originally published in The Remembered Arts Journal, Winter 2017)

Forsythia

The days when we would lay
on blue towels by the beach
combing through our Merriam-Webster
holding every fascinating word by the stems in our mouths,
our vibrancy was inseparable from gardens
full of hyacinths and rhododendron and zinnias
and, yes, forsythias, all these flowers in our hometowns
we never knew the names of
until we saw the words on sand-shorn pages,
said the names out loud, grasped endlessly
for petals in each other. No, we bloomed
laughter from our throats, planted seeds
into pits where absence grows in ensuing Aprils.
We never knew what words might appear
on Scrabble nights hunched over grids of possibility and–
strings of letters string surprising words together.
Marionettes, spider webs, violins, shoelaces,
your hair among the rules of nature, and nurture,
here nurturing the garden, here the home
where we tend other flowers– all my love,
I repeated. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia.
But those beach days were distant, the tide slurring
softly alongside my returns from long unexplainable workdays–
all my love, I repeated. For Cynthia.
Wooden tiles tornadoed to the floor, slapping
the carpet with words we had not invented yet–
there is no remedy for lost trust. The flame
already sleeps in the bed of the mouth.
Cynthia, Cynthia. I did not know a Cynthia–
but I had never been able to name a forsythia
in the wild. The next time I see one
will feel like cheating. Nothing too-known is magical–
there is wonder in inventing nomenclature,
that a word like forsythia can only be made
in moments like anesthesia, with darkness descending
like the cigarette clouds of a severe storm when, in the drift
into a new consciousness, a lilac floats your mind’s pond–
a lilac, maybe, though that’s not what you want,
and maybe, in the distance, you see the blossoming
yellow that accompanies spring, the air golden around it–
the beauty that’s grander than words.
You wish you never learned the name for it.

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2017)

Infinite Strings

It was Maxwell
who asked
if algebra
can be extended.
My theory is
it is possible
if we are infinite
strings of numbers,
if an unknown
number
of remaining days
is what
makes us immortal.
With him
gone,
I recite
as many
digits
of pi
as I can
just to feel
my tongue
flicker again–
does the universe
confuse numbers
with the heart’s
density, or
sparsity?
The night sky’s
violins
sing arias
for minor
constellations
that connect
to never-
ending strings
of
days–

 

(originally published in Columbia College Literary Review, Spring 2017)

All the Bulbs are Burning Out

I am scared to death
of death.

Not just the big death
but tiny deaths, too.

All the bulbs are burning out
in my house one by one.

In living, we accrue small darknesses.

Mirror to mirror: void
where my eyes should be.

Hung mauve towel.
Vines of black mold.

Plastic ringlets steady
stained curtain infinity.

The silver shower faucet was once
a sunflower dreamed of fluorescence.

Now, downpour, no bright
for every prayer.

Gallons of black shower
(plead with God just–).

Gobs of

gobs and gobs of hair
cling to the drain.

Genuflect in the porcelain pitter-patter.

A feedback loop of weeps.

Hot water, cold water,
no water.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

Night Train in Wait

We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?

Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting

for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you

and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–

with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

The Whole World or Nothing

You suggested whiskey sours
so we left the reading
to walk the golden streets in rain
during the first warm day

which felt like hope–
a riptide cascading
through the chaos of cars
and people on city streets.

Like you, gravel is full of scars
and we trample it under our soles
without thinking.
What do we pray to but the future,

its corpuscular horseshoe
on her way? We are swift
without wind, carving footsteps
in Bukowski’s tattered ambitions.

And when we finally reach the bar’s
back patio with sour piling into our mouths
you strip to your white dress
and show me your tattoos.

We wanted the whole world or nothing.
The sun, the moon, not one or the other.
The stars’ breaths on the nape
of your neck. Every word tingles

the first time celestial bodies meet.
I am cratered with my drink,
this treat and chilled escape.
The staircase leads downward.

 

(originally published in WISH Poetry Press)