Horoscope – July 16, 2017

So, so many projects to complete
before the deadline, Taurus!

How is your pressure? Blood?
Tire? Determination will drive you

to your office parking lot, and there,
in circles, you’ll run out of gas.

 

(originally published in Califragile, Fall 2017)

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Background Actors

At the foot of the staircase to the stars–
in the back of the line of actors drunken
from delusion (I’m going to make it),
each of us with hands full of hangers,
heads full of the fame
that glimpses a star, a familiar face,
how we chosen ones flicker
on living room screens
of friends and families–
a blip, a blur so brief
we were almost never there at all.

 

(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, 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)

Work of Man

Gruesome scarecrow bore into me, wicked carrot limbs, dried snowman. This farm is seeped with the blood of the farmers but the cows are all right. Have you seen a cow’s smile? It crumples the yellow Mississippi into a zagged horseshoe. Forever we’ll remember the first game we played. The hoof felt like hardened slabs of discount deli turkey, art deco. No one won. No one is winning. The larger the city, the truer this fact. You can almost feel the weight of a tower’s collapse in its shadow, bogged shirt. Hemp gravel lines. I see the kinetic potential of kindergarten, a kinder garden than which you cribbed your tomatoes in, so stabbed by the wanderlust deer. We dug those tiny crevices with conveyor shovels. Wickets, wickets, and did the terrain ever grow out of itself like the work of man– ah, did it ever.

 

(originally published in Ping Pong, October 2015)

Workday

pure coffee pleasure
drinking work travels
camping parties get-
togethers at work when
the printer is jammed i
move the tray until the
deadlines variegating
ironic pleasures and
cogs who do not turn
sleep when moving
uninterrupted clear
jars have a shine that
lights carburetor engines
grasping understated harmonies
in Kevlar mugs in which
infested apples seek light
order menially crisscrossing
borders of yellow shades
mashing front-up wonderful
mistakes marketing harmonica-
maudlin skaters receipt
upon leaves and green
greens until the market
crashes and crashes and seventeen
times i heard Pop-Secret popcorn
pop in the breakroom microwave

 

(originally published in Chronopolis, No. 3 – October 31, 2014)