Dream with Patchwork Moon

My love, I want to show you this strange moon:
a quilted wine and blue, half the charcoal sky–
but you are playing a game, a Crash Bandicoot

offshoot where you are a humanoid frog who jumps
and spins across 3-D landscapes. I ask you please
come outside there is a nervous crowd gathering

for this cosmic anomaly. But no one dies because
I wake and recall my childhood summers spent
on the cold, brown, teddybear carpet of my basement,

hands on controller, eyes mesmerized by polygons.
My father would slowly descend the stairs then ask
me to walk with him– as he often did the last

years of his life– that there was a whole world
out there, the world, and if I would walk once
with him he would show me, please, just once.

 

(originally published in Vagabond City Lit, Summer 2019)

The Current

There is a universe where I am
a barista or videographer or marketer

or astronomer. I could have said no–
I skipped an interview– when you asked

if I would come to Palm Springs. When
you said you know what this means if you

go, I could have pivoted and returned
to painting my rented room in sadness.

This matters. This doesn’t. This cyclical
current. Of course we’d split, even after

you said– eating biscuits at the bakery–
the universe gives what you put in.

Yes, perhaps. But I am alive, formless,
confused as the river flowing opposite,

a flight response to a hurricane I would
never fight. I stayed in Seth’s basement

for a week after. Who walked upstream
out from it was never relevant, anyway.

(originally published in CERASUS, Summer 2021)

A.M.

First thought every morning was you: we were to graduate,
set young wings to flame, then fly– but we moved back to our
childhood homes where, instead, wildfires raged through long
landlines, burning our ears in hours of silence miles apart. We tried
to make us work, but the jobs we hated we did not know how to leave.
Me, at the studio, taking photos of lovers; you, at the call center,
straining voice to strangers. How we slept through the same sunrise
in separate beds, rarely awake for the burst of morning. We tried to make
us work. We drank pots of coffee miles apart to stay awake through
the night to watch the darkness die through our windows, wary
of light, the life we had to leave behind.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Fall 2019)

Take the City, Too

you say a package was
stolen from your porch

I am just trying to stay out
of the rain

vent blowing frigid air
through this new home

& you tell me Robert witnessed
the van speeding beyond the jangled suburbs

as if thievery need be
so complicated

stealing happens
on the sidewalk

these blankets of concrete cracked
beneath high-rises

a UPS truck sputters past a pothole
right turn signal blinking, blinking

(originally published in BOMBFIRE, Spring 2021)

Can’t Strategize Depression

Chunks of chess in my brain / surgery for / inclement weather.
Sacrificing pawns for the greener good. The greener god.
I am laughing at the things you say / though they’re not funny.

Nor trying to be. But I want to be liked / and to like / and to
continue the niceties on this island. To sever the sadness / I
said I never / wanted again. But words differ from / what

happens / when you swim the sea / no shore in sight.

(originally published in COG Magazine, Spring 2019)

Medicated Anticipation

you said wait a few years
you’d move to California
by then already gone

an ill-timed applause
two hands in magnetic
motion missing

like sipping fluid through
an allergic throat closing
such lean times

the tangerine sun
sleeps til noon

didn’t your dad write
a book on the art of joy?
because it is an art

a painting with overused
blues these uppers I knew
gleaming in the froth

of your mouth

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Fall 2019)