You Wanted to Practice Kissing Dave

For when the time comes,
you said & so, behind an oak
in his backyard, we tangled
tongues to the tune of the
party’s constant screaming,
heart-red Solo cups
separate and scattered

 

(originally published in WINK, Winter 2020)

Giant Portrait

If I had the cash to install
a giant portrait of myself
I wouldn’t want it
looking back at me either.
Keep my eyes
on those bluebirds up
and away!
My gaze
judging me perpetually
in the living room,
the present me
already judging.
I guess early on
I would get used to it.
Walk past the portrait
without registering
a thought. And one day
snap out from a daze staring
as the self stares away,
and then the next
in the morning’s
mirror– cracked,
smeared with
fingerprints
and dust.

 

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Fall 2019)

Dieback

At Kelly’s, in the chokehold of August humidity,
we drink a pitcher of water before noticing–
like a brain of gum underneath a support–
a cigarette butt lodged at the bottom.
When we show our server, she shouts fucking
savages! This is why we can’t serve anything
outside. I tell my partner, if it makes you feel
better, it’s what we can’t see in the water
that will kill us. We get a free beer but, for
once, we’re aware of the toxin. It doesn’t matter,
though, being thirty-one with thirty-one years
to go. Twenty-fifty is when we will see
the clouds ignite. She says I want to say
we’ll be okay but I know there’s no way.
The Amazon’s in flames and hordes of
whales wash up on California’s plastic
shores. The water wars are coming from
actions of fascists and– the next day,
at the office, a narcissist colleague
sticks his dead cigarette into the soil of
one of our tomato plants on the balcony
outside the front door and he must think–
oh, as we find it cooling at sunset–
he thinks there will be no consequences.

(originally published in Quince Magazine, Fall 2020)

At Crazy Mocha (Shadyside)

I don’t know what you’re saying–
I was just baptized in sensory deprivation
saltwater. You took an Adderall

to live in your tornado of case papers,
clacking away at the keyboard buzzing
with school sentences I do not crave

to understand. From the speakers, jazz
dances uneven through honeyhive fluorescents
above us. I scoot my chair in closer

to the table, and there is a squeak either
from my movement or a clarinet falsetto.
Sometimes the world is synchronized;

sometimes a miracle I make excuses for.
I held the planet’s limestone on my neck
when I was afloat– it became weightless.

(originally published in RASPUTIN, Winter 2020)

Hive

I rented an apartment of bees
that first year in Los Angeles
sticky buzzing day and night
stingers past the turn of knob

sunny day the bees hovering
over body encircling you
paranoid optimistic dreamer
don’t leave the hive yes stay

get stung camera rolling and
action as in stasis as in days
wrapped around you burning
August blankets dripping lust

for fame everyone plays the
game gathering in droves to
hot stove hands on surface
level interaction as in in-

action

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Fall 2019)

Sonoran

my skin carries the radiation of phone
glow the radio.  Of something static

O Arizona.     Azure eyes & sandy
cries just an echo.   I want to say I am

hallowed. That I carried your branches
with me too as extra arms but I am

night and limb- and lone-     liness.
I am spider I am timeless. If I may

please say another thing about deserts
we share an emptiness.

 

(originally published in Academy of the Heart and Mind, Fall 2019)

My Barber Says Hello in Public

Often, before a haircut, I make
the joke to a friend– I don’t know
if you’ll recognize me later!

In the chair, the barber holds
scissors, removes my glasses.
His form blurs in the mirror.

At the conclusion of a cut, I
must accept the physical
implications of my new self.

But my friend Kurt once said
in each moment we become
a different person, our atoms

scrambled with each second’s
footstep, our hairs scattered on
the floor– they, too, rearranging.

(originally published in Miranda House Philosophy Magazine, Spring 2021)

Film Industry Interview While Walking Bloomfield Bridge

Wild this wind in Pittsburgh–
I am Bukowski reformed
twisting through steel
structures teeth gleaming.

Synthesis of former lives–
Columbus, Los Angeles
drunken pursuit of art
now an upstream leaf.

Marginalia within pages
of tattered library books–
I’ve so little to say you
hear a deep, empty well.

To march back into
my film-reel past
and gloss over poetry–
ghost cleaning gutters.

Allow some space
within my wanting.
My heart an old lens
zooming into the river.

 

(originally published in The Aurorean, Spring 2020)