Widow

Every night Mom drowns
in loud TV next to dusty organ
bloomed with portraits. Family’s

family, including things:
the security system greets her
when returning from the store.

The red carpet, the torn couch,
the gunky dishwasher. Coming home
from work through a sea of dark Ohio

into a reverberating house of off-white
rooms so silent the garage door screams
shut. The floors don’t creak, they wail

and faucets cry. A cabinet full
of Cabernet. A corkscrew hangs,
rusted at the hinge.

(originally published in Oyster River Pages, Summer 2018)

The Appointment of the Special Counsel

out of nowhere there’s a razor-thin wire hope
smoke from the top of the mountain and
we small spectators watching those distant trees
burn chatter among ourselves that finally there’s
a chance to reveal the truth about the source of smoke
and to be honest we’re terrified if there isn’t
a fire because we see it and wonder what else
is covered up because it’s there all around us in the air

 

(originally published in Rabid Oak, Spring 2018)

Unemployment Dirge

I have given up on adulthood this time
at least not trying to pay bills
every electronically white-licked envelope
arrives the kiss of a faceless reaper
but I’m not playing that capitalist game
of unending rain filling plastic
cups the days that spill
on plain tile to move
the needles of hairs
and dirt I never
knew was missing

 

(originally published in Foliate Oak, Spring 2018)

Apology After Drunken Blackout

The phone rings a silent coil around
the kitchen; the houseplants drink Coca-Cola
and rum. Some day soon your lover will leave
is already a dust mote dancing in the sunbeam
through your window. Carl Sagan writes from
the after-universe a love letter to the abyss and
attaches a minuet bouquet with an I’m sorry note.
How to apologize to whom we love when we are living–
rain sobs off the gutter, shrieks down city drains.
She doesn’t trust you anymore, and you didn’t come
back last night to feed your dog who cried alone in
the darkness of your home, but still he wagged his tail
in the presence of your uncertain return.

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)

I’m Coming Home

I was at Pink’s Hot Dogs
on the set of a reality show
working as an extra
when LeBron announced
his return to the Cavaliers.
I read the article repeatedly
on my sun-tinted phone screen,
each word
its own small gospel.

In my Ford in the evening,
I sat in the Ralphs parking lot
wondering if LeBron
can come home, why can’t I?

Then I reasoned
Akron’s prodigal son’s return
means more to a city
who does not know who I am
than I mean to a city
who does not know who I am

and until my name
is plastered on blue
signs welcoming weary travelers
The Birthplace of the Poet
then why can’t I
is the relationship
of an alignment
of some celestial sneeze
into a birthplace of stars

or the bloodline
between who you were
where you grew up
and who you still can become

 

(originally published in RAW Journal of Arts, Spring 2018)

Losing Another One

Christmas trees
buried
no gifts
nothing left
to unwrap
no one
needs these kinds
of gifts
no one sees
above the trees
look
there is so
much more
to be angry about
think of those
who have lost
the soup
steams the kitchen
sunken chicken
in chunks
salt boils
the tea kettles
green
the minced leaves
mint
leaves
the body
leaves
the mint plant

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018; nominated for Best of the Net)