In Pittsburgh, the First Time,

you told me Friendship is a road
split by two roads, parallel to Liberty,
and I told you that was a poem,
but you said, no, I’m just giving you
direction, and I looked up from your eyes
to the green sign reading Friendship Ave
and knew what you meant. Friendship–
we had yet to spend our first night
in the city, one that would end in
a dark cocktail bar for a dance party
that never materialized. In the morning,
we rode rented bicycles with bent
spokes and a click in their spinning
and I could only follow your lead
and cycle through streets still unfamiliar
to me– we weaved through lonely roads
to the Strip District, then stopped
at the Sixth Street Bridge to admire
the glimmer of the river that warm
winter day and continued until
we found the hill to Randyland
too steep to ride so, off our bikes,
we walked side-by-side up the path
until reaching our destination;
we locked our broken bikes
and kept walking.

 

(originally published in Bindweed Magazine, Winter 2019)

The Last Poem I Will Write in 2017

& the Louis Armstrong vinyl gravels What a Wonderful World
while my lover & I sing along in frogvoice & my roommate bakes
pecans in yellow pajamas & dances the Charleston once the track
changes & the mutt watches her & the black cat peers out above
a cardboard box’s walls like she’s protecting herself from death &
how little she knew about how close we all were & still are & what
we can do to further protect ourselves coat our shells in olive oil
salt sugar and rosemary / how the shell of the year could have tasted
like fatty nuts resembling healthy & how this is the last day we can bite
fully into the year & the record spins another new track & how innocent
each seems in the vinyl’s foggy trumpets & nostalgic drums spinning slowly
out our ears into the silence that overtakes the world

(originally published in Jenny, Fall 2018)

 

Pins

Cigarettes and your hair I tangle myself in our scribble of night,
bar patio, cheap beer until taxed. I’m saying the gunk in my heart
will kill me before you, these smoke-breath evenings the steady
rhythm of the planet. So I’m asking you to come in. The steering
wheel on your car spins in a forever rotation, circles and circles
spilling exhaust like a blanket over this dim, confusing street.

 

(originally published in Corvus Review, Fall 2018)

Humanity Is a Pre-Existing Condition

tell your father to pull out, tell your mother
to hide. there are children of your children

who exist in an illness of blood,
bone, skin, hair, and lung.

there is a barren landscape–
stone predated ocean,

before the earth was
sick with smoke, plastic.

bacteria teemed on this rock
like an unstoppable infection

that infected power
to make powerless those infected.

 

(originally published in 45 Poems: for the Revolution, 2019)

2014

Of course I remember how to be alone,
how to drag a lawn chair out to smoke
a shore and offer loneliness a bottle.

But there you would meet me
on a staircase of sand and we’d
gaze at the stars, meld into soft

landscape, cheek nuzzled in
a palm, starfish digging into
the sandwarm face of earth.

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Summer 2018)

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.

 

(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2018)

60%

to stay alive I must believe I am water
inside my own body inside the river

my living an arrow shot into the forest
ghost slashed open by every stranger

who claims to walk on water when
nothing but air parting is the motion

of feet scrambling to become some
sacred proclamation it is not

 

(originally published in S/WORD, Fall 2018)