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)

Stomach-Something

The growth inside you, you can only
guess exists– the strengthening

malignant allium a tumor blossomed
& when your stomach fails to digest

you leave your house in pain to meet
me at the bar & fuck, you needed a job

with benefits but I, too, lack insurance
& down downers at happy hour. You

tell me nothing solid settles
anymore. What you eat eats you

& I fear, soon, you will not eat.

(originally published in Agapanthus Collective, Spring 2021 – nominated for Best of the Net)

And Yet the Strings

Again, a rainbow sprouting from your violin–
no, it’s no light. You never wanted to mother.
Music was the way– adagios hanging from
the clouds. But God had something in store–

                                                                come on.

What happened was we were drinking herbal tea
and you told me of new pregnancy within these
silent walls of our favorite coffee shop and I said
I’m sorry, I’m sorry because I didn’t know what

else to. And you said it’s okay, it wasn’t you, just
I had to tell someone. Because you no longer
write symphonies. The instrument collects dust in
your closet– where’s the music? We ask. You

answer: inside, swelling. If there’s one thing
you must hear, she will be a cadenza.

 

(originally published in Chiron Review, Fall 2020)