When I leave, the heart will still
be the heart: the sandwich-
slapping, table-wiping, cash-
transacting, underpaid workers.
We all try to do the best
we can with what we have.
Broccoli cheddar soup is out
for the night– who am I
kidding? This was how to sell
myself for the smallest amount
possible: part-time work,
no benefits except
the benefit of not being
there more of the time.
(originally published in Northampton Poetry Review, Spring 2019)
of sharp edges:
run your fingers
along the desk
until it bleeds.
love is all
I whistle the
theme to Requiem
for a Dream
and pop pills
until my hands
butter and rum
feed me something
(originally published in The Oddville Press, Spring 2019)
Happy to finally be introduced, you said I’m proud of this architecture.
It’s true– your sketches are exquisite. In the gallery, your large displays
of heart-shaped buildings: blueprints of love in metaphorical forms.
A while ago, when I was lost and new (and you were, too), I knocked at
your door and the day led us to a festival, a sunny ninety. We drank
lemonade and walked with sour-sweet lips as ghosts through strangers.
It didn’t work out, us, but we’d see each other at shows and you’d ask me
when you’d meet my partner. Next time, I’d say, like I was ready to build
something new from the crumbles my desire likes to leave, how
to draw these ashes shapes for someone new to admire.
(originally published in where is the river, Winter 2021)
an improv game in the living
room I am screaming
someone say I am an alarm
clock or an ambulance
because my brain is hyper-
ventilating in this anxiety
pong on the lawn table this is
Los Angeles and I am scared
of everything (tsunamis
falling fronds off palm trees
car accidents and commitment)
I was trying to make something
anything up in front of you
that’s how we stayed together
for eleven months of I-love-
you yelling sand in our teeth
sunburnt toes on the shore
(originally published in The Fictional Cafe, Spring 2019)
This era of desperation breeds a palette of better patriotism, our
thieved hearts aluminum recyclables in the midst of a heatwave
rolling across Ohio, and it is true that such inspiration gnaws at
malleable love at such an intersection of life’s humble turntable
of destruction. I want to love my country; in this way, I drink to
brown it out, to fade the familiar affairs. I arrived at the morning
parade slurring words but kissed my friends’ cheeks. We huddled
in the shade waiting for the moment to pass, but it won’t until an
ultimate firework leaves us stranded with a framework, electric
in its ability to ignite. Blueberry the bartender transformed his
truck bed into a wading pool around which we barbecued and
danced, dipping into a camaraderie of bottles and hands, smoke
the ritualized haze of togetherness that allows us to continue.
(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2019)
You ask me to watch Lollipop while you vacation
in Nantucket without paying me even though this is a definite
inconvenience but I oblige and then you text demanding
picture updates a few hours after I say I’ll send one
when I’m there. You ask for news before I arrive
like hanging out with your cat is compensation.
Look, I swear I’m a cat
person. I am. What
I’m saying is I may be adaptable
but Lollipop is not. Today I stop
by to swing scooped poop in a plastic bag
around the house and dump a confetti of
special urinary chickenmix into a small bowl
and there are flies all over the house from the
first night of catsitting because when I arrived
Lollipop was nowhere and maybe I left
the door open when I searched outside, shaking
a bag of treats everywhere, only to find the cat
inside the bedframe, hangin’ under mattress
in the lingerie drawer– when found, Lollipop
sprints into a shoe closet because she is not
a person-cat, and oh my god look at you on that rug
Lolli wants a belly rub yes you do ah god damn it
(originally published in Plainsongs, Summer 2019)
This house, she won’t want
to sell. Where once voices,
now the TV knobbed up.
She raised us right
here, boiled soup
cold nights before gathering
at the table. Cold nights
now under blanket
still shivering. She won’t
cook anymore, no
guests. TV talkin’ loud
blank conversations. Least
the room flickers in
the dark. That door-shutting
sound. An actor comes
home on tv to say hello.
Mom dreams off recliner.
The show fades to black.
(originally published in CERASUS, Summer 2021)
There is no sea
(originally published in Total Eclipse, Summer 2019)
Though morning hovers with gorgeous
gray clouds, it is under thirty degrees
in Pittsburgh. The neighbors are shouting,
which fills me with an insatiable need
to party– though I know I would be
miserable in afternoon haze, drunken
lumbering through the cold rest of day.
I am awaiting a visit from my friends,
Wayne and Jess– I have been drinking
less, but I know– after the parade– we will
go for green beers at a bar, people dressed
in green around us, shouting, as we down
our glasses with a little shame, as we
pour the wealthy a little more green.
(originally published in Erothanatos, Summer 2021)
Every suburb needs a callous-
fingered harpist to bleed heaven
from her hands into her driveway,
to raindrop angels into puddles
after storms of indifference.
Imagine: lawns grow in
the pizzicato of days first plucked,
then plodding. Homes, once full
of promise, rot– bricks erode
to the sharp of strings
slowly falling from the sky.
(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)