Enough

today was one of millions
of days I needed to be alone

a cloud of stars outshining
the world on the eve of its end

the dishwasher cycles through
around its own reality again

forget the parables
your knees are cold

here’s an elegy
so many mothers giving

to children we want
to please them

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Dean’s Birthday

Sometimes a Saturday is candle wax
the length from Cleveland to Columbus, a highway
of years burning blue in early spring, a handful

of flowers you hand an old friend who seems
a little aged now: a new house, a long mortgage,
a luxury car and me, unemployed,

eating pizza and fries.
He drinks red wine (party
hard weekend) –

these blood-drinks of youth.
I buy him nothing
he gives me space in return.

 

(originally published in The Heartland Review, Fall 2018)

Blue Beetle

shining
in the sunlight
of our driveway

I go inside
to tell Dad

come see
what
I
found

no hesitation:
he squishes
its golden
guts out

a thing like
that

he says

is nothing
more
than a nuisance

but I keep
thinking
about that beetle

impossibly one
of a kind

and today
I watched
a boring

black
beetle

scurrying
across
the pavement
of Goodale Park

and disappear
into grass

and I thought

the ground
is teeming
with beetles

if I just dig
a hole
deep enough

I might
be able
to apologize

 

(originally published in Pouch, Fall 2018)

Deciduous

     organ of the trees ring
                                             the heart’s synthetic beating

         the stepstep crunch
                                               of leaves a drumbreathe

                  tenderly

 

                the forest i lose
                              me          the eye leaves

 

       somewhere someone sees me

                                                        whose real
                                                                             branch

                                              of body

 

                                     how corporeal the limbs
                               these purple nights return

 

(originally published in Kettle Blue Review, Fall 2018)

Notes on a Poem at a Bar

Here is my true intention / inability:
capture your beauty in the whites between words.

I scribble words: egg, mountain.
                  Neither the creamy expanse of an egg in a pan
                  nor the peak of mountain in twilight
                  conjure the essence of you.

I’ve searched for stars in the dictionary.

And your brown eyes search me for answers.
                  I have none. I’ve scribbled out
                  attempts in red pen.

Only if I rise godlike out of body will I (perhaps)
in the sky simplify / complicate language enough
to describe your infinite(simal) beauty.

These plentiful dice roll combinations of words.
These few.

I don’t rise. I’m here beside you
wondering if I should utter my thoughts
like a prayer to you.

Then, years from now, maybe
I’ll guess what I said and write the poem then.

 

(originally published in Delphinium, Summer 2018)

After-Work Binary

I know we need to decompress because
there’s a multitude of zeroes airplaning
from our mouths while a jet drones above
and my heart is 01001010010 you tell me
your dad had a heart attack at 30 I hear
murmuring between my valves throat
clenched I want to kiss you but the
world is on fire and I want to turn
you off and on and off and on again

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Winter 2019)

The Busier the Kitchen the Filthier the Dishes

Your lunch spot becomes a haven on the ground
level of a tower between towers on rainy workdays.

Your eyes strained at the sight of a waterfall
of text and maybe you missed
an important error in copy
marketed to clients. Here, though,

the dishwasher sprays a thousand plates,
aiming spouts at cheese stains hardened
from sitting by the garbage in
the place where discarded trays should be.

Water pressure removes ceramic sin
eventually, an industrial machine
humming in silver efficiency,
skin rinsed beside it.

Glasses that pass the spot test emerge,
steam rising, but meat lodged between
prongs is wrestled out with wet finger.

Your fork drips from the steak
just in a salesman’s mouth.

 

(originally published in Stickman Review, Spring 2018)

Memory

Inconsequential some things I remember–
each World Series winner
of the past forty years or, say,
brushing my teeth last month, blood
in my spit, then finding the measured
infinity of my eyes in the mirror.

I forget most things about my father
most days.

Sure. I remember
the gray-red beard,
his crooked back, faded jeans.
The freshwater scent of Polo Blue.
And those brown, gentle eyes–
but his voice?

Mixture of sediment and tire
smoke rising from gravel,
a ‘55 Ford Thunderbird fading from view.

I started journaling to remember better
but now write poems under dim lamp on my desk.

(Years later, you know which
one. Gold, curvable neck. A thrift store.
But you’re still no good
with the finer details.)

A waterfall of my father. Illusions
of life doodle-sketched
in some spacey lobe of my mind.

I wonder: do I give myself enough
credit? What’s worth remembering?

I am inside a coffee shop, writing,
surrounded by people I won’t recall.
I look for a subject. A gray, old man sits
on the patio with book and beagle
yet never goes inside to buy anything.

I pay for him. I pay him
in remembering.

 

(originally published in Wizards in Space, 2018)

Lunch with an Old Friend

wish I still knew how to talk about games
movies television sports

blue fish waddling onto soil of questions trudges
leaves bodyprints wet move

closer to some common thread we may yet find
yet know a fishing line in the reel of your hand

mouth brain our friendship was incorrigible
as the moon in a poem in a lit mag

super nintendo and the cement unfinished
scent of basements carpeted staircases doritos

always going down down down
affection every thump downward

like the rest of life tumbling
through deserts of thought mist sandstorm

the sun wrangles some truth out of stranded
windows translucent sunlight

shifting across the wooden table
of distance time summers

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

Coma

Bleeding nose.
Crooked smile.

I will run you under water.

Your carved, concrete face.

Clothes you did not wear: tulip.

Leave your red suitcase on the floor.
The fanny pack, too.

Soft whistles: ghostly silk of burnt ember.

I am the only one you never needed.

Saliva on your bottom lip.

A hole.
A pillow.

We sat warm on elongated bus rides.

Followed barren trees along the highway to places we won’t.

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)