Summer Flu

When I come home from work,
you ask me– drunk– to turn on
music, shoot tequila with lime.
But my stomach hasn’t settled
after a long day in the plague.
Today, in the office– the blue-
faced accountant lumbered into
his white pick-up truck mid-day
to go home. Gabby insists the
devil’s inside her. Natalie says
she’s walking on string. Jim–
healthy since 2014– told of a
friend who had bird flu and
survived, but lost a thumb
(years later being something
even he could laugh about).
But I feel fine, beside the knot
in my gut. I am told to eat bread,
rice, applesauce, and toast to settle
the stomach, but I choose burger,
rare, because I want to sail a shore
with risk. To fight fire with…
I know I live in raging flames.
But everything around me
seems tame and far away–
cancer, car accidents, shootings.
This is what people joke about.
We assume we’ll see tomorrow
those who leave today. But look
at the bags under our eyes, prune
skin we are ourselves, sapped of
sun within bricks of artificial light.

 

(originally published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Fall 2019)

Past 4 A.M. at Pizza King

wasn’t that how life
was supposed to go?
ah, college followed

the whims of fun.
it turns out I stayed out
too late in its shadow

and now capitalism
is the only one
who wants me to follow.

he says
you’re thirty now
so have some drinks

and pizza
if you want
dab the grease

with a napkin first
but don’t limit
yourself to one

 

(originally published in children, churches, and daddies, Fall 2019)

Late-Stage Capitalism

Worth inextricably tied to the throttle
I am unable to press forever and
ever, amen, where to lie
down and get some rest? Hallelujah,
livin’ by the bottle without drinking
anything alcoholic, not tonight
at least, not before the long drive
to work, paved highways, praise,
hell on the range is to pay
all your bills at once
and wait a month.

(originally published in Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Summer 2022)

Hilton Garden Inn

I had to refuse your hotel room, middle of the infinite
August evening. I was new in a city of ever-rising water

and you came to me, promising a raft. I couldn’t forget
finding the stars with you beyond all this light pollution

as we floated on our backs in your leased pool. When
you told me you were lost, too, I didn’t think you meant

you’d say no to your forever lover in the fog on a beach
in New Hampshire. I thought we’d wait much longer.

(originally published in Monterey Poetry Review, Summer 2020)

Welcome

I walked your stairs up  off
snowy street     you greeted me
I’ve got something    you

don’t have      besides     I remember
the baby’s birth your sister crying red
tears I felt nothing in that hospital only

a month before we said for good–  I must
have realized I was not in love I am not part
of this family in the annex chatter

what a joy   this new life
screaming

 

(originally published in Datura, Fall 2019)

Courier

Delivering packages–
I see names, not
always faces, but you,

I know your name
too well, your face in my
mind a ceaseless rain.

I knock on your door–
your dog barks,
wags his tail

when he sees me
through the window. I do
not stay for a signature.

I walk briskly
to my van and drive
to my next ping,

somewhere deep in
the city, another box
with a stranger’s name

on a different, faceless porch.


(originally published in Uppagus, Spring 2021)