Another Drunken Summer

Last summer, clunks of glass,
grapefruit juice across the veiled
table. We stayed drunk

through sweltering June, to cool
off with Bella Sera pinot grigio,
Tostitos, queso. How much is

too much pleasure? These half-
empty days of water we are
not eager to drink. Sit in shade

til sundown, table umbrella up
to block the cancer sun we
know. We know.

(originally published in Kissing Dynamite, Spring 2018)

McDonald’s Delivery

voila! magic! mcnuggets
at the front door a knock-
knock and bag grab
now alone at the edge
of the long kitchen table
the a/c roars on lukewarm
meat between my teeth

*

voila! magic! blood struggles through
breathing’s become an hourglass
my girlfriend says her dad had a heart
attack at thirty then gave up meat
I press a button the heater burns on

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, Winter 2019)

Remnants

You don’t hold me tight so I know you want to go.

You already let go of alcohol, caffeine, Dexter after the tumor.

My mother told me, after my father died, she would never love another man.

When she loved another man, she refused to let him die beside her.

Now he leaves her rain-soaked voicemails from Italy.

She drives to Cleveland, Kentucky, Ann Arbor, to avoid the thought of him.

Lost loves are remnants of embers but that’s it.

When I was with Amy, she drank coffee and I did not.

The mornings, now, I caffeinate myself a buzzing lantern.

Who sleeps that well anymore?

Sara tells me one of her exes nightly swallowed eight Benadryls to sleep.

Pink pills stack inside us in our battles against sleeping alone.

I have a soft blue blanket and a queen-sized bed.

When a day leaves don’t ask me to differentiate between darkness and dream.

 

(originally published in I-70 Review, Fall 2019)

Beach

same as spit
on a band room floor
poolside

without knowing   we are all
skeletons
holding information too

great to actually understand
trombone blaring
mouths into the sea

flute-marching
to conformity’s beat
suntan lotion and absurdism

smother meaningless philosophies all
over your skin   and block out the rest

 

(originally published in Ghost City Review, Winter 2019)

Grief Poetry

The summer shattered the year
Dad passed, and Mom’s grief
became the fall; to cope, she
wrote her first poetry, wrote
sheets of ice that turned to
winter months of seeking
meaning in icicles– living
alone, she praised the blades of
cold above her door, believing
Dad her angel sharp enough to
pierce the heart of loneliness.
There was no Thanksgiving
that year, no Christmas.
The frigid core of family–
she kept writing our story.
She would not let us forget.

 

(originally published in Z Publishing’s “America’s Emerging Poets Series: Midwest Edition,” 2018)

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)