Multnomah Falls Spits Mist onto My Glasses

Six months after, it was April,
and I still lived in my Ford
after moving out of your house.

I drove to Oregon, found a waterfall
to pose in front of, my familiar wool
and cerulean jacket, a white t-shirt,
my scruffy beard.

In the photograph
the stranger takes,
I smile.

The sun glints off my face.
I wonder what you’re up to
and who takes photographs
of you– is it a stranger?

Am I a stranger now?

 

(originally published in Pif Magazine – Summer 2018)

Southbound in February

  Almost swerved to Akron
      to delay our southbound silence
          before another car skidded into steel.
                 We smoked exhaust
            with sedans which scrunched
                    around us. Wiper squeals
            revealed hymnal landscapes
                through murky glass.
              I revel in footprints buried by snow
                                             yet do not know what–
                               if our black tires composed
                                     cadenzas in the slickening slush,
                           ambulance’s red, beating
                                    bongos thumping toward us
                                            –what we could have said
                                                   that would have ever been enough.

 

(originally published in The Slag Review, Winter 2017)

Frosted Flakes

To curb today’s desire
to drink, I part the
lips of a childhood
friend– Tony the Tiger
on cardboard blue–
and rip the bag
to snow
a bowl of corn
and white.
Nintendo used
to be my fix,
controller gripped
through loud
and colorful
screens
until the light
of morning.
And when I
started drinking
I didn’t think
one day
I’d need
to stop.
I eat
bowl
after
bowl
until
I
pour
the

d

u

s

t

.

(originally published in Goat Farm Poetry Society – Edges Zine, Winter 2019)

Profile Pictures

It was easy
in college
for every profile pic
to be a drunk photo
smiling. Beer cans
in hands in a bar,
at the beach,
in a house, in
a car. We were
all young and
happy
thinking us
adults. Legally,
sure, yes.
We were.
But the me
in those photos
wasn’t thinking
about bills
the endless
stack of debt
I still cannot
afford.
Of which
I was
in those moments
accumulating.
Like snow clouds
beckoning
over Lake Erie
I hoped would
cancel class
so I could drink.

 

(originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Fall 2018)

Boredom

I inspect my bedroom’s walls for new specks
after changing dead bulbs in the low sky
of this house I’ve lived in for three years.

Airplanes have always sounded the same,
haven’t they? I’ve slept close to airports
and railroads my entire life, hear engines

coming on like symptoms no need to pay attention
to, low hum in your throat mourning out
of the night. By now you’ve watched friends soar

into the horizon to break the illusion
of life’s infinite line, seen the cord dangling
down from the clouds and sometimes

                                                                                   you reach for it

(originally published in Umbrella Factory, Fall 2018)

All We Talk About Are Bugs

Like we have nothing else to talk about.
Maybe we don’t. Tick-ridden, each word.

I have a fever. And cockroaches. So
we’re paranoid is what– that we’ll

probe too deep and dislike each other?
Or the opposite. It’s not a date. Right?

All we talk about– our bugs. My home
is filled with bedbugs. You just can’t

see them. Come over, we’ll take
a flashlight to the nooks of

closets. Strain our eyes on top
of chairs to search corners of

ceilings. Remove the bedding,
search around the pillows.

You’d think the topics would
be numerous and multiply.

Ah! A smile, a lull in conversation,
an open window. I open

wide. You pull a flyswatter
from your pocket.

 

(originally published in Thirteen Myna Birds, Summer 2018)

Stray

The way the cat looked at me
                       after his treat–

         the difference was ours has a home.

And God I am so ashamed.

                          They are the same

but I was on our unfamiliar
       porch
             swinging

a bag of sustenance

           like unlimited pleasure

                you needed

                      for survival

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Advil

I take one pill        two
to mask what’s wrong in me
these hurtful words     mouthing
sorry in the dark      I shouldn’t rub
your back       when my partner’s
on the coast       on a beach       here
it snows        yes      I know
this is no excuse      tasteless tablet
smudged slate        white mountain
I am the one percent meaning
I’m money poor      but lucky to
live in the age of modern medicine
a dentist takes a drill
to my root      and neither of us
feel anything     a surgeon cuts
into Dad’s heart         anesthetics
these aches we carry daily
the privilege      why we don’t
say sorry     when we mean it
at the drug store I buy a knife

 

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)