Electrons

It is possible
for electrons like you
and me
to have a long-
lasting interaction
before the transition
to zero.
Start strong,
move fast,
conserve energy
through longer
wavelengths,
whale songs, wet
lips. Hold
until light slips
through the spaces
of our fingers:
phosphorescence.
Glow. We know
probabilities
for starting and ending
are the same.
After the initial
burst, let’s become
a more stable state
we won’t gradually
weaken.

 

(originally published in Thirteen Myna Birds, Summer 2018)

Sleep Paralysis

At thirteen I awoke to a man-sized bat
waving black-eyed wings at the edge of my bed.

Back then, I believed there were unexplainable things
in the universe. Dad would talk about guardian

angels when he meant luck explains
a kinship with the divine. He still

drove his motorcycle beyond
the age of seventy. He fell asleep

one time in the green countryside
and awoke to blurry shoelaces

of the trucker who slammed into him,
amazed my dad still alive

and the proof in scraped knee
and a busted motorcycle somehow still

operational then driven home. Dad attributed
this, like most things, to angels. I could have believed

for much longer. As a kid, I watched E.T. ride
a bicycle in the window in our lawn every day,

his brown eyes never noticing me. Always
when I pointed this presence to my sister,

he was past the point of seeing.
Soon I stopped believing.

 

(originally published in The Tau, Summer 2018)

 

Geoff Asks Me to Make Broth

he says
I’ll do the hard
part not that you
can’t then cuts
a plastic bag
with scissors
and syrup
goos out
into a metal
cylinder and
I’d rather you
do the time
intensive part
of mixing
with hot water
and hands
me a white ladle
so I begin
in slow circles
when Monique
walks over
and whispers
you’re stirring
the pot
and stays there
beside me
these last weeks
of working
there umami
broth burning
steel I lift
the red
handle up
to stop the
flow
just past
the line

 

(originally published in LEVELER Poetry, Summer 2018)

Lyft Shift (2/9/17)

driving in circles
around the city

snow caps on all cars
little mountains shivering

tiny motors no one knows
the name of anyone

only a word on a screen
a face forgotten

and city lights
there’s a light rain mixed

with snow
the roads not slick

I am picking
up passengers

at the end of the night
and no further

than I was
at the beginning.

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

In Charleston, the Day After the Shooting (2015)

I.

a statue of a dead confederate soldier
looms over the city

community signatures
on the broken cast of a thin tree

the resounding message in red
marker: LOVE WINS

(if love is a gun smoking heavenward
and if love bodies slumped in pews)

II.

a fellow wanderer asks me to photograph him
in front of the scene

he smiles

then takes his iPhone
back
among the strangers

III.

I was a Catholic boy

lost
my way as a man

yet in presence of steeple
and jagged and mighty
tragedy

arrows of prayer quiver inside me
then anger
at tourists and cameras

I know I’m part of
this exhibitionism problem

we’re a crowd of resounding bells
waiting for the next funeral to begin

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Wall, Edge, Chandelier

past the corner of this house’s Kubrick architecture
     on the couch a bundle of eyes
                               a slopping visual stain
       but it’s true. my vision is blurry
            I spent the walking sidewalk
            grapes inside my right cheek
    thinking how I want to win you.
                so romantic, you
                with a stranger in my house
                                about to
                          dine on the fruit of
                       ancient gods and I am laughing
                                            now to have the ghost
                                            within my walls, my green
                                                        heart long and longing
                                                                 lunging out my chest
                                                                       it sticks to paint
                                                                                  like spaghetti

 

(originally published in streetcake, Summer 2018)

Flowers

The most confident people I know
walk into a room and flowers bloom
from their mouths and somehow it’s not weird.
I have never been that kind of social chameleon.
In public speaking class I spoke until vines
wrapped around my neck and I coughed and
choked until I sat down. I am a little better
since then but it’s arrogant to believe I’ve snipped
this looming, twisting stem. I’m trying to be
better around strangers but I recently walked
into a public garden and a petunia tapped
me on the shoulder and said my name
and tapped me and said my name again
and when I finally looked it took
awhile for the petals to disappear
from her face to see it was a friend.

 

(originally published in *82 Review, Summer 2018)