If I had the cash to install
a giant portrait of myself
I wouldn’t want it
looking back at me either.
Keep my eyes
on those bluebirds up
judging me perpetually
in the living room,
the present me
I guess early on
I would get used to it.
Walk past the portrait
a thought. And one day
snap out from a daze staring
as the self stares away,
and then the next
in the morning’s
(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Fall 2019)
At Kelly’s, in the chokehold of August humidity,
we drink a pitcher of water before noticing–
like a brain of gum underneath a support–
a cigarette butt lodged at the bottom.
When we show our server, she shouts fucking
savages! This is why we can’t serve anything
outside. I tell my partner, if it makes you feel
better, it’s what we can’t see in the water
that will kill us. We get a free beer but, for
once, we’re aware of the toxin. It doesn’t matter,
though, being thirty-one with thirty-one years
to go. Twenty-fifty is when we will see
the clouds ignite. She says I want to say
we’ll be okay but I know there’s no way.
The Amazon’s in flames and hordes of
whales wash up on California’s plastic
shores. The water wars are coming from
actions of fascists and– the next day,
at the office, a narcissist colleague
sticks his dead cigarette into the soil of
one of our tomato plants on the balcony
outside the front door and he must think–
oh, as we find it cooling at sunset–
he thinks there will be no consequences.
(originally published in Quince Magazine, Fall 2020)
ten years ago
to be at the pool hall
with secret rum
to beach tunes
Fresh Prince remixes
to the dust we
every day inhale
at the foot
of warm oceans
(originally published in River Poets Journal, Winter 2019)
I am losing my mind in this
house– boring deterioration
of romance. Time is heavy
on the wings of expectation,
an invasion of pigeons into
the frame once marked for
a sacred arrival, a collapse
of constructed survival. The
sky strangles us with beaks,
bloodshot eyes, a crowd
hungry, hoping within
this scene’s a savior.
(originally published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Fall 2019)
I don’t know what you’re saying–
I was just baptized in sensory deprivation
saltwater. You took an Adderall
to live in your tornado of case papers,
clacking away at the keyboard buzzing
with school sentences I do not crave
to understand. From the speakers, jazz
dances uneven through honeyhive fluorescents
above us. I scoot my chair in closer
to the table, and there is a squeak either
from my movement or a clarinet falsetto.
Sometimes the world is synchronized;
sometimes a miracle I make excuses for.
I held the planet’s limestone on my neck
when I was afloat– it became weightless.
(originally published in RASPUTIN, Winter 2020)
I rented an apartment of bees
that first year in Los Angeles
sticky buzzing day and night
stingers past the turn of knob
sunny day the bees hovering
over body encircling you
paranoid optimistic dreamer
don’t leave the hive yes stay
get stung camera rolling and
action as in stasis as in days
wrapped around you burning
August blankets dripping lust
for fame everyone plays the
game gathering in droves to
hot stove hands on surface
level interaction as in in-
(originally published in Chronogram, Fall 2019)
my skin carries the radiation of phone
glow the radio. Of something static
O Arizona. Azure eyes & sandy
cries just an echo. I want to say I am
hallowed. That I carried your branches
with me too as extra arms but I am
night and limb- and lone- liness.
I am spider I am timeless. If I may
please say another thing about deserts
we share an emptiness.
(originally published in Academy of the Heart and Mind, Fall 2019)
Often, before a haircut, I make
the joke to a friend– I don’t know
if you’ll recognize me later!
In the chair, the barber holds
scissors, removes my glasses.
His form blurs in the mirror.
At the conclusion of a cut, I
must accept the physical
implications of my new self.
But my friend Kurt once said
in each moment we become
a different person, our atoms
scrambled with each second’s
footstep, our hairs scattered on
the floor– they, too, rearranging.
(originally published in Miranda House Philosophy Magazine, Spring 2021)
Wild this wind in Pittsburgh–
I am Bukowski reformed
twisting through steel
structures teeth gleaming.
Synthesis of former lives–
Columbus, Los Angeles
drunken pursuit of art
now an upstream leaf.
Marginalia within pages
of tattered library books–
I’ve so little to say you
hear a deep, empty well.
To march back into
my film-reel past
and gloss over poetry–
ghost cleaning gutters.
Allow some space
within my wanting.
My heart an old lens
zooming into the river.
(originally published in The Aurorean, Spring 2020)
Today, babies are hungry,
the spirit is crying, but all
we want is an end to war.
Some babies get fed.
This is the time to walk.
(originally published in Cirrus Poetry Review, Fall 2019)