my eyes been tired recently can’t sleep
though I seen how you wept fatigued
on the bathroom floor wet tile &
we went to your bed the dog followed
& pressed paw against belly then
sighed & snored in a rhythmic breathing
we tried to do the same
(originally published in The Virginia Normal, 2018)
Florida’s coast the horizon gunmetal
and the gales drive me into a house
where I ramble in garbled non sequiturs
about God highways marijuana to a cop
whose intent is to arrest me but he says
he does not have the authority yet
I say you’ll get there then after
the wreckage the cop works as a clerk
in the city’s only shelter I ask
if there’s room and he says not yet
(originally published in Hollow Tongue, Spring 2018)
The whole year has been hurricane season
in this nation of bayous haunted by ghosts
of cowboys shooting bullets into the clouds,
gunsmoke in the air, then a disaster of rain.
Save us, God, from these dark clouds looming–
there are too many more bodies to save.
(originally published in The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Summer 2019)
out of nowhere there’s a razor-thin wire hope
smoke from the top of the mountain and
we small spectators watching those distant trees
burn chatter among ourselves that finally there’s
a chance to reveal the truth about the source of smoke
and to be honest we’re terrified if there isn’t
a fire because we see it and wonder what else
is covered up because it’s there all around us in the air
(originally published in Rabid Oak, Spring 2018)
did you see me?
(originally published in Canyon Voices Literary Magazine, Spring 2018)
On the back patio, a cricket chirps beneath
the dirt of graying leaves– September’s chill.
Most days, dust becomes the clouds, this habit
of years knowing you, gone. The blue crickets
strum the cold death of summer– violins. I walk
the perimeter of fence to hear your heartbeat,
shrill– a shiver in the search for permanence.
Childhood: the crickets cry. A car door slams.
Footsteps twist through the crackle of leaves.
The old house hides the light, dips me in
worry: when crickets stop, ashes become
wind– the hymn. The lament of sparrows,
the creak of a gate, the thrum of a plane.
The unbearable passing of another year.
(originally published in Furtive Dalliance, Winter 2018)
Upon the gum’s shore,
a body beaches–
abscessed tooth of
How the mouth learns
Soon, this is ritual.
let bleed from morning
The dentist says
don’t drink– so
consume the ocean
of the night
yourself to sea.
(originally published in former People, Winter 2018)
Don’t peep the flag, its withered stars &
snakelike stripes a windsail blown to hell–
cleats in fake grass, the dead broil of fall.
(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)
I have been trying to cough up the bald eagle
lodged in my heart, but only feathers have landed
wet on this dirt. I love this country, but this is too white
for me to say. Too long have I been silent in privilege
while our nation’s darkest forces– white-winged
and fire-breathing– cast their manifest, the harming
kind of loudness. There is no one in my life who
admits agreement with white supremacy, but I also
know there must be– and if silence is complicity,
I must be no longer. So I cough out the beak, the flag,
the gun whose silent bullets I have already fired.
I am so sorry for the silence–
everyone I haven’t known I have hurt.
(originally published in Rise Up Review, Winter 2018)
Driving west to Columbus from my partner’s house
in Pittsburgh early morning and on I-70 around six
in the rearview there’s a giant burst of orange light nearly
deafening in its glory and my first thoughts are fire and fury
then you’re gone but no it’s a heavenly sunrise and I can’t
remember the last time I witnessed the sun rise though a few
days ago she and I were in Vermont about to hike an
overlook before sunrise to watch it but we couldn’t will
ourselves out of bed and what a world to wake to now
driving alone this big dramatic ball of fury revealing its
magnificence bathing land in light before it softens
how it could have been one or the other
a burst of beauty or unspeakable tragedy yet from a distance
a bomb might seem as beautiful and harmless as a sunrise
at least until the smoke how with fire too there’s a kind
of enchantment but for this a split second then the anguish
and fury for this sunrise greeting a thousand grieving days
(originally published in Old Red Kimono, Spring 2018)