Aladdin’s

Funny, thinking back, the restaurant– hell,
the industry, those incessant phone calls
in the midst of rush, my snaking past
corners with three plates of hummus
and shawarma in aluminum, warm
from the kitchen, only to waste
in a stranger’s presence, scraps
on porcelain I’d bus, then zigzag
through the floorplan of tables.

Funny, thinking now, how little has
changed– insecure in economics,
I’ve jumped the lilypads of job
after job, the backbreaking work
of conforming, of each return home
with something new to say but I’ve
said it, I’ve said my best, my cap-
stone thesis shredded in California,
back when full of possibility–

I desire a bowl of time
loops. Cereal in my milk.

I didn’t even use silverware
in college, a joke inside a riddle
presented as a gift I constantly
unwrap, umbrellas of green
folding into myself in the rain,
suffocating, blinding, this pirouette
of place, this unfixable sedan
screaming off the shoulder
of the highway, smoke
signals ablaze and late
for work.

(originally published in Little Rose Magazine, Winter 2019)

Existential Food Poems

After reading five food poems in a row,
I paused, told the audience I get inspiration
from food. I meant I get energy, really.
At home, sometimes, I sit at the table
eating noodles and suddenly
I am at the table eating noodles!
I look at the floppy strings
on my plate and ask myself
what I’m doing. Converting
loose ends to energy, according
to education. Google tells
me to stop eating so many noodles
but to stop means less
energy– the will
to go on. These laces
tying my stomach
consumed by gastric acids
transform into aminos
that fuel me, somehow,
these noodles that don’t
make sense but somehow
allow my string of days
to keep dangling, serve
me on a plate so that
I may exist, so I can fall
in love with someone
and they can fall,
too, and steam
until we cool enough
for them to stick
their fork in me,
then wonder, what
are we doing? The
fork swivels,
gathers
a tornado
of noodles.

(originally published in Bindweed Magazine, Winter 2019)

A.S.

You still haunt my longing;
the lantern never was yet
burned louder some years
than others– certain days,

you were a faraway dream–
facing the tide, your black
hair and literature. The Pacific,
the Atlantic, the frozen

December we met again,
you said you were unstable–
ice drove us down dark streets,
engine idle in the middle of a lot.

It takes knowing how your face moves,
intimate and drunk in negative light,
our immovable stone eroding
in the wind of time.

 

(originally published in Clackamas, Spring 2019)

Further, Further

I know the pang of distance / ghost of friendship cold air
conditioned inauthentic rumblings no more / passage into
the familiar / sea / a yellow boat rocks near the Atlantic
shore / I evade the sun / seek any shade to shield myself
of affection / affected by the moon / far apart again no /
                                                                   vacation for the heart

 

(originally published in The Blue Pages, 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)

Silica

i carry infection in saliva
like a point of pride

see, my city reeks of bone

tall skeleton skyscrapers
i’m numb again

as dental drill enters me
year after year

what birthed my decays?

raised to desire new
wants every day

wanting even wanting

my dad worked at a ford factory
after the great depression

churned out a new kid
every few years

seasons of rust
spreading on steel

here’s the sunset
he’d wake us to say &

spend the days molding
the yard
rough hands on saw

that was satisfactory
to him

for me oaks are cold towers &
grass not godmade

took a clump in my mouth
from the graveyard as a child &

i swear i tasted
death
but could not digest it

i’m but a skeleton

all life’s experiences
slip through me

masticating childhood
no pondering
the future with mom and dad

scooping fries at ponderosa &

we’d always go for seconds &

mint ice cream after

 

(originally published in Burningword Literary Journal, Fall 2018)

The Drone of Faceless People

Rolling Acres mall
outside the record store
white hats enter
to leave shadows

every small step
a rattle of longing
blueprints for after
-college dreams

rosewood a tinge
in glass displays
reflecting fluorescence
so bright you sneeze

rockets then angle
toward the stars
didn’t the Etch-
A-Sketch always lure

you canvas and sky
hunched over red
tablet twisting
striated knobs

handmade lines
stretched star to
star everything
tethered

together
a fishing
wire
baited

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

Blue Beetle

shining
in the sunlight
of our driveway

I go inside
to tell Dad

come see
what
I
found

no hesitation:
he squishes
its golden
guts out

a thing like
that

he says

is nothing
more
than a nuisance

but I keep
thinking
about that beetle

impossibly one
of a kind

and today
I watched
a boring

black
beetle

scurrying
across
the pavement
of Goodale Park

and disappear
into grass

and I thought

the ground
is teeming
with beetles

if I just dig
a hole
deep enough

I might
be able
to apologize

 

(originally published in Pouch, Fall 2018)