We Try on Masks at Dollar General

Which is to say we kissed many strangers
today, so many mouths without knowing.

Both of us date someone else now, though
lock eyes through pinholes of cheap latex,

despite the guises’ vacant stares– these two,
skeletons. Admire the wrinkles of bendable

skull-skin. Remember our bones– last summer,
our bodies thin crackers. Could snap first sink

of snow but we survived last winter, the fall
of our alcoholism, nearly a year passed,

still fighting. I miss the bricked patios
of our Old North bars, sloshing ice cubes

around until disappearing into fog.
Only now, with new identities,

do we walk through the door.

 

(originally published in Midway Journal, Spring 2018; Nominated for Best of the Net)

Apology After Drunken Blackout

The phone rings a silent coil around
the kitchen; the houseplants drink Coca-Cola
and rum. Some day soon your lover will leave
is already a dust mote dancing in the sunbeam
through your window. Carl Sagan writes from
the after-universe a love letter to the abyss and
attaches a minuet bouquet with an I’m sorry note.
How to apologize to whom we love when we are living–
rain sobs off the gutter, shrieks down city drains.
She doesn’t trust you anymore, and you didn’t come
back last night to feed your dog who cried alone in
the darkness of your home, but still he wagged his tail
in the presence of your uncertain return.

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)

Sunshine Daydrinking

I need to break the association
this first day over forty in January
sun wicking everything orange
and melting snow     which had mountained
around Columbus     this past year’s been
climbing     an unending goal since I gave up
drinking       through a Lent that lasts forever

I stopped believing in God early on
and instead chose to believe in sacrifice
first my health     now my vice    the nights
when I lose myself in another religion
in rapid ascent up blackout mountain
waiting for the harness to snap

 

(originally published in Edison Literary Review, 2018)

Overlooking the Ravine

you practice the scorpion on your back porch
while your cat wanders about like she has
somewhere to go and we don’t

you stretch the sky darkens and fireflies
illuminate the fence the cat wants to scale
I ask what of your qualities you see in her
you say she’s an affectionate asshole

I drink another of your beers we have
talked for weeks about how I never
seem comfortable anywhere I go with anyone

you don’t think I’m a vine that has found
its wall to climb even cats want walls
they know their limits I’m not sure what mine are
how high or should I even try

then what?

 

(originally published in Roanoke Review, Spring 2018)

I Forgot I Was Drinking

beer half past noon listening reading
to sam sax’s on alcohol poem

after the final line in one hand
a bottle to my lips my body a future
compromised

i promised mom i’d outlive her
& it’s going well so far

but these low-hanging clouds
are moving fast and there are drips
of sky becoming foggier

sara says we shouldn’t have drank last night
a monday
but the beers at woodlands are bargain $2 drafts

o genie whisk me to an open field
with flask construct a crumbling house
at the center where i lay drooling the day’s
indiscretions

my mouth a volcano
concrete spat into my palms

the heaviness of me
drops

 

(originally published in Flypaper Magazine, Winter 2018)

Dead Whale

Upon the gum’s shore,
a body beaches–
abscessed tooth of
sand.

How the mouth learns
to chew
diamonds–
the glint
of blood.

Soon, this is ritual.

Don’t confess
your ailing–
let bleed from morning
into next.

The dentist says
don’t drink– so
consume the ocean
of the night
and float
yourself to sea.

 

(originally published in former People, Winter 2018)

Earth Angel

microphone in hand
                                        the gutter of volumetric gain

to finally sing gin (out of the system
                                                                         sky an ocean of lights)

the star made of you-matter: gold voice hot collision
where bar’s empty souls listening clink glasses

                            then rise in song to celebrate your living

Getting Sober

If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

 

(originally published in Rattle, Winter 2018 – nominated for Best of the Net)