January 20, 2018

a fog this white mess of morning driving out of Ohio
trees dressed for a funeral     per the new norm
dilapidated barns redbrown in the green

grass corpsebrown       snow an oil stain birds
couldn’t afford flights home   this time   their muddywater
wings a gunk on the canvas         of sky

the countryside is tainted

Abbey Road         scores this thread of potholes
we pass a sign      Muskingum County    initially read as
       musking gun

                                                         how bulletsmoke
rises from pores of the greendead ground
  until all we know is the death encompassing

                                 fog clears at noon
                                 birds ravage a halfdeer
                                 carcass

(originally published in South Florida Poetry Journal, Summer 2019)

2017 Mantra

Build bridges, not walls,
though bridges ice faster
than roads we traveled–
hundreds of miles,
only to boomerang back
to before, while thousands of
armed windmills gasp for air–

the sunset through the bug-
stained window moves faster
than us toward a semblance of home–
swirls of clouds quivering
into the arms of weeping
willows simply
weeping–

 

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)

Even Netflix Is in Debt

There’s a vast swath of land infected by the living
dead. The desert, the plains, the cities– all beheld
by glow of screen, and we’ve dug holes too deep
for bodies. Just pray there are no more casualties,
no gunshots, no cars striking crowds, whether in
the USA or Spain– all of this is beginning to look
universal, the hatred of our own. How we pay
for the debt the nation’s entrepreneurs designed.
There’s an endless spate of horror
films upon which to feast our eyes but look
at the people walking down your street harboring
the fears society cannot afford. There is still
ample land to lay graves– land founded on holes
we placed bodies in yet we distract ourselves
with everything, looking for the next lark
to keep us living. Under blankets in living
rooms with lovers, under stars aglow through
open window, we watch the drama unfold.
We know the protagonists will always
find a way out of suffering.
Those through the window never do.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Winter 2017)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)

Half

to cut immigration
is to cut me half

-Filipino I am already
halved quartered diced you take

a knife to my mother she keeps
a knife at her neck we both are

American in the blade of the word
I used to pretend to be more

my more-accepted half
to have to choose

is to have nothing

 

(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)