My Father Was a Beekeeper

I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.

In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.

He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.

In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.

Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen

to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.

Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando

through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–

honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies

heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)

*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology

Dog on the Patio

Whenever I let the dog out
onto our small back patio
on sunny afternoons
and he lays on familiar brick

scratching his ears,
nose curious and wandering,
I remember my father

who, in the endless days of retirement,
learned the lawn better
than his calloused palms:

every humpbacked tree and drooping limb,
every snake and gopher hole,
every new and fallen anthill,
every cobweb on the lamppost,

where to find toads after rain,
how to catch them–

when he did not strive to create utopia
by chiseling trees into magazine models,

I often found him on a patch
of freshly-mown grass,
scratching his smoky, sun-basked beard,

waiting for the wind to speak,
to say more to him than I ever did.

 

(originally published in Black Elephant Lit, Spring 2016)

Short Return to LA

With every step, the air parted
and spoke your name.
Smog and all, would you forget

the jagged alleys where
we fermented, became wine?
Its knife cut ribbons, red

repelling the pressure of four A.M breathing.
Driving home from San Francisco down the coast,
each Joshua tree prayed

to a vastness greater than the desert.
The long, Pacific vistas became the sheen
of old Mustangs caught beneath shadows

of Wilshire’s vacant towers.
Our heels kicked dust
and browned the sky–

ever were the hours sand
on the beach, infinite and pearling
a microscopic glint…

the ocean still haunts–
its salt so embedded
in our skin.

 

(originally published in Rust+Moth, Spring 2016)

How to Hit on Ladies

suck in the vacuous space
separating the lines of the
ceiling and the hard cross
of vagary carpet mites –

wave the dueling paintbrushes
until the rims break but ever
so coquettishly whisk
the centipede eyelashes –

twist the crescent mouth to hark
the worthy obeisance of
patriot songs in a way that
conducts mosquito perseverance –

patch the augered suitcase leaking
carrot water but do it so
the bullish cockroach shells
remain intact and walking –

reassure her that the future
is a flowing faucet unhinged
like the music of the Grecian
harmonica in gathered cicadas –

 

(originally published in Euphemism – Vol. 11, Issue 1)

Blue Digger Bee

do blue digger bees buzz like honey bees do
or like jazz from tinny speakers
the city night starves for jazz
just a little touch finger on palm
yes I am over your plaid cheeks
like physically my eyes are exhausted
the out-of-order escalator will move no further
yes we waded in pastel watercolors
soft peal of wetting paint
temperance of modern rain
kestrels singing in forever air
tints of cerulean debasing the feather coat
deftness of a painter’s hands
what loneliness in the canvas will glimmer in a gallery of twenty-first century still life
that is real
the mixture of white and black paint stain so entwined in the fingers gripped by brush
the challenge of how do you make this Vietnamese-man-sitting-alone-at-a-table as compelling
as a bucket of salt dipping from the sky
I think of a plodding pizzicato on a yellow glass harp
children in red shoes lining up for a king-sized carousel
our teeth are the strings on the replacement years from now
somehow the present is pregnant with the future
somehow my mouth is fanged to nearly ask
fingers hold music that has not been heard
arpeggio flower petals drifting in the wind
umbrage in the gutters
fingernails recycle them into leaves
the digger emerges from sand
and creeps back into its widowed sepulcher

(originally published in Prong & Posy, Issue 2)

Clothes on the Bed

the room infiltrates us / fabrics and hangers / bedroom who is this / who are you i / don’t want you / to leave / i / haze / the fog / machine whirs / the pillow / smells like morning / orange banana strawberry / smoothie sweat old / and citrus / the blender whirred / like the black drawer / pulled in and / out / the routine is / the blue / sheet draped / stained forever / the blue / digital alarm / never woke us / sit / sit / black leggings / where are you going / healthy healthy / we draw lines / the visible line / the horizon / with those smoky faraway / buildings / the end is / never coming / we cannot see it / from where we sit

 

(originally published in The Legendary)

Caesura

Every road has a finite end, just mud and sky, daytime
if you’re lucky, night looming beyond the paling horizon.

Maybe there is a barren tree, branches dancing
to a slow sonata, a love song only the two of you

know, the earth calmly listening. If you can plant
your naked feet into the ground, you will hear

the earth hum as it spins faster than you will ever
move, and though it always seems like stasis, you hope

it never stops, remains a puzzle
merely a misstep from disarray.

 

(originally featured in Common Ground Review, Vol. XVII, Issue II)

Meditations on Sleeping in My Car

Paradise is worse than this. I’ve pissed
in the golden streets of Beverly Hills.
The stars depart their private cabs,
shoes on the ground. I’ve pissed in beach sand
with the waterbirds, the full balloon
at sunrise, wind swaying. The neighborhood
has my back. I spit fish fluoride
into grass. Splotches of next-day death
in circles brown and black. Windows fog. Yeah
I’m an airplane in a cloud. Should’ve wrapped that scarf
around my neck until my head fell off. The night is
a broken refrigerator, top shelf. Tell that to the rotting
trunk sushi. Still, some spiders creep through cracks and
keep the feet and urine smells out. Bent to a backseat
sockball and time is an envelope I hand to a stranger.
How his home stinks of sweat and mildew
and old Havarti. Fiona has crank windows
and that new car smell and floating dust.
I can’t spit enough. Blame it on the vermouth.
In the morning, I floss my coal moon fingernails
with flamenco strings. Neighbors run
past but who needs pants.
Say hello to the father and his
baby in the stroller. Say hello
to the fleshy whites. Say
hello to everlasting days
of luxury where the days
don’t end, the nights never
end, again and again
the fishing rod window
cranks, to invited crows–
the feasts of mud– say
hello and wave and caw.

 

(originally published in Prong & Posy, Issue 2)