The way the cat looked at me
after his treat–
the difference was ours has a home.
And God I am so ashamed.
They are the same
but I was on our
a bag of sustenance
like unlimited pleasure
(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)
In Kathleen’s apartment in Oregon,
I ask her where even is home?
maybe never knowing.
I see my mom’s mown lawn
in the green fields our baseball
team travels through, my friends
in tweets spitting scores or stats.
These, I don’t care about,
but I join in discussion.
Blue hands to high-five,
then to put my phone down.
(originally published in Hobart, Winter 2018)
I dropped the screw in the tuna.
The dog got blamed. Once,
my grandma cut herself climbing
a fence and a sliver of flesh fell
into snow, which her dog ate.
I could have gifted you this.
There’s a Christmas story in there
somewhere. There was a better kind
of last meal you could have.
(originally published in I-70 Review, Fall 2018)
Listen: the Earth’s siren wails
in tones only animals like us can understand.
We are pretending we do not caress ourselves
on the bed of feather blankets.
Wings– and we call them feathers.
Our weightlessness is contagious.
A broken Bob Dylan vinyl.
Tender was the night until the day absolved it so.
If a wolf sleeps through whistle
has he lost his lust? The life
of choice. We are obese with wrong decisions
and our belts contain the weight dribbling
past our buckles.
Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky annexed
by memory. Junebugs live there in relative obscurity.
Junebugs. June bugs.
(originally published in The Oddville Press, Summer 2017)
to leave water would mean I suffocate
so I wait for orange pellets to fall almost
like rain you and I are alone most
of the time pooled in a little world
aimless from place to place
in a bowl peering through glass
to see what moves around us
swimming feels like drowning
when you come to me and I press
my face to glass trying hard to break
it to come meet you
when I flap my fins it means I am starving
not for food but to end these
lonely days punctuated by when
you surface through the waters of that
more colorful other universe like magic
my sky becomes kaleidoscopic orange
and I nearly believe I belong
(originally published in Perspectives Magazine, Spring 2017)
I scratch at doors because I hear a creature
moving in some box I have yet to lick.
Cardboard has the faint taste of forest, of hungry
bark. I have never ventured deep but the deep
knows my name, and when alone its voice
is sometimes distant but so heavy, I claw
the door’s painted wood until the woodlands stop
speaking, or someone lets me free. I explore dark
spaces and in this home I look for monsters
to flee– I run from shadows, sprinting through
the wilds of rooms wanting a chase to give
my motion meaning. Don’t get me wrong.
I’m grateful; I’m safe; I’m running from myself:
I’ve loved like vacancies in the clothes hanging
in closets. And loved like in your arms, eyes closed,
no more dark but in searching for the predator
to emerge in you– but on your bed, in this room,
in this home– there is only breathing and calm
I can’t sense in that outside world of creaking
and footsteps, of clouds rolling into thunder,
of multitudes of other things
I trust far less than you.
(originally published in York Literary Review, Spring 2017)
a horse runs
on a long treadmill
at first we say this
is not normal
but the horse runs
on the long treadmill
we normalize it
there’s that horse
on the long
(originally published in The Neglected Ratio, Spring 2017)
Yesterday we were at a pool party
attended by only a few others. It was
dog-friendly, as it was last week,
so the lone, small white dog
lapped water into his mouth
while on an inflatable raft and we
stood in silence and watched as he
drank the blue that held the specks
of fallen leaves and submerged spiders
while our beers turned warm. Last week
we were at a party in the same house
with a few of the same people but the
sun was out and I did not have to keep
wondering if you were okay, if you would
dip your feet into the clear with me and all
the people we did not know then because,
last week, a stranger in a bar did not yet
shake your body and bite you
long after you begged him not to–
no, the night before last week’s party
we danced to nineties hip-hop
inside the shadows of others until
we could not help but mine our
bodies for gold. Last week, we laughed
as the dog lapped the pool into his mouth
but watching, now, we know there are some
who force a tongue at whatever water
they see fit, how they lap and lap
until there’s nothing but a splash
of what they lapped at all.
(originally published in The Collapsar, Summer 2016)
It was tough to leave for work this morning,
collie’s silhouette usually at the top of the stairs
a shadow slinking, eyes glowing.
Your heart nearly stopped flailing its arms
as it sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.
When you watched Silver Linings Playbook
you saw your dog in the face of Bradley Cooper
those dark eyes shining in the greater darkness–
driving home with the key stabbing the ignition,
you drove wanting anything to please you.
It wasn’t in the trees or the swaying lights
or the Post-It notes crumpled in the bagless bin–
no, collie ran in circles. You reached for a treat,
your heart compiling sand and blowing glassworks–
collie on set with Bradley Cooper, his eyes
on her galvanized eyes and all she wants is ham
you’ve never seen a ham this juicy and
why am I excited about ham and
collie with her eyes makes Bradley
see the ham, want the ham,
want the ham like never before.
(originally published in Nude Bruce Review, Summer 2016)
This dog has seen you paint red the walls
and its color fade from sheetrock.
Rest. You walk butterfly wings,
each step a budding stem.
You and Jack love similarly, a dance
of tongue-and-stomp. Long-nailed
paws clomp heartbeats to the closed
door, painted white– a desire panting
for who is on the other side– and he waits,
as you have, on so many nights.
(originally published in Heartbeat, Issue 2)