Past 4 A.M. at Pizza King

wasn’t that how life
was supposed to go?
ah, college followed

the whims of fun.
it turns out I stayed out
too late in its shadow

and now capitalism
is the only one
who wants me to follow.

he says
you’re thirty now
so have some drinks

and pizza
if you want
dab the grease

with a napkin first
but don’t limit
yourself to one

 

(originally published in children, churches, and daddies, Fall 2019)

A.M.

First thought every morning was you: we were to graduate,
set young wings to flame, then fly– but we moved back to our
childhood homes where, instead, wildfires raged through long
landlines, burning our ears in hours of silence miles apart. We tried
to make us work, but the jobs we hated we did not know how to leave.
Me, at the studio, taking photos of lovers; you, at the call center,
straining voice to strangers. How we slept through the same sunrise
in separate beds, rarely awake for the burst of morning. We tried to make
us work. We drank pots of coffee miles apart to stay awake through
the night to watch the darkness die through our windows, wary
of light, the life we had to leave behind.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Fall 2019)

Profile Pictures

It was easy
in college
for every profile pic
to be a drunk photo
smiling. Beer cans
in hands in a bar,
at the beach,
in a house, in
a car. We were
all young and
happy
thinking us
adults. Legally,
sure, yes.
We were.
But the me
in those photos
wasn’t thinking
about bills
the endless
stack of debt
I still cannot
afford.
Of which
I was
in those moments
accumulating.
Like snow clouds
beckoning
over Lake Erie
I hoped would
cancel class
so I could drink.

 

(originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Fall 2018)

Editing Room

Evenings in the video lab laughing at ourselves acting in
perpetual circles the clicks of play and rewind in a dialogue
with eternity rectangular how to zoom into self with microscope
both of us learning but look at you now in the fighter jet
sky tethered to wirings of small precise instruments of war how
we live in the perpetual unknowing state of     I want you always
to come home even not to me because back then
every small moment was contained in its forever

 

(originally published in Street Light Press, Spring 2018)

Sunny Days

In memory of Chris Hull

friends don’t
wait for rainy days
to die
there is never
a metaphor
in the weather
the sun laughs
as it always does
when I receive the call
I find the nearest tree
to brace myself
with shade
it’s the only darkness
seventy-six degrees
warm breeze
the car
approaching the hospital
still takes her living
to work
at being alive

 

(originally published in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spring 2017)

The Photograph Was a Drunken Winter

slackened falls into chaos: each plod
a sobering imprint on snow

buzzing cavernous hearts
white honey swathes the air

the dewdrop pale of her shirt, arms curved
from the door in bent-seven candles, icicled

waxen breath hissing this
is the moment sculptured to ice:

a future with gluey trees barren at night,
tongues born licking telephone poles

static moments stretched to angel hair
feel like rare dreams caught in dim light

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review)