Forsythia

The days when we would lay
on blue towels by the beach
combing through our Merriam-Webster
holding every fascinating word by the stems in our mouths,
our vibrancy was inseparable from gardens
full of hyacinths and rhododendron and zinnias
and, yes, forsythias, all these flowers in our hometowns
we never knew the names of
until we saw the words on sand-shorn pages,
said the names out loud, grasped endlessly
for petals in each other. No, we bloomed
laughter from our throats, planted seeds
into pits where absence grows in ensuing Aprils.
We never knew what words might appear
on Scrabble nights hunched over grids of possibility and–
strings of letters string surprising words together.
Marionettes, spider webs, violins, shoelaces,
your hair among the rules of nature, and nurture,
here nurturing the garden, here the home
where we tend other flowers– all my love,
I repeated. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia.
But those beach days were distant, the tide slurring
softly alongside my returns from long unexplainable workdays–
all my love, I repeated. For Cynthia.
Wooden tiles tornadoed to the floor, slapping
the carpet with words we had not invented yet–
there is no remedy for lost trust. The flame
already sleeps in the bed of the mouth.
Cynthia, Cynthia. I did not know a Cynthia–
but I had never been able to name a forsythia
in the wild. The next time I see one
will feel like cheating. Nothing too-known is magical–
there is wonder in inventing nomenclature,
that a word like forsythia can only be made
in moments like anesthesia, with darkness descending
like the cigarette clouds of a severe storm when, in the drift
into a new consciousness, a lilac floats your mind’s pond–
a lilac, maybe, though that’s not what you want,
and maybe, in the distance, you see the blossoming
yellow that accompanies spring, the air golden around it–
the beauty that’s grander than words.
You wish you never learned the name for it.

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2017)

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)

Why Dogs Would Be Great Film Directors

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)

 

Golden Gate

I listened, during that foggy morning stroll
on the Golden Gate, when you alluded
to what it must mean to jump,
how it must feel to fall.

The foghorn blared every five minutes
from some ship we could not find beneath us.
We peered our heads over the low railing
and inhaled the gray.

Red telephones rang in our heads.
I can still hear the ringing
from the hotel’s broken phone–
thin wires dangled into lines

on our palms, curved and infinite–
an atlas to guide the whispers
we cupped into our hands
at night.

I feared faraway screams
or the deafening sound of cymbals, shards
of metal launched from the hinges
of what was thought secure–

I did not expect
in an instant, without percussion–
I did not expect the fog, how sterile
it seems, like the afterlife, how it turns

the familiar into silhouettes–
to make this any easier.

 

(originally published in riverbabble, Issue #28, Winter 2016)

10514 National Blvd

the couch a forlorn slinky
stagnant. f-stop set to zero. focus:

predestined flickering lights
where dreams meet swan
matches and peel, lit & untethered

jaunty flows
the air beneath
the vacant couch

warrior of staleness & mildew

ambassador to dust-covered curtains–

shards of dreams
in beams of sun
stream into the room; at least
what is breathed, what can be seen
through blinds in deep sleep–

 

(originally published in VerseWrights)

Diamond-Shaped Boxes

because I repeatedly disregard that which is shaped like a diamond
to be a diamond,

I will flirt with the skateboard girl
who zooms away

& lament our love, lost
as yesterday’s blackened ganja.

living on the beach,
scraping sand
for a seagull’s Dorito–

we are crevices in the Santa Monica boardwalk.
we slip out from ourselves
without knowing

yet know ourselves sunken
deep in the tar ocean
& yet, somewhere, still there

from many years of being the ones
who collect what others discard,

making space in our own diamond-shaped boxes

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, February 2016)