July

summer mugs me every time
muggy breath and hug of sweat
so hug me hold me let me know
I’m not a cloud who will sink
into a vapor or wave hissing mist

an atmosphere of melancholy hot
days that teleports me to L.A.
stargazing fame because anyone
who meant anything existed far
away celebrities or friends who

wait when you come home to drink
torpedoes in the square then explode
with laughter when telling them how
you lived everyday in a pile of socks
and neverending sunshine

 

(originally published in Abstract Magazine, Spring 2018)

North Carolina Wedding

I don’t know anyone
but the gnats swarming
around me &

the stranger
next to me calls them
wedding bugs

marriage begins with wings
then seeks blood
sucking glimpse of sweat

on skin sugar all the single
guests swat at the air
around them familiar

the way we complain
of heat so beg
for rain to form in

these shrouds of clouds
to cool us down
it’s nice to have something

tangible to wish for

 

(originally published in Razor Literary Magazine, Spring 2018)

 

Let’s Make a Deal

At a McDonald’s in Ohio the TV
plays Let’s Make a Deal & two
old white men are enraptured mouths
open in awe of the studio energy
around Wayne Brady & I
know he’s happy but the audience
is fake I was paid to be
fake in L.A. forty dollars cash is all
it takes for one to clap clap
mid-clap three hours palms
burn & lucky luck even those
who somehow chosen sneak
onto stage know they did
not bring the green glittering
top hat they’re told to wear & now
their hair holds dead rabbits
the producers keep killing
& we’re laughing it’s funny
they tell us & when I was on
the show they asked me to whoop
my gutted-fish stomach out
& of course I yelled the wrong
numbers in the game & brand-
new sedans were revealed
as what I could have had
had I said six instead of
seven & then collected my
forty in line alongside everyone
returning loopy props to
props I know my mom is proud she
shows me & my colorful howling
crowd to happy rooms years
after the date I’m biting into
McNuggets with gold teeth
& cavities

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018)

I’m Coming Home

I was at Pink’s Hot Dogs
on the set of a reality show
working as an extra
when LeBron announced
his return to the Cavaliers.
I read the article repeatedly
on my sun-tinted phone screen,
each word
its own small gospel.

In my Ford in the evening,
I sat in the Ralphs parking lot
wondering if LeBron
can come home, why can’t I?

Then I reasoned
Akron’s prodigal son’s return
means more to a city
who does not know who I am
than I mean to a city
who does not know who I am

and until my name
is plastered on blue
signs welcoming weary travelers
The Birthplace of the Poet
then why can’t I
is the relationship
of an alignment
of some celestial sneeze
into a birthplace of stars

or the bloodline
between who you were
where you grew up
and who you still can become

 

(originally published in RAW Journal of Arts, Spring 2018)

Amy, 2014

I remember pink tongues of vodka became the Pacific
and we’d drown the breeze, water at our feet,
and keep lapping the glass bottle, lips on plastic cup,
swig after hazel-eyed swig, watching hang-gliders
soar inevitably to land, like us, at some black-and-
sand conclusion meaning one of us was wrong, one
of us always mouthing the wrong words into wind,
wisps of brown hair meandering to the air, ocean
blues fading peripherally into drink to swallow
the burning, your dimples creased up, unable
to look in your eyes to lie about love anymore.
This is what I remember of your face.

 

(originally published in Furtive Dalliance, Winter 2018)

West Covina Cormorant

these angled wings of black toxic piranha
triangles and sometimes yellow is diode
connecting spark to sky– open your mouth
raw fish skin and wet I will wait for something
new in the feathers of ripped jeans and we will
sigh about the weather the snow and cold want
of July’s salamander tanktop days and reproduce
downriver toward industrial cities of light
and tall structures of billowing ominous smoke

 

(originally published in The Wayfarer, 2018)

Leaving California

I deliberated when traveling the country
because there was no one anywhere waiting,
no one on either coast with arms open wide to hold
me in their jacket in an ocean breeze– no, grime
rocked from screen to shade. The tide of film
frothed over tours viewing Santa Monica
for the first time as if, as they had hoped,
there was something new to see.

 

(originally published in streetcake, Winter 2018)