An Improv Game

an improv game in the living
room I am screaming
someone say I am an alarm

clock or an ambulance
because my brain is hyper-
ventilating in this anxiety

of why-can’t-we-play-beer-
pong on the lawn table this is
Los Angeles and I am scared

of everything (tsunamis
falling fronds off palm trees
car accidents and commitment)

I was trying to make something
anything up in front of you
that’s how we stayed together

for eleven months of I-love-
you yelling sand in our teeth
sunburnt toes on the shore

 

(originally published in The Fictional Cafe, Spring 2019)

Boneless Wings

Following a trip to Vegas
in August heat, my skin itched
for good. I ended us. No,
you said. We were a done deal.

You would not leave.
We drank juice and vodka
to forget we had ever
talked about forever.

We rode a Lyft to BW3
at 2 P.M. on a Thursday
because a cheap happy hour
is a kind of grim reminder.

We ordered boneless wings at the bar.
The bartender told us ignition is cheap.
Beer stripped us to tender meat
and there was no more steam.

You stepped into the breeze
when you went outside to smoke.
We locked ourselves out–
the clouds produced rain, not keys.

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

2014

Of course I remember how to be alone,
how to drag a lawn chair out to smoke
a shore and offer loneliness a bottle.

But there you would meet me
on a staircase of sand and we’d
gaze at the stars, meld into soft

landscape, cheek nuzzled in
a palm, starfish digging into
the sandwarm face of earth.

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Summer 2018)

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.

 

(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2018)

Inland

Bluebird floating
blue across the redlands–
when did I become

isolated? You said
I had a home
to sleep, I just had

to ask but
I would never– except
I did the night we shot

arrows across your
driveway, my quivering
aim missed the tree

and nearly pierced
a squirrel’s eye–

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)

Instagram

Denver’s volcanic sunset
from the parking lot
was a longing

nature
versus
Instagram

and while my traveling
resulted in a love
I cannot
recommend enough

I know it was you
who told me
it was time to leave
the ocean
when

memories
are too nostalgic
to be healthy

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, 2018)

Multnomah Falls Spits Mist onto My Glasses

Six months after, it was April,
and I still lived in my Ford
after moving out of your house.

I drove to Oregon, found a waterfall
to pose in front of, my familiar wool
and cerulean jacket, a white t-shirt,
my scruffy beard.

In the photograph
the stranger takes,
I smile.

The sun glints off my face.
I wonder what you’re up to
and who takes photographs
of you– is it a stranger?

Am I a stranger now?

 

(originally published in Pif Magazine – Summer 2018)

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)