The legend, according to my sister, goes
you lock yourself in the bathroom, turn off
the lights, say Bloody Mary, spin three times,
then voila! She appears, bloodied,
hands on her face screaming
à la Edvard Munch painting.
I obviously don’t believe in this but
do you have the courage to try?
Catholic school vacuumed religion right
out of me, but I blanket my head in bed
when I can’t explain a house’s creaking.
Believe me– if I believed
that I believed, this wouldn’t be
so scary. I’d ask God to help me.
Say I try this now.
Would a vision make me a believer?
Me, an adult in a bathroom,
chanting a name into the dark.
When my eyes finally opened,
I’d pray to anything– the bathtub,
the toilet, the sink, the sliver of
light beneath the door.
(originally published in We Are a Website, Spring 2018)
my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
after we got jobs.
(originally published in The Drunken Llama, Fall 2017)
If I had musical talent
I wouldn’t write poems.
There’s no need
to lie. I couldn’t bring myself to try
when my parents thought
it’d be a good idea for me
to take piano lessons.
I had Game Boy eyes
and the Final Fantasy theme on repeat.
My dad had already explained
the difference between basin wrench
and torque. Wasted an afternoon
taping leaking pipes.
Like many of his time
he knew plumbing, mechanics,
then brought me into rooms with broken
machines. My mind was Mickey Mouse
spelling words and song,
not the kind to vivisect
a bird to learn the function.
All I knew were not even stories yet
and still my hands
sing few callouses.
(originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Spring 2018)
The bowl is where
the howls come from–
A broken-record werewolf
in this microwave-boiled,
I have been trying to form
the words to say to you
with only a vowel.
When you left
for some knockoff white-hat,
greasy Chef Boyardee
I went to the zoo
to study manatees,
but they, too, are a migratory
species. I saw the first of its kind
take on a mangrove but emerge
fish-in-mouth. She floated to her
friend or brother or lover
and squealed syllables
until the other swam away.
I guess no one communicates
with each other the proper way
anymore. All these sounds
these OOOs and Os
(originally published in The Oddville Press, Spring 2018)
it took reshaping the lawn
into something a family could admire
to hack through the underbrush
of silent years–
sawdust in grass
a dull branch brown
(originally published in The Borfski Press, Spring 2017)
we’re on a playground of mosquitos
finding poems about space and math
to read because his brother’s in town
and he’s an idealistic futurist
so they trade science poems
and smoke and dreams (a glass
of water the tides of Lake Erie)
I ask which Little Caesar’s location
is your favorite all time (five dollar
orange brown cardboard. gas
station lighters burning thumbs)
everyone answers the one in my hometown
and we’re 1997 sitting in a mildew basement
sketching cartoons in blue binders on greasy
carpets full of the future waiting for the future
and mallards in the pond sing all wing and trouble
hoping for something to disturb the water
so they can fly
(originally published in Pouch)
boys who would be future men
squealed at new Pokemon.
mimicked moves, karate'd birds
flapping and winging and flinging
OVER NINE THOUSAND!
miles per hour
eight-dollar K-B Toys
blue mega man
onto metal bunk
sprints'a from kitchen, lotsa surge,
hi-ye-ho bullet train
digging through purple bin
homemade pogs; on one side
the cut-out cartoons
from game manuals, Zero so cool
his long blonde hair, red armor
give me his sword no
rise to heroes controlled
control was so easy
yes, yes, think of life–
death in digital terms
those boys were the masters then
the future men and their
cold basement summers
(originally published in Suburban Diaspora)