When LeBron Returned to Cleveland, I Lived in Los Angeles Wanting to Come Home

All these quiet prayers
from two thousand miles away
to impact the spin of the ball–
hope that could travel
far enough to land
in the temporary nestle of a net.

 

(originally published in Triggerfish Critical Review, Winter 2020)

Nadir

The problem wasn’t that I stopped at a Steak ‘N’ Shake for dinner on the way to your party, but that near Cleveland I couldn’t help but crack open the Great Lakes IPAs I had bought at a 7-Eleven near the Steak ‘N’ Shake and the headlights became shooting stars on 71 but I hadn’t considered meteoric impact and the crater I would have left, a vast hole – I hope– in my loved ones’ lives and I now know I have to sometimes be depressing to climb out of a rut (today included, this long ladder up), to remember vehicular impact affects more than me but that this world runs on an oil field of sad things happening and I am trying my best to prevent the potential to die every day and I have eluded it, as you have, and I love you, I love you, and must remember you might love me, too.

(originally published in Magnolia Review, Winter 2021)

Cedars-Sinai

Vital signs at zero, a squiggly line gone infinity–
guess what I’ve prepared for. An eternity of this
nothingness. I tossed the phone like a grappling

hook at your distance and it caught. You left it
hanging on the bricks, though, and moved to
California, where I used to sleep the streets in

my Ford Fiesta, the same car we drove to Melt:
a time bomb heart attack. How close we were
back then, each deep-fried grilled cheese bite

hushed the thrumming. Fingers greasy– wiped
on napkins, wiped and wiped and wiped.

 

 

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

Fog Machine

I am good at drinking the fog
machine shooting stars past
sugar-rings of Saturn.
Entering small atmosphere
of haze and collision. A burn
to swallow smiling.
Everything became
out of body. Some bubbles
pop soon after floating
from the wand but I rode this
for years. The axis of my own
journey seems fleeting. And
the circular magnet of time pulls
me now like desire to step into
a cosmic pool and ride the
ripples I make to its end.

 

(originally published in Free Library of the Internet Void, Winter 2019)

Blur

for Mary Oliver

We walked along
the gray edges of
the river. And my
glasses had shattered.
This removed
the shape of things,
the perfect barren limbs
now perfect trees,
what I thought were boats
in the distance you told me
were wild geese going home–
and where else to go
but deeper? I wanted
to see what might be
around the bend, always
something– exactly the
grass we could not know
we needed, pines
that waved us
further into forest.

 

(originally published in Pacifica, Spring 2019)

 

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)

Southbound in February

  Almost swerved to Akron
      to delay our southbound silence
          before another car skidded into steel.
                 We smoked exhaust
            with sedans which scrunched
                    around us. Wiper squeals
            revealed hymnal landscapes
                through murky glass.
              I revel in footprints buried by snow
                                             yet do not know what–
                               if our black tires composed
                                     cadenzas in the slickening slush,
                           ambulance’s red, beating
                                    bongos thumping toward us
                                            –what we could have said
                                                   that would have ever been enough.

 

(originally published in The Slag Review, Winter 2017)

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)

Dean’s Birthday

Sometimes a Saturday is candle wax
the length from Cleveland to Columbus, a highway
of years burning blue in early spring, a handful

of flowers you hand an old friend who seems
a little aged now: a new house, a long mortgage,
a luxury car and me, unemployed,

eating pizza and fries.
He drinks red wine (party
hard weekend) –

these blood-drinks of youth.
I buy him nothing
he gives me space in return.

 

(originally published in The Heartland Review, Fall 2018)