Death, 2009 (College)

Flowers & God–
you tell me, slipshod,
there’s an afterlife
in the party we’re cheersing
to tonight our whole life
with small glasses of Granddad’s,
noisemakers, & drinking
games. I’d like to drown
the tissues
in something, listen to Gaelic
music like Dad used to
driving us from school with Pizza Hut
wafting from the trunk those
sunny afternoons. & now that you’ve
lost someone you’re willing to lose
your Bill Hicks-views-sense-
of-self-meaning like we all
funnel ethereal spirit into sky
& swig the rain with
drunken angels I know
you know you’re better than that.
I know you know once
the last attendee’s passed out
on the couch heavy breathing
lips purple you’d check
on him, too. You’d be alone
in the house you grew up in
with phone in your hand
calm and through the static of 911
racing to get the address out
the foaming of your mouth
and when a cop comes you
beg please don’t break this party up
and deny the red flashing lights
come

 

(originally published in 8 Poems, Summer 2018)

Losing Another One

Christmas trees
buried
no gifts
nothing left
to unwrap
no one
needs these kinds
of gifts
no one sees
above the trees
look
there is so
much more
to be angry about
think of those
who have lost
the soup
steams the kitchen
sunken chicken
in chunks
salt boils
the tea kettles
green
the minced leaves
mint
leaves
the body
leaves
the mint plant

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018; nominated for Best of the Net)

Heart Surgery

Gates clot with distance: other thickened loves not directly related
to active devices are increasingly important for post-fabricated
hearts to facilitate not only process control, circuits, electric life,
but also accuracy of simulations critically dependent on parasites–
your fundamental process parameter.

A thinner gate enables smaller, faster transistors to critically affect
hearts: techniques were developed to provide accurate values.
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy: you materialize as light
witches on. Auger electron spectroscopy: hold the sun in its light.
Secondary ion mass spectrometry. Transmission electron microscopy.

And the meaning lost in poetry.
And you I lose in visible light.

(originally published in The Icarus Anthology, Summer 2017)

The Sunflower Field in Yellow Springs

was full and yellow in summer
but we arrived in autumn
when the sunflowers were withered
and drooping brown
to the ground
stem necks snapped perhaps slowly
and knowing nothing of summer
we lost our sense of fall
and we joked maybe someone
came to kill them all
but the local bookseller said
it’s just too late to grow
so we wandered past closed
shop after closed shop
thinking about the lovely things
we heard this town would offer
but knowing the dead sidewalks
with each lonely step
it was only talk

 

(originally published in The Write Place at the Write Time, Fall 2017)

Look Up in Summer

give me cloud weaved tan
& brown & pill yes
to gulp down my throat
& make will the ill of my body

give pasture & clay &
another day to call mom
she walks dusty trails alone
in May in wind in sigh
& goodbye

give ghosts to call clouds
& memories of dad proud
of young farming days
me sitting in the plow

along the way the sky changed
& cast fishing nets to catch
the dead alive in my head

 

(originally published in The Blackstone Review, Summer 2017)

Ouija Board

we’re summoning the dead by candlelight out of a Hasbro board
and there are so many ghosts in my head haunting every home

I find myself in so much history in every intimate space of belonging
but the cat doesn’t have to meow after we ask a spirit to reveal itself to make

us scared there’s a bat hanging on your door and we fall asleep holding hands
I never know what to make of you, how to call something beautiful

and I don’t think to ask the Ouija board that instead asking stupid questions like
will we ever grow tall enough to dunk a basketball and will we pass history class

instead of saying things like reveal yourself and show me who you really are
but maybe we were never really searching for spirits to begin with maybe

we just want any warm body to haunt our beds you don’t even have to say anything
to let me know we give thanks to all the ghosts that haunt us

 

(originally published in Here Comes Everyone, Spring 2017)

Ghosts

Heard the word son alone in the kitchen
of my childhood home.

His gravelly drawl was unmistakable.
I waited for him to say more, but

memories of my father are strangers
to each other. And every stranger

becomes a ghost passing
through another stranger’s life.

A wind tapped at the window,
wanted to say something, too.

When he was alive,
I did not listen

until I wanted
and I did not want

until he was silent
in a disposable suit.

I gave it a shot: pressed my ears
against the shingles, cold.

The wind
mimicked ghosts.

 

(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Fall 2016)