Switches

Dad knew which fuse box switch did what–
in this way, he chose for us the light and dark.
His hands blackened from cracking walnuts
over the years, hammering husks in the

night when the rest of us were sleeping,
loud whacks startling us temporarily awake then
drifting back into our own darknesses beneath familiar
stars. After his death, we found Dad’s walnuts

in barrels in the corner of his workshop alongside
spiders and memories we could not yet scrape.
My brother said, to honor him, we had to break
and eat each one, despite the bulk. That Dad lived

a rich life poor, that the taste might activate
memory’s accordion, careening us in and out
the past and present, turning life to death then life
again, discordant in its forlorn loudness.

 

(originally published in 3Elements Review, Spring 2018)

Illusions

look in the mirror
that’s the ghost of you
a fraction of a second ago

I look into my lover’s eyes
and she seems alive though
I know we’re wilting

together when we hold
hands the action is
a time traveler

our atoms providing
the illusion of touch
but what of the heart

does the beating keep
us breathing or the
faith that we might be

my head rests
on your chest
soft thumping

echoes of eternity
I am both part of
and removed

 

(originally published in Hamline Lit Link, 2018)

On the Walk to the Polling Place

Some birds zigzag
below shrapnel clouds
and others, perched
on limbs, chatter
about migration
in this chill
because the leaves
in your yard
are a different shade
than your neighbor’s,
but each tree
casts its own
ballot into earth
and waits
for the season
to change.
Scrunching
all the dead
beneath your boots
along the way
to the church
with the cookies
and machines,
you pass big,
brick houses
with American flags
and jack-o-lanterns’
sunken smiles
on porch steps
and city workers
who have been
fixing power lines,
building structures,
patching roads
for so many months,
and so many months
to go.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Fall 2017)

Mortality as First Date

The chairs we sit in are steel
horses, sad and dead. What you said
at the gallery in the warehouse was
to you, I have only given death and cookies.
Or corpses confused with candy.
Your cheeks puff, withdraw.
You’re silver in ceramic.
If I were a romantic I’d say
you belong in the painting.
Longing, always. But I am
a romantic. When we strolled
the botanical gardens we found longing
in the plants deemed poisonous.
How close I get to each sweet thing.
How close each is to death.

(originally published in Pif Magazine, Winter 2018)

Ant Gel

Fill the cracks so the ants can’t infest.
This is the poison applied for feeding:

urine-yellow icky glue sealing lips
to take home to another body. Sometimes

words stick where I open my mouth–
the crevice between us not letting you in.

I, too, have brought small gifts back
underground thinking them an olive

branch. Each attempt kills one way
or another. Malignant misinterpretations.

I return with this pellet of words.
This killing I never meant to witness.

 

(originally published in Abstract Magazine, Fall 2017)

 

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)

Duplex

the muffled songs
made me wonder
who played violin
on the other side

who cradled the bowstring
whose long haunting moans
whispered my name
in its dried throat
beyond the wooden wall
who itself whispered
its own ghosts
its dead fingerprints

are clamoring
to live again

 

(originally published in The Bond Street Review, Summer 2017)