January 28

I really want to drink today.

The sun is shining. It’s warmer than usual.

I should try to ween myself off, right? None of this cold
turkey shit.

I haven’t drank a drink this year, the miracle
of it. Today, I am alone.

I scrubbed white the kitchen tiles, but there are
always dirt stains, smudges when you look
a little harder.

Sanitized the kitchen table with towels,
swept its crumbs from the floor.

The cat sprints from one end of the room
to the other over
and over, imaginary laps.

What every day is, these days,
running a relay race, handing
the baton to tomorrow’s me
with the trust I won’t– today,

it’s a sleep’s worth heavier than yesterday.

Long minutes the placemarks I pass

I can’t make time go faster. It is my day
off work, and in its nothingness I trudge
through sludge. Old habit,

you don’t die hard because
you’re not dying. You’re
as alive as me: refreshed yet craving,

gazing through the window to the light-
stained street, the shadows cast from trees
out toward the river.

 

(originally published in Stickman Review, Spring 2018)

Sunday Funday

For the last hot day of April, we were the bristled paintbrush
stroke of an old fluttering-in-wind canvas
flag of a few years ago when all of us were inseparable,
every event a small celebration. We’re a little older,
a little more tired when each sip of boxed wine
means waking with a sharper razor in the sun.

 

 

(originally published in Central American Literary Review, Spring 2018)

Kylie’s at the Ohio State Game

& she celebrates among the drunken dead at the Horseshoe

how ball-missiles fly through air and land cradled in young idols’ arms

I remember this,
                                            fear of missing out– no: just missing
                                                                                                               fumbling
                         no want to pull winter hat over my ears

                                            I drink spiked cider reminding me the summer river

                         no breathing fire into my palms into
                                                                                        the frigid heart of Columbus. No,
I am waiting for the pedestrians to pass my house. Mostly decked in red, some
in opposing green, almost like Christmas, but without–

family knows the apples I douse in vodka.

             family knows my unwell.
family knows my eye toward the wind I find too cold
                                                                                                 & blow against

been awhile since Kylie & I were breathing the same air
                                                             & I’ve got a kind of sixth sense for it

                                                                               (I see dead people)

                       but not in a ghost way more like everyone I pass has ghosted
                                                                              (the phantom passes in public)

& it’s true we both head home for the Christian holidays.
                                                                                                        Xmas, xgiving.

                                  Cars passing the same routes
                                                                 to different destinations.

                                                                      Desolate highway.

                                          Kylie’s down the street & I’m drowning here
                                                                         making a scene

                                                                         her silhouette at the surface joyous
                                                                                                                     but occupied

 

(originally published in Qwerty, Spring 2018)

Sunshine Daydrinking

I need to break the association
this first day over forty in January
sun wicking everything orange
and melting snow     which had mountained
around Columbus     this past year’s been
climbing     an unending goal since I gave up
drinking       through a Lent that lasts forever

I stopped believing in God early on
and instead chose to believe in sacrifice
first my health     now my vice    the nights
when I lose myself in another religion
in rapid ascent up blackout mountain
waiting for the harness to snap

 

(originally published in Edison Literary Review, 2018)

I Forgot I Was Drinking

beer half past noon listening reading
to sam sax’s on alcohol poem

after the final line in one hand
a bottle to my lips my body a future
compromised

i promised mom i’d outlive her
& it’s going well so far

but these low-hanging clouds
are moving fast and there are drips
of sky becoming foggier

sara says we shouldn’t have drank last night
a monday
but the beers at woodlands are bargain $2 drafts

o genie whisk me to an open field
with flask construct a crumbling house
at the center where i lay drooling the day’s
indiscretions

my mouth a volcano
concrete spat into my palms

the heaviness of me
drops

 

(originally published in Flypaper Magazine, Winter 2018)

In This Cafe You Thought You’d Find Solace from This World

through speakers 70s music bass
guitar heartbeat pulsating through
a weatherman chants forecasts out
of sync a microwave beeps the shrill
coffee machines trembling cash
register slamming baritone voice
barista says he has bad hearing you
said something before sandwich fan
spins no rhythm stringed spurt richochet
solos quiet everyone reading books
tablets not responding to chaos burnt
bagel wafting sorry sorry the window
rain begins drum drum drum drum
one two three four the faucet spits
on everyone walks in don’t you
want somebody to love?

 

(originally published in IthacaLit, Spring 2018)

Getting Sober

If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

 

(originally published in Rattle, Winter 2018 – nominated for Best of the Net)

Public Urination

I manifest prayer
into the unspoken covenant of suburbia,

the gravel pockmarked by drought,
by time, trickling time. . .

the desert calls its rare waters oasis– so,
purge the monstrous depths of your chosen gorge,

knives outwardly aimed
at some balloon’s held breath–

 

(originally published in Pouch, Spring 2016)

Excessive Drinking

I am a sun-drenched willow field withered and
purple. Headache remiss, wonder when the liver
will churn its nightly clarion call, squeezing rags
to drag the water out.

Sometimes the nights are like that in the silence
between friends. The drafts replace talking.
You can’t hear the words with breath so still
and distant, willows soon awakening.

 

(originally published in Transcendence Magazine, Summer 2016)