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)

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)

I Had a Problem

I drove to Athens drinking Thursday
night a six-pack the darkness
of Wayne National Park guiding
me finally into another car I bumped
parking parallel then walked streets into
bars wandering until Pita Pit no one else
was watching youth pass by hummus
lettuce tomatoes olives a mess
at the table no one knew anything about

 

(originally published in Uppagus, Autumn 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)

We Try on Masks at Dollar General

Which is to say we kissed many strangers
today, so many mouths without knowing.

Both of us date someone else now, though
lock eyes through pinholes of cheap latex,

despite the guises’ vacant stares– these two,
skeletons. Admire the wrinkles of bendable

skull-skin. Remember our bones– last summer,
our bodies thin crackers. Could snap first sink

of snow but we survived last winter, the fall
of our alcoholism, nearly a year passed,

still fighting. I miss the bricked patios
of our Old North bars, sloshing ice cubes

around until disappearing into fog.
Only now, with new identities,

do we walk through the door.

 

(originally published in Midway Journal, Spring 2018; Nominated for Best of the Net)

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)