Click-Clack

we didn’t do yoga except your feet
on my shoulders & months later

you zip past me with my new lover
on your bicycle      the acacias stink

of memory      you see us arm
in arm on the way to the library

as we used to     too    but when we
kissed was a web spiders clung to

a hunger many legs couldn’t satisfy

 

(originally published in WINK, Winter 2020)

Writer’s Block

You tell me you haven’t
written for a long time.
I know. I know. I know.
Same. We continue on
our personal eternities
into forests to forget we
were a trickling sap
yet draw our bodies
against an oak in a
place where no one
knows. Dark corner of
the dark. I used to feed
on the bark of our getting
to know each other. Fine.
It’s nighttime. A fire
fly ambles through
the air, lands on my hand
and you ask for a jar.

 

(originally published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Fall 2019)

Schizotrope

Finale was the first program I used to
compose music, in eighth grade, back
when my concern was to score colorful,
simple role-playing games I had created
with RPG Maker 2000. A couple years
later, I used new software, hunched
in the dark of my mom’s living
room, toying with FL Studio’s virtual
equalizers, knobs, and keyboard to craft
Schizotrope, the name of the album
I wrote to process a breakup,
an attempt to conjure you through
some combination of melody
and soundfont. When I listen
now, I hear us both a kind
of cacophonous ghost. Back
then, it was simple to slip on
cheap earbuds and recede into
my childhood bedroom, where we
did what I thought– when growing
up– was growing up. So shifted the
trajectory of my songs. And speaking
again of early sex, I sang off-key into my
coffee-stained Hewlett-Packard’s built-in
microphone, made a MIDI sound
marginally authentic to gift myself, in
the future, reverberations of my coping.

 

(originally published in Artvilla: Poetry Life & Times, Fall 2019)

A.M.

First thought every morning was you: we were to graduate,
set young wings to flame, then fly– but we moved back to our
childhood homes where, instead, wildfires raged through long
landlines, burning our ears in hours of silence miles apart. We tried
to make us work, but the jobs we hated we did not know how to leave.
Me, at the studio, taking photos of lovers; you, at the call center,
straining voice to strangers. How we slept through the same sunrise
in separate beds, rarely awake for the burst of morning. We tried to make
us work. We drank pots of coffee miles apart to stay awake through
the night to watch the darkness die through our windows, wary
of light, the life we had to leave behind.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Fall 2019)

In Pittsburgh, the First Time,

you told me Friendship is a road
split by two roads, parallel to Liberty,
and I told you that was a poem,
but you said, no, I’m just giving you
direction, and I looked up from your eyes
to the green sign reading Friendship Ave
and knew what you meant. Friendship–
we had yet to spend our first night
in the city, one that would end in
a dark cocktail bar for a dance party
that never materialized. In the morning,
we rode rented bicycles with bent
spokes and a click in their spinning
and I could only follow your lead
and cycle through streets still unfamiliar
to me– we weaved through lonely roads
to the Strip District, then stopped
at the Sixth Street Bridge to admire
the glimmer of the river that warm
winter day and continued until
we found the hill to Randyland
too steep to ride so, off our bikes,
we walked side-by-side up the path
until reaching our destination;
we locked our broken bikes
and kept walking.

 

(originally published in Bindweed Magazine, Winter 2019)

Multnomah Falls Spits Mist onto My Glasses

Six months after, it was April,
and I still lived in my Ford
after moving out of your house.

I drove to Oregon, found a waterfall
to pose in front of, my familiar wool
and cerulean jacket, a white t-shirt,
my scruffy beard.

In the photograph
the stranger takes,
I smile.

The sun glints off my face.
I wonder what you’re up to
and who takes photographs
of you– is it a stranger?

Am I a stranger now?

 

(originally published in Pif Magazine – Summer 2018)

Amy, 2014

I remember pink tongues of vodka became the Pacific
and we’d drown the breeze, water at our feet,
and keep lapping the glass bottle, lips on plastic cup,
swig after hazel-eyed swig, watching hang-gliders
soar inevitably to land, like us, at some black-and-
sand conclusion meaning one of us was wrong, one
of us always mouthing the wrong words into wind,
wisps of brown hair meandering to the air, ocean
blues fading peripherally into drink to swallow
the burning, your dimples creased up, unable
to look in your eyes to lie about love anymore.
This is what I remember of your face.

 

(originally published in Furtive Dalliance, Winter 2018)

Kimmy Granger

The green blanket over your head–
Kimmy Granger gets fucked
by a fake photographer
on your iPhone in my hand.
Meanwhile, you ride me, moaning–
it’s snowing– December’s waning
autumn days– awaiting a kind of fate
under flicked-off lights
in the gray of afternoon.
Before this, we reminisced about
the early days– laying in bed my hand
in your hair listening to music.
Then late July laying in grass saying
the ways we make each other happy.
Which is why I must rewind this clip
over and over to the part where Kimmy
is smiling and laughing before
the whole thing starts and
I pine for the blanket, your
green thread and lint.

 

(originally published in Ghost City Review, Winter 2018)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)

Our Neighborhood Giant Eagle Is Closing

Everything is on sale. Where once was bread
now empty shelves and strangers scanning aisles

for the last shred of good. As it closes you say
you are a little sad, but it was never your favorite

grocery store. We have been fighting a lot lately–
from our favorite tv shows, to what type of dog

we might get, to which sugary cereals to pile
into our cart with all these cheap products

that don’t fit together: taco shells, toothpaste,
store-brand mac and cheese– would you believe

a month ago this place was stocked with everything
we need? We try to talk about marriage,

our deepwater eyes zooming through the dark
into a future where we guess what will become

of this building while seeking sustenance we know
other shoppers already bought the last of.

We need a sign to give us clearance to move on–
then the cashier, ringing each item slowly

as if savoring each would save his job, repeats
thirty percent off, thirty percent off, thirty percent off,

and a little more every day.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, 2018)