Sleep Paralysis

At thirteen I awoke to a man-sized bat
waving black-eyed wings at the edge of my bed.

Back then, I believed there were unexplainable things
in the universe. Dad would talk about guardian

angels when he meant luck explains
a kinship with the divine. He still

drove his motorcycle beyond
the age of seventy. He fell asleep

one time in the green countryside
and awoke to blurry shoelaces

of the trucker who slammed into him,
amazed my dad still alive

and the proof in scraped knee
and a busted motorcycle somehow still

operational then driven home. Dad attributed
this, like most things, to angels. I could have believed

for much longer. As a kid, I watched E.T. ride
a bicycle in the window in our lawn every day,

his brown eyes never noticing me. Always
when I pointed this presence to my sister,

he was past the point of seeing.
Soon I stopped believing.

 

(originally published in The Tau, Summer 2018)

 

Stuck in an Elevator

Between floors I meet calm–

meditation when firefighters
arrive. Frank O’Hara might
be proud though there were

no red lights streaming in how
one can wedge one’s own ideology
in a wavering tower halfway to

clouds but the building shakes on
bad foundation though a soul is
structurally sound in one way

how it rises a few floors
a crease in the rope to stop
movement how could an elevator

even stop why wouldn’t it if I were one
I would rise only being this lonely
and quit too in the in-between of

sustaining love or faith forever
but interstitials demand warmth
around mind with winter jacket

how such claustrophobic space within
you can force yourself to blow
air into your fist then float away

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)

 

Church

Before you had a name, you were a stranger
searching for one.

Gravel, asphalt, salt, and stone–
I pieced you together, a church from scratch,
your holiness in my uttered breaths
of limestone, mortar, love…

your tall steeple stabbed the sky.
I could hear clouds dissipate,
crows caw and congregate
in our mutual worship of you.

Maybe you never needed a name.

When you vanished, my heart
reconstructed itself with God’s rubble,
compounded from type-two plastic,
Coca-Cola cans, rubber bands…

I never learned your name. With my mouth,
my body aflame, your steeple burned.

Bricks and timber screened
the sky. The smoke and fade–

the gray, the fog– that
was your name.

 

(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)

Ruins

I.

Bullets ricochet
in every entered home
and they are similar
to ballet, a delicate

do not fall wherever
you cannot stand back up
but pirouette anyway– every room
spins the opposite of you.

II.

Hair on the surface of bleeding
bricks. The house of
violent storms. Mortars
with every step.

III.

Heaven, the insurance premium,
costs far too much.

IV.

We are legless because
we cannot stand. Wingless
because no one believed
we would fly again.

V.

During construction,
no one built us for the long-term.
There are nails in every crook
of skin– every place you look.

 

(originally published in The Black Napkin, Summer 2016)

American Prayer

Why did an apple tree
grow in my backyard?
That’s where the swimming
pool was supposed to go.

I ask not for much.

A well-placed tornado, maybe.
Another plague, perchance,
to rot its every root.

Then a demon, perhaps.
Lucifer the Lumberjack,
chainsaw in hand,
could tempt the tree
with Eve, eat its fruits,
then chop it down, though
trees don’t love women
like I do.

Look, I know it’s not practical.
Jesus didn’t wear a crown of thorns
from an apple tree
but I bear a malus cross
and don’t want to give money
to a heathen
who cuts down
a tree for me.
I could do that by myself,
if I really wanted to. I really
want to buy that pool.

I’m tired of the silence.
I know it’s easier for you
to use your superpowers
to turn the tree into a Bible
that smells like a chomped-in
red delicious. If you do that
I will sue you.

 

(originally published in Cake & Grapes – Vol. I, Issue II)