House of Miracles

I don’t remember the phrase, spray-painted
on a house in Wilkinsburg, that caught you
on the way to work some May or June day–
it couldn’t have been Miracles do happen
too cliché. It was some unexpected inverse.
I remember you mentioned you liked to think
there was a man named Miracle in there
(this must be a clue) – the details elude
me. Reflecting, it seems miraculous to have
survived this haze of spring turned summer,
fall– memory’s the rain hovering over our fake
Centennial Park. I kept throwing sacks of dust
into the spot on the cornhole board that would
end the game, but as the game kept going,
the show kept steering to the opposite end of reality.

                                                 In my mind, this house–
                                                 wooden panels splinting, gray paint chipping–
                                                 was surrounded by overgrown grass
                                                 becoming harder and harder to see past.
                                                 You cut the grass, the grass grows faster!

This show was like that. Have you seen
the viral video of the tree just struck
by lightning? The inside’s raging red,
an orange flame self-contained, but
I like to think that tree was in Miracle’s
lawn, and he was zen in tending
to the heat and ever-growing grass.
But all the forces were conspiring–
twice the office toilet wouldn’t stop
running beyond reasonable control.
The first time was the first week, when
it flooded the floor and drowned
the executive offices. You sent me
to Busy Beaver to buy a monkey
wrench, but no matter how we turned,
the water seeped past carpet.

                                                 The second time was at the end. We had
                                                 all lived hell, survived it. The water was
                                                 relentless, but this time, when you went
                                                 in, there was a crowd outside the bathroom
                                                 door asking if it was over– the flood, the
                                                 show. This time, it was different. You fixed it.

 

(originally published in Home Planet News Online, Fall 2020)

Capstone

among the blue desks was a meager
audition for adulthood crumpled

into a mess of wooden shadows reciting
barbell lines on the film school second

floor (stair steps closer to Orion) how
I was dreaming young of the world’s

grand magnanimousness suffused
with balloons that smelled of palm frond

everglades my school-sanctioned camera
would record the nightglow trees by lights

of Coe Lake where it snowed pine cones
in the backyard of my mother’s house

where acres stretch forever rugs of green grass
and hunger the endless hunger for somewhere

anywhere else

(originally published in KGB Bar Lit Mag, Spring 2021)

Driving in Loops to Enterprise

We cruised Penn Avenue as compliant
vagabonds to the parking garage train

station to deposit/withdraw rental cars
in other people’s names. For a long time

I believed if you drove the actor’s maroon
luxury vehicle, you’d become the moon

yourself, at long last a god you believed in.
Being one who has to drive it to where it

must go, I know by now you will guide
its hand back to beneath the famous blue

bridge in the strip. You will sit at your desk
in the grainy film of your dreams and sketch

the rumblings of this world until golden hour.
The sun, then, will gift upon you ultraviolets.

 

(originally published in Confluence, Spring 2020)

The Producer at the End of Pre-Production

gorge on whoppers we’re making a movie

this bag of salmon we’re making a movie

sleeping pills we’re making a movie

thirteen hours plus we’re making a movie

I won’t eat pizza we’re making a movie

Caesar salad in the storm we’re making a movie

no one goes home we’re making a movie

watery leftovers we’re making a movie

dropkicked phones we’re making a movie

at the paper cutter we’re making a movie

beets at crafty we’re making a movie

there’s nothing to eat we’re making a movie

thousands of packages we’re making a movie

we’re making the movie Monday what will you be doing

are you going to miss us we’re making the movie

(originally published in Mad Swirl, Summer 2020)

Hive

I rented an apartment of bees
that first year in Los Angeles
sticky buzzing day and night
stingers past the turn of knob

sunny day the bees hovering
over body encircling you
paranoid optimistic dreamer
don’t leave the hive yes stay

get stung camera rolling and
action as in stasis as in days
wrapped around you burning
August blankets dripping lust

for fame everyone plays the
game gathering in droves to
hot stove hands on surface
level interaction as in in-

action

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Fall 2019)

The Movies

I want to go to the movies I want to see people
act like people I don’t know enough about

anything to know if I know about anything
except let mise en scene keep my mouth

watering I am happy to drop yellowy
popcorn in my lake to swim the butter

and I want to laugh like a lake and ripple
in the conflict of others because if this

is the life I am meant to live one
of darkness surrounded by strangers

I want us to at least see the same thing

(originally published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Fall 2021)

Chiaroscuro

Alone we stand

at Mt. Washington’s overlook,
the incline trembling. How

many nights did we seek
the city lights from Mulholland

Drive?
I reply,

Stanley Kubrick once
filmed with only candles.

You obscure the view,
flick Bergman on your phone

and ask, do you see the reaper?

His head an egg floating
atop a sea of darkness.

 

(originally published in Vamp Cat Magazine, Summer 2019)

Alone in a Movie Theater

I am in competition with darkness
staring into the eyes of people playing people

says the man who lost himself in Los Angeles
on purpose to walk to the beach and along

its shore at night with grayblue jacket lightly
shielding me from breeze inside other footprints

shapeshifting to waves rocking against a porch
of a vacation home that pile of gold inside

a beached skull I carried into an orchard with
knife and sliced gala apples into motorboats how

Dad used to and it is not littering when I biodegrade
myself into Earth sinking deeper into its core

where I sleep for two hours and
wake up a new and filthy man

 

(originally published in Rabid Oak, Summer 2019)