Condensation

We used to be the same, used to
dance in living rooms in Grandview
houses, drunk on homemade Moscow
Mules in copper mugs, and then
you said you would no longer.
With a glass of emptied ice
water, you’d drip out the fronts
of bars without a noise.

(originally published in Live Nude Poems, Spring 2019)

Solace

It was not solace we sought in the woods,
but rather, logs to provide fire for years.
Having known too many temporary timbers that
smoke then ash in small stretches of time slung
across the small rooms one week to the next,
among the dying leaves we wanted no others.
To watch what turned red on the fringe of the
world’s balance on a sling so fragile we chose
to forget. How long have we known each other?
How long will we? Days whisk into years
without stopping. We know nothing will be
forever; just as every good memory builds
the foundation of happiness worn like vodka
on jeans. If there were a blemish it was houseflies
swept off the cabin’s hardwood. Wings on bodies
in the margins, inert. How soon for us, too.
How winds change in a week but the fire
we started on arrival lingered smoke after
the last departing tires moved pebbles from
the driveway into life’s wild, winding road.

 

(originally published in Dime Show Review, Winter 2019)

M&M

I was searching, too,
having lost the will to film
when I left Los Angeles. So
when you and Kim hid bags of
Haddad’s M&Ms from the other,
I learned it’s okay and rare
to find such sweetness inside
the seams of a rolling chair.
And when I watched you
climb desks and tables
to seek an advantage
inside the pillar, the cords,
the tethered lights– which
resulted in a broken device–
it was never malicious,
wasn’t some power play
I’d become accustomed to
in this industry, just a game
that ended when Janice
emptied bulk bags of the candy
over our desks because
even I was in too deep and,
yeah, it was hilarious. Now,
as we clean our desks to leave,
we find stray M&Ms buried
under paper stacks that serve
to remind, if for a moment,
that you are my friend.

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, Winter 2019)

For Erica

here’s your evergreen nowhere        blue sky eyewhites your
lust for your best life         I mean here is the reason sister

to run into you at North Market      its coffee shop
years after hopscotch       your palm       tree blood

underneath it sister the last time we stayed up past
4 AM      watching nature documentaries     searching

for birds     it was a metaphor at the time     flying
out each other’s eyes      how we’d be wordless

we’re wordless

 

(originally published in Reservoir, Summer 2018)

Lunch with an Old Friend

wish I still knew how to talk about games
movies television sports

blue fish waddling onto soil of questions trudges
leaves bodyprints wet move

closer to some common thread we may yet find
yet know a fishing line in the reel of your hand

mouth brain our friendship was incorrigible
as the moon in a poem in a lit mag

super nintendo and the cement unfinished
scent of basements carpeted staircases doritos

always going down down down
affection every thump downward

like the rest of life tumbling
through deserts of thought mist sandstorm

the sun wrangles some truth out of stranded
windows translucent sunlight

shifting across the wooden table
of distance time summers

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

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)

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)

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)

The Uncertainty Principle

Quantum physics have never been
more real than in this steaming
silver pot of Annie’s shells
and cheddar butter and milk
I’m cooking and the cat in our house
attacks crumpled-up balls
of paper yet sprints in fear
when a toilet is flushed. We are
all in orbit. You and me and
Earth and spoon in pot
mixing components into
tornado and I don’t know
where the melting butter
ends up nor the cheese
or where I’ll be in ten
years or a thousand
because our atoms
can diverge into
two paths any given
moment

          THE FIRST PATH

the one where you and I and most our friends and family are still alive
because ten years is a long time    someone both of us love has died
it’s my father I see dandelions on the dead a suit and tie something
he never would have worn & your mother her silky dress and
Avon perfume wafting through the wake      the frost her
permanent winter bed

          THE SECOND PATH

the one where you and I and all our friends and family are still alive
because ten years is a long time     someone both of us love will die
I see a bowl of ashes I see dead dandelions wilting on the stove
the steam carries souls up into my nose where I recall the heat
and depth of the Grand Canyon   sun pressing against my
neck Dad in his thick glasses & sweat     arms around me &
I pick up a stone & throw it over the edge

 

(originally published in The Courtship of Winds, 2019)