Blendoku

We can work on puzzles all day,
watch the patterns move
from one color to the other.

Block colors twist in gradients
until blending into something else.

The sun removes itself
from the scene, shifts
behind a cloud,

creates a change in light,
a block of bricks on a building
slightly darker than the rest.

 

(originally published in SOFT CARTEL, 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)

Let’s Make a Deal

At a McDonald’s in Ohio the TV
plays Let’s Make a Deal & two
old white men are enraptured mouths
open in awe of the studio energy
around Wayne Brady & I
know he’s happy but the audience
is fake I was paid to be
fake in L.A. forty dollars cash is all
it takes for one to clap clap
mid-clap three hours palms
burn & lucky luck even those
who somehow chosen sneak
onto stage know they did
not bring the green glittering
top hat they’re told to wear & now
their hair holds dead rabbits
the producers keep killing
& we’re laughing it’s funny
they tell us & when I was on
the show they asked me to whoop
my gutted-fish stomach out
& of course I yelled the wrong
numbers in the game & brand-
new sedans were revealed
as what I could have had
had I said six instead of
seven & then collected my
forty in line alongside everyone
returning loopy props to
props I know my mom is proud she
shows me & my colorful howling
crowd to happy rooms years
after the date I’m biting into
McNuggets with gold teeth
& cavities

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018)

Arcade Bar

The movement
neither initiated.
The joysticks dance
in orchestral unison,
taking turns missing
the light on the screen.
The proximity advantage
of cooperation.
Our feather jackets brushed
and the crowd howled around us,
moved in herds – an infinite number
of lives in which to press
the red kick button. Not a red
exit. Not to drink water in excess
of the salt, shake it over,
shake your damn hands and clap
once, clap twice, shiver in the
thorn-wine applause– let us
shiver within our bones.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin, Spring 2018)

Used to Play Baseball

I am a nail-punctured tire
the rubber smell
with you, unfinished, our wheels –

constant motion
squealing for still.
Our bodies, bands stretched and heaved

in bundles of clothing
(deserted starling
feathers scattered and–)

navigating roadmaps to our cores,
you can reach the end
and pluck what you want.

I just want you to see me for who I am
when your legs aren’t clamped around me,
the squeeze in the mitt.

 

(originally published in First Literary Review – East, Spring 2018)

Fidget Spinner

Place the ring around your finger.
Let it spin. Pretend, for once,

that something can attain
perpetual motion. You drive back-

country roads to leave a life behind
yet miss the destined exit. Consider

the spin of the Earth, the galaxy,
the universe. At what point does

longing end? There are always
voids to fill, vast pits of fruit

you would savor if you could
stay still enough to love

a person.

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Fall 2017)

A Date with Doubt

You look around the room
and rate singles from one to ten
in terms of melancholy
but don’t know
how to rate yourself–
Pacific waves flow through
you almost drown
in the sea of your thoughts–
the scisms between pen and mirror,
heart and mind, these are thieves
who will lie to you ‘til the Greyhound
leaves for Cincinnati at 11:30.
Until then we watch superheroes do bad
stand-up comedy in the conference room
at the new Mikey’s, eating mushroom pizza
with too-hot sauce. Bass pounds from the stage
so loudly we walk to 16-Bit next door
to drink water and pretend we are drunk,
our mouths rocketships exploring the universe
of each other– the rotation of stars
confused with physics. In the end all you want
is chocolate cake. Your blue eyes curve away
in that soaring flyball-to-left way. The way
you sway me back to simpler times
when buying CDs was a holy act
of personal preference
and I stayed sealed on a shelf in plastic,
waiting to give the world my music.

 

(originally published in Zingara Poetry Picks, Summer 2017)

Ouija Board

we’re summoning the dead by candlelight out of a Hasbro board
and there are so many ghosts in my head haunting every home

I find myself in so much history in every intimate space of belonging
but the cat doesn’t have to meow after we ask a spirit to reveal itself to make

us scared there’s a bat hanging on your door and we fall asleep holding hands
I never know what to make of you, how to call something beautiful

and I don’t think to ask the Ouija board that instead asking stupid questions like
will we ever grow tall enough to dunk a basketball and will we pass history class

instead of saying things like reveal yourself and show me who you really are
but maybe we were never really searching for spirits to begin with maybe

we just want any warm body to haunt our beds you don’t even have to say anything
to let me know we give thanks to all the ghosts that haunt us

 

(originally published in Here Comes Everyone, Spring 2017)

Music Enough to Make One Mad

i walk in a line and shoot and shoot i walk in a line and shoot and shoot i walk in a line and shoot and shoot i walk in a line and shoot and shoot i walk in a line and shoot and shoot i walk in a line and shoot and jump and shoot and jump and walk in a line to music decadent in my brain on a loop a loop and through the gates it follows wherever i go wherever i slide i slide i slide inside and walk in a line and jump and shoot and walk in a line and jump and slide and the music is always the always the major key hooks and bridges no matter my life the music the same and i am so close and i am so close and i walk in a line and jump and

miss

 

(originally published in an alternate form in Dangerous to Go Alone! – a video game poem anthology)