Tuesday Night Karaoke at Hounddog’s Pizza

Another weeknight. Of course
we’re being responsible. Hell,
we chose the karaoke spot
with the Christians congregating
at a table before the mic. The
first from the group sings
Reliant K; the next sings
Hozier’s Take Me to Church
and they all nod and clap
their hands. I want to
tell them it’s a goddamn
metaphor. The whole thing.
I mean, life. Not simply the
lyrics (although worship
in the bedroom seems
obvious– from Adam’s
rib came Eve, hard, both
of them, I mean they bit
into the apple, crunched
to the core, came hard
in the likeness of God’s
merciless love. But what
these friends mean is
a crucifix hanging
above the bed, in front
of the mirror, so that
they can watch themselves
pray in the presence
of Jesus). I mean I want to
tell them but I don’t say
anything, and they leave
as I hit the stage to sing
Psycho Killer, leave before
I can tell them you start
a conversation / you
can’t even finish it.
You’re talking a lot but
you’re not saying
anything. Run, run,
run, run, run, run
away.

 

(originally published in MORIA, Spring 2019)

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)

Bloody Mary

The legend, according to my sister, goes
you lock yourself in the bathroom, turn off
the lights, say Bloody Mary, spin three times,

then voila! She appears, bloodied,
hands on her face screaming
à la Edvard Munch painting.

I obviously don’t believe in this but
do you have the courage to try?

Catholic school vacuumed religion right
out of me, but I blanket my head in bed
when I can’t explain a house’s creaking.

Believe me– if I believed
that I believed, this wouldn’t be
so scary. I’d ask God to help me.

Say I try this now.

Would a vision make me a believer?
Me, an adult in a bathroom,
chanting a name into the dark.

When my eyes finally opened,
I’d pray to anything– the bathtub,
the toilet, the sink, the sliver of

light beneath the door.

 

(originally published in We Are a Website, Spring 2018)

Every Movement of the Sun

I seek a way to meet heaven without living it
in my excess the money and green, the love and sex

the sexes intertwined like vines and twigs
and doesn’t faith have nice legs? the priest

would ask from afar in this tall wooden structure with
our congregation crooning a Godsong that couldn’t

bring them any closer to God but wasn’t what
we wanted the whole time each other?

in that way I’m still religious

 

(originally published in KAIROS, Spring 2018)

 

Atmosphere

What you do say is prayer don’t burn and die
when passing through the atmosphere.

Yet, somehow, meteoroids do–
though sand-sized, they have bodies

like bullets, sometimes
copper, sometimes steel.

We’re talkin’ heaven’s ammo,
a hundred tons pounding Earth each day

unnoticed. Down here, you claim
able to speak with some cosmic, faraway force

you’ve never met while keeping closed your mouth.
You claim telepathy, so this telepathic ability

how your thoughts move healing this world
of the aftermath of bodies. Tell me:

how does God respond?
And you say God,

God protects the faithful.

So, God’s His own meteorites
cratering His house, hallelujah.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, Winter 2018)

Cheez-It®

for now cheap breakable wheat is my bible okay

I’ve been in this basement for three days

etc. etc.

orange skies in the psalms of your dimples
(my throat is parched…)

it’s simple          open your palms

for your mouth

you could fit needles in these holes
                                                       constellations in these holes

should’ve put those tiny strings of stars
in my cart to bide my time

instead of sacks of snacks
to fill                                           & fill myself

until I rip open my last plastic head

dust volcanoes       until my eyes bleed Sunshine red

my fingertips          light & salted tiger sticks

my preacher says Jesus won’t eat Cheez-Its

I believe crumbs
lodged in teeth will return in three days

 

(originally published in Unlikely Stories Mark VI, Fall 2017)

DAPL

buffalo roam
the sacred land

pipes and protestors
clank and clash

signs

God in front of the lens
smiling gold teeth

cup of reservoir water
in hand (with straw)

I did this
he boasts

god
isn’t it beautiful

the way people rally
sinking ships

a river knows
only the land

it flows through

 

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2018)

The Sacrament of Confession in Catholic School

In kindergarten, I sketched a vagina as a circle
lost in strands of hair, similar to a scribbled sun.

The inklings of want would soon
set sail. When I showed the drawing

to my mother, she somehow knew what it was.
Her suspicious eye taught me life is the pursuit

of the scribbled sun. The first time I drove a car alone,
zooming up the hill toward the highway, I took pictures

of the sunset without watching the road, as if heaven
could be captured with my own fingers. At sixteen

I stole Snickers bars at my first job. The dollar store
went under. It could have been worse. I told the priest

maybe God thinks I touch myself improperly.
He said to toss the dirty magazines, meaning

I didn’t change a thing. In marching band, I pressed
my mouth against the trombone’s silver mouthpiece

and kissed when I blew, spit coursing through the instrument’s body
until it dripped onto the checkered floor. I didn’t lose my virginity

too early. By then it was too late. I have seen the L.A. River
rub itself dry beneath the metal bridges, withered and silent,

while the ocean wets perpetual sand, and all I could do
was run my fingers through the tide’s receding hair.

In seventh grade the school librarian declared if anyone
in class could finish A Tale of Two Cities, it was me.

I did not finish. I was twelve and mastering arousal,
turning pages with fingers on thighs inside of skirts,

skulking my hand up to God, to the first time
I knew sanctity– and the feeling, unlike faith,

was enough to make me believe.

 

(originally published in Corium Magazine, Spring 2016)