Beach

same as spit
on a band room floor
poolside

without knowing   we are all
skeletons
holding information too

great to actually understand
trombone blaring
mouths into the sea

flute-marching
to conformity’s beat
suntan lotion and absurdism

smother meaningless philosophies all
over your skin   and block out the rest

 

(originally published in Ghost City Review, Winter 2019)

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)

Reviewing Geometry for the GRE: First Lesson

As if you could find exactly
the base of a triangle–
one long, unsure line.

I am looking for an exit
sign pointing, pointing, pointing.
Outside that red door

wilts confused leaves.
You say there’s a way
to quantify this? That

equations explain everything?
It’s 30 degrees today,
90 yesterday.

What’s autumn’s angle?
A 180-degree spin.
Math. I don’t trust it.

How Catholic school
assured me the trinity
would save me.

I’ll learn whatever
to warm myself.

 

(originally published in petrichor, Spring 2018)

Canton Central Catholic

My high school was ninety-nine percent white
classmates without filter said you’re a bit off-kilter
what are you I mean what are you I mean
all I am is me my whole life everything I know
half-Filipino half-West Virginian so you mean
like half-Asian half-hick I mean like basically
I don’t have the ear for Appalachia and must
be good at math and I said neither they said
solve this solve this these equations flicked
into my ear shoved into my eyes but my
coping mech was laughter
is there another term for that?

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)

Band Room

there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not

such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs

but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas

muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night

we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows

the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers

down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes

every piece celestas
on wet reed floor

the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something

 

(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)