Every night Mom drowns
in loud TV next to dusty organ
bloomed with portraits. Family’s
family, including things:
the security system greets her
when returning from the store.
The red carpet, the torn couch,
the gunky dishwasher. Coming home
from work through a sea of dark Ohio
into a reverberating house of off-white
rooms so silent the garage door screams
shut. The floors don’t creak, they wail
and faucets cry. A cabinet full
of Cabernet. A corkscrew hangs,
rusted at the hinge.
(originally published in Oyster River Pages, Summer 2018)
Her violin’s bow popped off the crowd’s
thin, bald trees–
it’s just too late to grow.
The next morning I called where you grew
and crawled these barefoot floors
of fingerprints and colors
and your name
(originally published in Packingtown Review, Summer 2018)
In Kathleen’s apartment in Oregon,
I ask her where even is home?
maybe never knowing.
I see my mom’s mown lawn
in the green fields our baseball
team travels through, my friends
in tweets spitting scores or stats.
These, I don’t care about,
but I join in discussion.
Blue hands to high-five,
then to put my phone down.
(originally published in Hobart, Winter 2018)
& when you sleep (waking
life is not cheap)
I know our love’s worth
out on our back patio
drinking bad wine on Tuesday
& the dog can’t decide
which side of the glass
he wants to live
on, the wild & murk
or the safe & stone.
I’m living life under
fluorescents or artificial
light, got a wallet made
of air I’m thumbing through,
somehow living & learning
despite the change
or lack of– glass
clinks on bronze floor.
I’m saying I love the sundown
& evening air, my fingers
locked in yours, unloose.
(originally published in Panoplyzine, Winter 2017)
to cut immigration
is to cut me half
-Filipino I am already
halved quartered diced you take
a knife to my mother she keeps
a knife at her neck we both are
American in the blade of the word
I used to pretend to be more
my more-accepted half
to have to choose
is to have nothing
(originally published in Serving House Journal, Fall 2017)
The alley is paved with old bricks
blackened by rain. I used to want
conformity, that tidal hope gripping
your gut. You must have a family soon.
Everywhere babies are sprouting
but garden sprinklers are off because winter
is near, crackled dirt longing for storm–
how long since the rough of gale and rain?
Seasons, in these frigid airs. And my seedling
heart stopped growing soon after its first beat.
(originally published in The Coachella Review, Winter 2017)
(originally published in After the Pause, Fall 2017)
I hiked through the backwoods of Yellowstone
wondering why my life did not change
with every step. That beauty could
become so manufactured. Looking over
another massive canyon– my third in the west
in three days– what’s so good about it?
You could fall into adventure, sure.
You can fall into anything.
Love, of course. Art.
I drove aimlessly for three months,
watched landscapes lose their painted strokes.
The bristled edge of sky inside me turned
and dried, brought me back to deserts I camped in
on the side of the road many freezing nights,
my breath the hot air on windshield,
blocking my sight of stars,
those lost things guiding me
that smog made me forget.
(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Summer 2017)
dishes are an exercise in repetition
why do we go through our days so quickly
we must be unhappy with material possessions
how we sustain ourselves
I am amazed I have sustained myself for so long
teenage years of french fries and ice cream
adult years of french fries and frozen pizza
there is nothing that greases my heart
more than eating macaroni and cheese
naked at 2 am
when I am bloodless
pots and pans hang on hooks on the kitchen ceiling
the landlord says our water bill is exorbitant
I think it is extraordinary
the parts of ourselves
we must pay for
steam billows out of the dishwasher
when it is done
we pay for that too
in august we chopped heads off of asparagus
rinsed our hands of the green bits
blue antibacterial bubbled white
champagne bottles cling to the wall
someone please set them free
so we can keep that bent and dying orchid
on our kitchen island
(originally published in Eunoia Review, Autumn 2016)
Heard the word son alone in the kitchen
of my childhood home.
His gravelly drawl was unmistakable.
I waited for him to say more, but
memories of my father are strangers
to each other. And every stranger
becomes a ghost passing
through another stranger’s life.
A wind tapped at the window,
wanted to say something, too.
When he was alive,
I did not listen
until I wanted
and I did not want
until he was silent
in a disposable suit.
I gave it a shot: pressed my ears
against the shingles, cold.
(originally published in In-flight Literary Magazine, Fall 2016)