Our shared strength wanes–
vaxxed, we talk about the end
like a peek of sunrise through
the blinds. Yes, beyond
winter depression we just had
depression and didn’t know
it. Spring sun’s out and
we are outside drinking.
Kids graze by like
the virus never happened.
But I was there. I was
strong. Even as a kid,
finding my father crumpled
on the floor and convulsing,
eyes rolled to the back of his
head during his stroke,
I calmly dialed 911
and waited until the
ambulance arrived, and
I was fine the whole time.
But when my sister
screeched her SUV’s tires
into our driveway, I let
go. A lifeboat. I ran
into her arms, crying,
not knowing how to say
anything I wanted to say,
and she just held me
and said it’s going
to be okay– but she
didn’t know. This past
year, I’ve held you to tell
you it’s going to be okay,
but how could I know?
Now that the end is in
sight, we wait for the light,
wilting in its arms to meet it.
(originally published in Capsule Stories, Spring 2021)
out of nowhere there’s a razor-thin wire hope
smoke from the top of the mountain and
we small spectators watching those distant trees
burn chatter among ourselves that finally there’s
a chance to reveal the truth about the source of smoke
and to be honest we’re terrified if there isn’t
a fire because we see it and wonder what else
is covered up because it’s there all around us in the air
(originally published in Rabid Oak, Spring 2018)
waiting hoping growing
(originally published in Peeking Cat Poetry, Winter 2018)
I want a mountain
in this Midwest,
to wake and find
a seed of good
in looking up.
I want to drive
into these clouds,
then sew its holes
to hold the rains
(originally published in Right Hand Pointing, Summer 2017)
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
pleading with a red delicious begging god for good
even though I cannot process Jesus I still chew and
spit seed and you walk over the guts of me with your
shoes on sidewalk in the sweltering August of laying
in grass whispering love between dandelions so much
we’re sprouting from dirt in ugly ways all thorn
and bloom overgrown with each other there are
no gloved hands around anymore to pull us out
(originally published in Bluestem, Spring 2017)
when the continents drift apart
at least I know any island would keep you
in its palm
and stay afloat
while tectonic ghosts shift
every cyan wave an old hello
when I last tried to hold your sail
in my fist you turned to water
but I hear the tide sing melodies
that must return
bearing my name in pewter clouds
and silver rushes the word into air
into a sailboat– I see shape
in risen mist
with hope the form lingers
long enough to lead us
to where we need to be
(originally published in SHANTIH, Fall 2016)
You learn your plane
has been delayed
You remind yourself it has nothing to do
with you. The cause must be
something mechanical– a loose cap or
calibration error. The crew
does not have to say it’s not you,
it’s us because by now you know
the sigh of steel wings, how planes take
a while to ascend anyway.
How insignificant– this delay
stretches hours and a kind
voice speaks through white
noise on the loudspeaker like
she wants to say there is something
we can do to make a difference.
The plane will have the sky when
it is ready. Until then,
do not say it is broken.
(originally published in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 2016)
Before you had a name, you were a stranger
searching for one.
Gravel, asphalt, salt, and stone–
I pieced you together, a church from scratch,
your holiness in my uttered breaths
of limestone, mortar, love…
your tall steeple stabbed the sky.
I could hear clouds dissipate,
crows caw and congregate
in our mutual worship of you.
Maybe you never needed a name.
When you vanished, my heart
reconstructed itself with God’s rubble,
compounded from type-two plastic,
Coca-Cola cans, rubber bands…
I never learned your name. With my mouth,
my body aflame, your steeple burned.
Bricks and timber screened
the sky. The smoke and fade–
the gray, the fog– that
was your name.
(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)
in every entered home
and they are similar
to ballet, a delicate
do not fall wherever
you cannot stand back up
but pirouette anyway– every room
spins the opposite of you.
Hair on the surface of bleeding
bricks. The house of
violent storms. Mortars
with every step.
Heaven, the insurance premium,
costs far too much.
We are legless because
we cannot stand. Wingless
because no one believed
we would fly again.
no one built us for the long-term.
There are nails in every crook
of skin– every place you look.
(originally published in The Black Napkin, Summer 2016)