I Try to Keep Your Ice Cream Cake Cold

It is eighty-two degrees in Pittsburgh and my trunk
is crammed so your DQ cake sits in the passenger seat,

moves the same speed I do in my car in this orbit
in this galaxy. There is so much matter to keep cool

in the universe, but there’s sunshine through my wind-
shield and you– I know– thaw as a passenger beside

me. I’m doing what I can: aiming all the frigid vents
that way, holding a folder to shade you. I drive fifty-

five in a thirty-five to avoid my mind entertaining a
milky flood mixed with dust, dog hair, cookie crumbs,

and lust pooling where you are, your name in icing
illegible– it’s fine, for now. Don’t freak out. I am

floating over a bridge, the sun forever taunting,
and soon I know you’ll go, in one way or another,

into the mouth of a thankful person– whether me,
trying to save you from this heat, or you, radiant

as the sun, seeing celestial bodies who– for at
least this rotation– you know revolve around you.

 

(originally published in Dodging the Rain, Spring 2020)

Silica

i carry infection in saliva
like a point of pride

see, my city reeks of bone

tall skeleton skyscrapers
i’m numb again

as dental drill enters me
year after year

what birthed my decays?

raised to desire new
wants every day

wanting even wanting

my dad worked at a ford factory
after the great depression

churned out a new kid
every few years

seasons of rust
spreading on steel

here’s the sunset
he’d wake us to say &

spend the days molding
the yard
rough hands on saw

that was satisfactory
to him

for me oaks are cold towers &
grass not godmade

took a clump in my mouth
from the graveyard as a child &

i swear i tasted
death
but could not digest it

i’m but a skeleton

all life’s experiences
slip through me

masticating childhood
no pondering
the future with mom and dad

scooping fries at ponderosa &

we’d always go for seconds &

mint ice cream after

 

(originally published in Burningword Literary Journal, Fall 2018)