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)

Resurrection

in dark crowds I look for your shadow
along the perimeter of park grass wet

my beer churns from belly-up to forget
seeing you again but for now loud thumps

and guitar squeals glow from every beacon
the way one holds to hope just long enough

to make it religious communion in every
plastic cup bought from jazz-blue tokens

I wait for resurrection every turn of head
with you wandering some sidewalk

I walked earlier how you materialize just
the body returning to remind me I cannot

wait any longer to be rid of wanting to walk
in circles until I cannot know any better

if you were ever even real at all

 

(originally published in Chantwood Magazine, Spring 2017)

Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)

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)

Christmas Eve, 2014

the living room drones and mumbles.
the bone dove sings a petrified song

above the tree, nearly silent enough
to believe a resurrection could occur

in the coming days. pass the stocking
with the kidney stone. bring

the anesthetic. we will drink–
this is the blood bond, the calm,

the thin slicing of ham: bloodless
& calm, torn red wrapping paper

strewn about the room

 

(originally published in Whale Road Review, December 2015)