The Drone of Faceless People

Rolling Acres mall
outside the record store
white hats enter
to leave shadows

every small step
a rattle of longing
blueprints for after
-college dreams

rosewood a tinge
in glass displays
reflecting fluorescence
so bright you sneeze

rockets then angle
toward the stars
didn’t the Etch-
A-Sketch always lure

you canvas and sky
hunched over red
tablet twisting
striated knobs

handmade lines
stretched star to
star everything
tethered

together
a fishing
wire
baited

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

A Syzygy of Chickens

My horoscope this morning:

You will swallow your pride
to give in to someone else
today, Taurus.

Take a brisk walk
and concentrate on reasons
for obedience.

The stars led me here.

I intended to quit
my job this morning

and found three chickens
in celestial alignment
wandering out
my door.

How wonderful
it would be to walk
and walk out
of town

to wherever the path
ends. Over the ledge
into the greenery
to live off the land

where I would
lay in the grass
and stare into

the night sky
and say
you can’t tell
me what to do.

Light years away
from my current
life. To break

the alignment
of monotonous days
squawking
order

when I want
to be jazz.

A roost of stars
conspiring
light to lead

me back but I’ve
thought and
thought

to find
no good reason.

 

(originally published in Good Works Review, Winter 2020)

 

Office Job (August 18, 2017)

the cat purrs, content
on his own, clawing my blanket
that rests peacefully and soft.

meanwhile, I entertain fantasies
about quitting my job again–
every day, the drab walls

say nothing to me.
the squeaky chair says
too much. another paycheck

arrives, not enough to sustain
me past the day’s bills. I work
for the grim reaper, ghastly

and gray, worm-smile rotting.
there is a scythe to my head
when I sleep that I set the night

before but I can’t even sleep
long enough to meet it.
the cockroaches share my bed,

and I know they will make it
out of this alive, whether
nuclear war or work.

 

(originally published in EgoPHobia, Winter 2018)

Unemployment Dirge

I have given up on adulthood this time
at least not trying to pay bills
every electronically white-licked envelope
arrives the kiss of a faceless reaper
but I’m not playing that capitalist game
of unending rain filling plastic
cups the days that spill
on plain tile to move
the needles of hairs
and dirt I never
knew was missing

 

(originally published in Foliate Oak, Spring 2018)

The Hours

Can’t even sustain myself with the hours
I work to make myself; a waterfall of dollars
and dreams splashing off wet stone. I hold no

heart hostage but my own; the heart holds me
hostage through beating, my breathing
a slow decay. In aging I prove nothing

to the universe except that I exist;
through the office, I prove I do not.
Despite the hours, the blood and bone

monuments I erect, then forget–
the steady draining of days worth
not enough to get me by.

 

(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2018)

Background Actors

At the foot of the staircase to the stars–
in the back of the line of actors drunken
from delusion (I’m going to make it),
each of us with hands full of hangers,
heads full of the fame
that glimpses a star, a familiar face,
how we chosen ones flicker
on living room screens
of friends and families–
a blip, a blur so brief
we were almost never there at all.

 

(originally published in The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, Winter 2017)