My high school was ninety-nine percent white
classmates without filter said you’re a bit off-kilter
what are you I mean what are you I mean
all I am is me my whole life everything I know
half-Filipino half-West Virginian so you mean
like half-Asian half-hick I mean like basically
I don’t have the ear for Appalachia and must
be good at math and I said neither they said
solve this solve this these equations flicked
into my ear shoved into my eyes but my
coping mech was laughter
is there another term for that?
(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)
The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.
(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)
compartmentalized space the whole world
one way windshield window window
window window mirror mirror mirror
rush of speed then tangled road
slow for nothing nothing slows for you
(originally published in Stonecoast Review, Fall 2017)
Pepper burned my mouth
and all I could think of
in that salivated flame
was you telling me your tongue
no longer felt the heat
of a moment: meaningless
sex– bite and garment
here between the green
walls of your zen room
your small goldfish
swimming in circles–
submerged flame and hunger
for love so intense
I flicker poems to you
thumbs on lighters
waiting for the matchbook
to catch– combed pomade
hair, designer jeans, and wit–
what I want is origami
and fire– instead
we talk about love
but unlike Raymond Carver
we have nothing
more to say.
(originally published in Words Dance, Summer 2017)
the weight of an axe sleeps
between us in bed.
we dream of horses
wanting to whip us
until the stable
lives up to its name.
the pawnbroker’s hunched shadow
further crumples into shadow.
there it is, a black apple–
and your pupils, telling truths into the dark.
(originally published in Pudding Magazine, Winter 2016)
(originally published in Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Winter 2016)
Tongues composed of lager and slathered words drip
turbulence from the roadmaps of mouths, the ocean’s
rock and regurgitation. We meandered along brick-paved
roads with half-amber jugs in our hands, how quickly
we drown but how slowly we swayed on swings
in the frigid, desolate playground at night by the highway,
eyes entranced by the spotlight from the city’s hidden heart
we desire but never find but in the beer’s flat hops like a pair
of clumsy trombonists, asynchronous staccatos and B-flat
scales bottling air from silver mouthpiece to S.O.S–
(originally published in Cacti Fur, Summer 2016)
I tell my girlfriend I love her
before we go to bed every night.
I tell her I love her in Vegas, in front
of slot machines spinning statistics,
neon colors blinding eyes beyond
our blur of vodka. I tell her I love her
before we fight in a tent on the beach
drunken under blankets and after that, too.
I don’t tell my mom I love her
on the phone when she’s alone
in her bedroom, when she cries
many nights because her twenty-
nine year marriage lives only in memories,
photographs, marginalia, in the musk
of dried sweat on forest-green cargos.
He had dragged an oak limb
after soft rain; now, crusted mud–
crevices alive in the treading
of boots– traces new footsteps
on less-traversed floors.
(originally published in Boston Accent Lit, Summer 2016)
You suggested whiskey sours
so we left the reading
to walk the golden streets in rain
during the first warm day
which felt like hope–
a riptide cascading
through the chaos of cars
and people on city streets.
Like you, gravel is full of scars
and we trample it under our soles
What do we pray to but the future,
its corpuscular horseshoe
on her way? We are swift
without wind, carving footsteps
in Bukowski’s tattered ambitions.
And when we finally reach the bar’s
back patio with sour piling into our mouths
you strip to your white dress
and show me your tattoos.
We wanted the whole world or nothing.
The sun, the moon, not one or the other.
The stars’ breaths on the nape
of your neck. Every word tingles
the first time celestial bodies meet.
I am cratered with my drink,
this treat and chilled escape.
The staircase leads downward.
(originally published in WISH Poetry Press)
Life imitates art in the way
memory imitates life– your face
reminds me of my last swollen
laughter held. Sometimes
there is no comparison– oh, we’ll rise
from geysers with sulphur still
in our fabrics– loose, blue threads
hanging at the maw.
We disassociate and wish
to converge into stars on a single strand
I remember that copper smell
of a new roll of pennies,
when fifty cents meant more than
being half of something
not quantifiable at all.
(originally published in Pouch, Issue #6)