I’ve Been on a Bender Since Becoming an Adult

in the dark of grimy
bars floral couches live

feathers (what a thrill beneath
neon green) in view of Saint

Maria’s grand brick parish
I unclasp Catholicism’s hands

from my neck (backdrop always holy
human touch) how can one believe

in anything other than getting fucked
up loving people at parties

unconditionally my friends I have
forgotten too many nights not

to complete the circle offered
under guidance of compass

and an unsteady hand
flicking the lighter

(originally published in Incessant Pipe, Winter 2021)

North on the 101 Toward Portland

One moment I am breaking– nearly
out of gas at Junctions Pass. Another
mile before construction stops me:

it’ll be a few, a truck has to load up.
The first pause on this day of near-
death began in San Francisco

on my sister’s couch– I shared a Lyft
to my car in Potrero Hill with
Amy– the same name as the girl

I left the day before, but I kept
going. Almost ran someone over.
Strayed near a swerving taxi off

the crosswalk. Lost attention when
a light turned green, ignored horns.
This crystal absent-mindedness–

too many things happening I
never had a chance to process
what I was driving from.

But how weeds grow on the
bark of redwoods. How some
hills are angled such that their trees

live sideways, and then you wonder
how they bear their own weight.
You just wonder.

(originally published in The Local Train Magazine, Summer 2020)

Hive

I rented an apartment of bees
that first year in Los Angeles
sticky buzzing day and night
stingers past the turn of knob

sunny day the bees hovering
over body encircling you
paranoid optimistic dreamer
don’t leave the hive yes stay

get stung camera rolling and
action as in stasis as in days
wrapped around you burning
August blankets dripping lust

for fame everyone plays the
game gathering in droves to
hot stove hands on surface
level interaction as in in-

action

 

(originally published in Chronogram, Fall 2019)

Pabst Blue Ribbon With Cat on Lap and November Rain

Have you felt the season’s new bite?
Body shivering unable to process it
yet. I don’t want to leave the house,
the purr from fur an engine revving
nowhere. I won a blue ribbon once,
too, my mom won’t stop bragging
about. College: outstanding student
filmmaker, documentarian
recording red-eyed the mist
of dawn relishing any chill. Went
to L.A. for industry but witnessed
the bloom of everyone else, jealous
sensitivity of light in this lens. I hid
inside poetry. Every day was recycled
aluminum that sought any warm body
to hold then drink away. I am
comfortable here. Still, I doze in
shadowed corners of a home,
unresponsive when you call my name.

(originally published in The Furious Gazelle, Fall 2020)

The Current

There is a universe where I am
a barista or videographer or marketer

or astronomer. I could have said no–
I skipped an interview– when you asked

if I would come to Palm Springs. When
you said you know what this means if you

go, I could have pivoted and returned
to painting my rented room in sadness.

This matters. This doesn’t. This cyclical
current. Of course we’d split, even after

you said– eating biscuits at the bakery–
the universe gives what you put in.

Yes, perhaps. But I am alive, formless,
confused as the river flowing opposite,

a flight response to a hurricane I would
never fight. I stayed in Seth’s basement

for a week after. Who walked upstream
out from it was never relevant, anyway.

(originally published in CERASUS, Summer 2021)

Elsewhere

in darkness we wade
into this shimmering orb
a crystallized common

ground beneath the palm trees
in this desert spanning the time
since I saw you last I lived in my car

when you went on vacation
and handed me the key to your home
for the week wood panels covering

your windows blocking light
I remember thinking I’ve lost
my sense of place like

sleeping through a daydream
staring at the ceiling
from your pond-sized bed

I could not wait
to leave the key
in the top drawer

of your dresser and
never see you again
because I didn’t

want to tell you
your home was more
like a prison at least when living

in a car there’s the
illusion of motion
with nowhere else to go

I find myself with you
now in this outdoor pool
swimming on its own

 

(originally published in Ariel Chart, Summer 2019)

Ramen in Japantown

I had been eating like shit living
in my car, fingernails full of fungus.
We agreed to meet in Japantown
to enjoy a fancy ramen
but this would be my first
in many years
that wasn’t Maruchan
(cheap crinkly plastic,
cancer-flavored beef-dust
in a sawtooth packet)
& you must be aware the body
struggles to digest it.
During our meal,
two years since
we last talked,
the cheap ramen must have
intermingled in my stomach
with the pork-broth
real deal. I put an egg
on top for authenticity
when you told me you had
just bought Coachella tickets
for yourself & your brother
& I didn’t want to know the
price because I was living
on wages made on the days
I was lucky enough to
find work. Umami
lingered on my tongue
as we ruminated
in silence over
how vast the distance
our lives traveled
in different directions.

 

(originally published in Triggerfish Critical Review, Winter 2020)

Chiaroscuro

Alone we stand

at Mt. Washington’s overlook,
the incline trembling. How

many nights did we seek
the city lights from Mulholland

Drive?
I reply,

Stanley Kubrick once
filmed with only candles.

You obscure the view,
flick Bergman on your phone

and ask, do you see the reaper?

His head an egg floating
atop a sea of darkness.

 

(originally published in Vamp Cat Magazine, Summer 2019)