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)

Cedars-Sinai

Vital signs at zero, a squiggly line gone infinity–
guess what I’ve prepared for. An eternity of this
nothingness. I tossed the phone like a grappling

hook at your distance and it caught. You left it
hanging on the bricks, though, and moved to
California, where I used to sleep the streets in

my Ford Fiesta, the same car we drove to Melt:
a time bomb heart attack. How close we were
back then, each deep-fried grilled cheese bite

hushed the thrumming. Fingers greasy– wiped
on napkins, wiped and wiped and wiped.

 

 

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

An Improv Game

an improv game in the living
room I am screaming
someone say I am an alarm

clock or an ambulance
because my brain is hyper-
ventilating in this anxiety

of why-can’t-we-play-beer-
pong on the lawn table this is
Los Angeles and I am scared

of everything (tsunamis
falling fronds off palm trees
car accidents and commitment)

I was trying to make something
anything up in front of you
that’s how we stayed together

for eleven months of I-love-
you yelling sand in our teeth
sunburnt toes on the shore

 

(originally published in The Fictional Cafe, Spring 2019)

Talking Stand-Up Comedy in Pittsburgh

It’s Kat’s birthday and the room laughs
at sad Neil Young songs opposite this
vibrant party. I meet Meeti who says
she has good jokes, bad presence.
She has grander aspirations. I tell her
I never planned to be in this city, either.
She needs a New York or LA. I came
from both & couldn’t hang. Birthday
spirit drifts in this room around us,
everyone having an amicable time.
We are, too, except we can only dream
of spotlights, butterflies, our names in
neon because we’d rather smoke quietly
in the dark corners of social gatherings

(originally published in The Big Windows Review, Summer 2021)

Boneless Wings

Following a trip to Vegas
in August heat, my skin itched
for good. I ended us. No,
you said. We were a done deal.

You would not leave.
We drank juice and vodka
to forget we had ever
talked about forever.

We rode a Lyft to BW3
at 2 P.M. on a Thursday
because a cheap happy hour
is a kind of grim reminder.

We ordered boneless wings at the bar.
The bartender told us ignition is cheap.
Beer stripped us to tender meat
and there was no more steam.

You stepped into the breeze
when you went outside to smoke.
We locked ourselves out–
the clouds produced rain, not keys.

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

Balance

bubblegum, bean
or J for jelly bean

and the first letter
of your name

your bent elbow
your bent knee

upside
down

interpretations. the morning
of early language

the balloon is red
your eyes black

the sky red
your eyes white

the sky white
your eyes red

black drape of night

white rainbow
white sun

everything between
the margins of the

mental spiritual
physical colorful

hangs in
the balance

 

(originally published in Vamp Cat Magazine, Winter 2019)