A.M.

First thought every morning was you: we were to graduate,
set young wings to flame, then fly– but we moved back to our
childhood homes where, instead, wildfires raged through long
landlines, burning our ears in hours of silence miles apart. We tried
to make us work, but the jobs we hated we did not know how to leave.
Me, at the studio, taking photos of lovers; you, at the call center,
straining voice to strangers. How we slept through the same sunrise
in separate beds, rarely awake for the burst of morning. We tried to make
us work. We drank pots of coffee miles apart to stay awake through
the night to watch the darkness die through our windows, wary
of light, the life we had to leave behind.

 

(originally published in VAYAVYA, Fall 2019)

Third Anniversary (During COVID-19)

                        After Mikko Harvey


I don’t
want you
to be
scared. Maybe
thinking of
a cat
would help.
Have you
seen
the video of
the one
waddling into
the ocean
to be with
her friend?
She swims
onto his
head
and they stay
afloat.
When they’re done,
she beelines
through sand
to the towel
he set up
on the
beach,
and he pours
sun-warmed
water to
heat her up
before he rubs
her down.
Sometimes we
have to remember
the world before.
We don’t know
what’s going
to happen.
Kingsford and DQ
are especially
tender
at a time
like this.
What
are we
supposed
to do?
Not pet
them?
Right now,
DQ is snoring
on the blue
blanket of
the futon
without
a worry.
Our first
three years
have been
that soft.
I hope
this passes
soon.
Until then
we will squeeze
each other–
holding
our cats
close, all of
us afloat.

(originally published in Pendemic, Spring 2020)

Square Cafe

pancakes we talk heavy locomotive engine
steam billows out this whale blowhole this
top of mind wisp say something anything
wrong always sugar sweet the stacks
I want to speak doesn’t connect you eat
a hole through final pancake as to
puncture the flour we had bloomed
over the last year and half eternity
we could lose in the vast distance
across the table cerulean walls
surround us in new distance
enclosed and suffocated open
air a quiet din to gorge last
bites by window sunlight
your blue marble eyes I
can’t meet halfway
mumbling

 

(originally published in 24hr Neon Mag, Winter 2019)

In Pittsburgh, the First Time,

you told me Friendship is a road
split by two roads, parallel to Liberty,
and I told you that was a poem,
but you said, no, I’m just giving you
direction, and I looked up from your eyes
to the green sign reading Friendship Ave
and knew what you meant. Friendship–
we had yet to spend our first night
in the city, one that would end in
a dark cocktail bar for a dance party
that never materialized. In the morning,
we rode rented bicycles with bent
spokes and a click in their spinning
and I could only follow your lead
and cycle through streets still unfamiliar
to me– we weaved through lonely roads
to the Strip District, then stopped
at the Sixth Street Bridge to admire
the glimmer of the river that warm
winter day and continued until
we found the hill to Randyland
too steep to ride so, off our bikes,
we walked side-by-side up the path
until reaching our destination;
we locked our broken bikes
and kept walking.

 

(originally published in Bindweed Magazine, Winter 2019)

The Blinds

kaleidoscope of the world–
you needed
               the only beauty

(nothing
                I can unsee)

everyone is a field

your head on his
                    shoulder

(if it can happen
                         again
                         it will)

 

(originally published in Grasslimb Journal, Fall 2018)

Two Workouts

Sara dances to a Zumba video on her laptop
at the kitchen table I eat chocolate chip cookies

the dog gets too close the moment she kicks air
he walks to a window to study his reflection I inhale

as Sara does the dog stares back exhales my reflection
consuming me but soon my body how my feet are bare

on coffin wood and Sara throws punches while dough
collapses in my fingers before I move grease to mouth

yes yes YES alongside the workout instructor to techno
beats a pitch of butter sugar flour down my gullet

I have accomplished an entire row from the baking pan
Sara says that’s enough but she means her water break

many minutes into sweat an eternity away from ending
she says her stomach hurts and I get it, mine too

(originally published in Indiana Voice Journal, Winter 2018)

Valentine for Sara Rosenblum

Fuck fake corporate holidays–

                                      ok, I said it.
Drained
our hearts fighting capitalism
but the system says February 14
is the best day to say you love
your person, to shower them
in candy and chocolate until
they can taste no more sweet.
                                                This is
our first Valentine and I miss you
terribly in these long hours
we spend at places we’re paid
to spend our lives in to survive
and what else would we spend
on but sweets?
                                       In the past,
I’ve wanted to take a baseball bat to
Valentine Day’s piñata and smash
out all its greed–
                                     this year, though,
you are my Valentine, and every day
I spend with you already I want to bury you
in a mountain of CVS candy and chocolate,
hold you close to me and whisper
I love you, I love you, I love you

                        ok, today’s a good excuse.

(Originally published in Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

After-Work Binary

I know we need to decompress because
there’s a multitude of zeroes airplaning
from our mouths while a jet drones above
and my heart is 01001010010 you tell me
your dad had a heart attack at 30 I hear
murmuring between my valves throat
clenched I want to kiss you but the
world is on fire and I want to turn
you off and on and off and on again

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Winter 2019)

Dogsleep

my eyes been tired recently can’t sleep
though I seen how you wept fatigued
on the bathroom floor wet tile &
we went to your bed the dog followed
& pressed paw against belly then
sighed & snored in a rhythmic breathing
we tried to do the same

 

(originally published in The Virginia Normal, 2018)