Olive Garden

On the way home from my first Passover
with your family we stop at an Olive Garden

in flyover country, where the waitress tells us
Happy Easter and, when you tell her we forgot

but still want angel hair, she jokes her last
table mistook pesto for alfredo. Sometimes

people confuse one god for another but never
their own, and food is ours– Jesus rising

with the dough of endless breadsticks
descending like ten plates of plagues, first-born

bastards in baskets we need no hunt to find
lest our mouths become black holes absorbing

absurd sanctities of tradition. Separately,
the Garden was where our families would gather

on intermittent nights to write our own Haggadahs
or speak sins of rock stars or mysteries

of faith. Afikomans for truth, perhaps, but instead
of matzo an endless bowl of a salad of words

in which we always beg for more
forgiveness without really wanting that.

And the waitress, before engaging the simplest rotor,
asks us to say when to end airstrikes of parmesan

and it does not matter when we do.

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Summer 2018)

Dead Bugs in the Light Fixture

from bed we stared upward
at dead bugs in the light fixture

dark spots scattered so motionless
at the foot of what blinds and allures

you said I’m not going to remove them
I mentioned the blinds were parted this entire time

you said a homeless man lives across the street
but the cold and snow would prevent anyone from watching

the light was dimmed
neither of us intended escape

I learned a stinkbug can withstand temperatures
of negative twenty I had tossed one into snow

and it froze meaning its heart turned cold
in an instant and I expect it to

the shell lifeless and its own
dark spot in the snow

the walls were already painted olive
you said you could live with that

we guessed the time and now past midnight
you hadn’t done your reading for the morning

so I returned to the salted road
cruising past dark snow

and trees no cars
no other lights

for miles just ice
just cold just frosts

and frozen bugs
expecting spring

to bring some kind of meaning

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit)