Still Quarantined

Head is hard wood, paint and brush
stroke, linens in the lighthouse, light
without threat of darkness or vice versa,
a grayscale version of a tremolo, where
everything acrylic includes your apathy.
Painting nothing / city / boat I raise
my hands in the air to weather the storm.

(originally published in Dreich Magazine, Summer 2021)

Pillar of Salt

& here in my convulsions, inside my Catholic upbringing,
the blue blanket of childhood– an introduction to sexuality–
I thought I’d turn into a pillar of salt. That God Himself
would descend, golden baritone, with his judgment fist.
But it was high school and I knew nothing of Hebrew,
despite forced classes studying the Old Testament and New,
both being death knells until the ringing bell of class-
change. Stranded in the hallways of youth the orange sky
unending. And I’d chant to myself in my bedroom, horny
and hungry, for a shared stereo. To speak common language
with underlying thread. An undying. That I could stay lost
in the map of Star’s music and be worthy of sexuality, too.

 

(originally published in Carpe Bloom, Winter 2019)

And Yet the Strings

Again, a rainbow sprouting from your violin–
no, it’s no light. You never wanted to mother.
Music was the way– adagios hanging from
the clouds. But God had something in store–

                                                                come on.

What happened was we were drinking herbal tea
and you told me of new pregnancy within these
silent walls of our favorite coffee shop and I said
I’m sorry, I’m sorry because I didn’t know what

else to. And you said it’s okay, it wasn’t you, just
I had to tell someone. Because you no longer
write symphonies. The instrument collects dust in
your closet– where’s the music? We ask. You

answer: inside, swelling. If there’s one thing
you must hear, she will be a cadenza.

 

(originally published in Chiron Review, Fall 2020)

Trunk

Always having a crush
makes life fun. The pining,

as Vonnegut preached, even
if only for a glass of water.

It was in the parking lot, dark
after shutting the trunk where

we stored your viola. You
hugged me, whispered music.

Your warmth pressed against
mine– epiphany. A concerto

we don’t know the notes to. How
do you shut the trunk to a partner

you’ve stored your notes in for
a decade? I see the complacency.

The spare tire in reach. Our palms
touched each time we switched

our beers. It’s true: one of us will
move soon, and I want to whisper

give me a reason not to.

 

(originally published in bluepepper, Fall 2019)

Schizotrope

Finale was the first program I used to
compose music, in eighth grade, back
when my concern was to score colorful,
simple role-playing games I had created
with RPG Maker 2000. A couple years
later, I used new software, hunched
in the dark of my mom’s living
room, toying with FL Studio’s virtual
equalizers, knobs, and keyboard to craft
Schizotrope, the name of the album
I wrote to process a breakup,
an attempt to conjure you through
some combination of melody
and soundfont. When I listen
now, I hear us both a kind
of cacophonous ghost. Back
then, it was simple to slip on
cheap earbuds and recede into
my childhood bedroom, where we
did what I thought– when growing
up– was growing up. So shifted the
trajectory of my songs. And speaking
again of early sex, I sang off-key into my
coffee-stained Hewlett-Packard’s built-in
microphone, made a MIDI sound
marginally authentic to gift myself, in
the future, reverberations of my coping.

 

(originally published in Artvilla: Poetry Life & Times, Fall 2019)

Beach

same as spit
on a band room floor
poolside

without knowing   we are all
skeletons
holding information too

great to actually understand
trombone blaring
mouths into the sea

flute-marching
to conformity’s beat
suntan lotion and absurdism

smother meaningless philosophies all
over your skin   and block out the rest

 

(originally published in Ghost City Review, Winter 2019)

You Say the Songs I Like Are the Ones I Can’t Sing

I process major key as minor,
slink into couches to cry at any
gushy thing on television. Before
bed I write pages to process the
day in journals only I will read.
You say I’m genuine only when
drinking. Love is ambiguous yet
I try to process how to manage
a relationship while singing
lyrics wrong to songs I need
to learn to know you.

 

(originally published in Fourth & Sycamore, Summer 2018)

Country Music

the bleeding radio repeats the same
dead guitars their necks and bodies

another day strings stretch rained
bullets for old fingers to play half-

mast country white and blue so red
throats the shallow soundless holes

peered into to sing sand to bury
the chorus of another city’s silent

prayers God never intends to act

 

(originally published in #theslideshow, Winter 2018)

Last Night You Took My Keys & I Need Them

snow has piled on my car    it is so irrelevant
this cold undesire to work    each day   secretly    I want
  to draw your face with my pointer finger in the windshield frost with
xoxo but here’s the thing      this particular morning is a long violin
fog ascending through the city     if I can’t
go         here is my excuse     to go to you

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)