Shakey Graves

I never want to
not be friends.
Cold bonfire
nights & joints
sore from dancing
to Shakey Graves
(Your friends / were
so true / when you /
were 22. / Now
you’ve got nothing
in common)
in a cabin
forgetting the world,
beer by beer.

 

(originally published in Black Dog Review, Fall 2018)

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)

In This Cafe You Thought You’d Find Solace from This World

through speakers 70s music bass
guitar heartbeat pulsating through
a weatherman chants forecasts out
of sync a microwave beeps the shrill
coffee machines trembling cash
register slamming baritone voice
barista says he has bad hearing you
said something before sandwich fan
spins no rhythm stringed spurt richochet
solos quiet everyone reading books
tablets not responding to chaos burnt
bagel wafting sorry sorry the window
rain begins drum drum drum drum
one two three four the faucet spits
on everyone walks in don’t you
want somebody to love?

 

(originally published in IthacaLit, Spring 2018)

Meditation on Muscle Memory

If I had musical talent
I wouldn’t write poems.

Guitar-grown fingernails.
Nimble strings.

There’s no need
to lie. I couldn’t bring myself to try

when my parents thought
it’d be a good idea for me
to take piano lessons.

I had Game Boy eyes
and the Final Fantasy theme on repeat.

My dad had already explained
the difference between basin wrench

and torque. Wasted an afternoon
taping leaking pipes.

Like many of his time
he knew plumbing, mechanics,
home improvement

then brought me into rooms with broken
machines. My mind was Mickey Mouse
spelling words and song,

not the kind to vivisect
a bird to learn the function.

All I knew were not even stories yet
and still my hands
sing few callouses.

 

(originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Spring 2018)

Old Songs

on the phone you ask
who old lyrics were written for
I say my writing is not literal
these are imaginary girls

you ask who are these imaginary girls
I say they are lonely
in imaginary ways they alone imagine
the ways they are lonely

I lay under a dim fluorescent bulb
a soft cotton sheet on my skin
digging a deeper crater in my bed
as in a bodiless void

 

(originally published in Bitterzoet Magazine, 2017)