I only know you in the dark
of music colors the big gray
tavern alive with chatter as
much as us as much as alcohol
which could let us roam
out to a new trail a morning
hike where we would talk a
quiet place and let jays
be the playlist for once
(originally published in Kettle Blue Review, Fall 2018)
in the sunlight
of our driveway
I go inside
to tell Dad
a thing like
than a nuisance
but I keep
about that beetle
of a kind
of Goodale Park
and I thought
if I just dig
(originally published in Pouch, Fall 2018)
I am a sitting landfill beef
lettuce special sauce
a sepulchur in my Ford
& in this warm January
the trees are still dead
one eye open I imagine
forests stretching tired
legs & staying silent when it’s time
to speak spring
(originally published in KAIROS, 2017)
I manifest prayer
into the unspoken covenant of suburbia,
the gravel pockmarked by drought,
by time, trickling time. . .
the desert calls its rare waters oasis– so,
purge the monstrous depths of your chosen gorge,
knives outwardly aimed
at some balloon’s held breath–
(originally published in Pouch, Spring 2016)
in the orchard, a mother drinks rosé, bites
into a granny smith. the other apples
are rotten now, well– autumn
peels history off barks. the trees become
malnourished skeletons, tiny skulls. forget.
over and over. bees gather nectar
and you almost forget to laugh. they pluck
the fruit. too young to remember, too
momentous. one time he played too close
to the hive– well, life isn’t honey, she said,
even if you are mine. finding a diamond
in a diamond mine. hey, that’s still special.
who’s to say if it’s worth anything. all her
jewelry. diamond in her open palm. show
me. oh, how it glistened– no one asks
anymore. she does not want anyone to.
(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2016)
wear sunscreen you’ll thank me faster
do not come to me bearing ailments
it was just yesterday gifts of topaz and corundum your ring-fingers will dance will light over penny slot screens aplomb
some shared jackpot of drunkenness
sparks from fireflies in the Georgia summer floating flickering stars lightly humming
when a hum turns into a birdcall we whistle like sparrows on a branch
twigs in our talons we offer to the other
twinkle of the moon through the swaying branches above
voices like an owl-song who
are we to hover over the other’s hopes who
will pinch us find we are composed of feathers too raggedy to summon the strength
fingers meekly bristle against your cheek soft as the whirring of the window fan we drift to sleep
so California is the drought I cannot feel it devoid of breathing like a sandstorm
California someday drifts into the Pacific I am my own island thirsting for wet soil
your cotton-morning taste will itself someday drift
(originally published by The Virginia Normal)
The cicadas come at night, after you
fall soundly in the trance of your booklight,
buzzing pages. Forget, there’s no undo.
The cicadas come at night,
arriving several years apart despite
love’s hindwings clung to bark whose heart is true.
We burrow in those pages craving sight
and air and words– we gather in droves to
kiss your hand though you think it is a bite.
We wait years and always return to you.
The cicadas come at night.
(originally published in The Road Not Taken, Summer 2016)
I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.
In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.
He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.
In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.
Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen
to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.
Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando
through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–
honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies
heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.
(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)
*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology
Whenever I let the dog out
onto our small back patio
on sunny afternoons
and he lays on familiar brick
scratching his ears,
nose curious and wandering,
I remember my father
who, in the endless days of retirement,
learned the lawn better
than his calloused palms:
every humpbacked tree and drooping limb,
every snake and gopher hole,
every new and fallen anthill,
every cobweb on the lamppost,
where to find toads after rain,
how to catch them–
when he did not strive to create utopia
by chiseling trees into magazine models,
I often found him on a patch
of freshly-mown grass,
scratching his smoky, sun-basked beard,
waiting for the wind to speak,
to say more to him than I ever did.
(originally published in Black Elephant Lit, Spring 2016)
We know it is us
who wish to quit the moon.
We close our eyes our jaggedness
could drive the sun away but never
in the way our metaphors could.
Still we write the moonlight
into the sand and growl
at the tide
when the tide returns.
We cry from the shape
our lives took to intersect–
filled with sugar,
or a snail. Or a million
hourglasses, a million snails,
a million glimmering shells
in a measured slowness.
You were talking about the sunrise–
but I never wanted to look.
(originally published in Thin Air, Spring 2016)