To Emily (From Angel)

To run away would prove
the wild still within me,

taming that short fence with my claws
to catapult into the trees where birds

and squirrels and spiders sleep alone.
I look starward when you lure me

out among the sparrows. I am no monster
who lurks in twilight, but sometimes

exist memories I never made, when cool air
rushes into me through the window screen

like the moon commanding the tide–

I am not fully water but, like you, an animal embedded
with her feral past– my sisters teach me to hunt,

mice dangling from their mouths that haunt afternoon naps
on your heavy bed– my beautiful sisters never knowing

how it feels to be a princess, gold and pink
tiaras glistening between their royal ears.

I would not belong in those sprawling
forests from my dreams. The hunger

from the wild’s lack of you
would tremble my true heart home

under starlight’s navigation– to here,
where my whiskers graze your calves,

where I am cradled in your arms
in the company of heartbeat:

a sweetness, a tenderness
the feral could never dream of.

 

(Originally published in VAYAVYA, Spring 2016)

Blue Digger Bee

do blue digger bees buzz like honey bees do
or like jazz from tinny speakers
the city night starves for jazz
just a little touch finger on palm
yes I am over your plaid cheeks
like physically my eyes are exhausted
the out-of-order escalator will move no further
yes we waded in pastel watercolors
soft peal of wetting paint
temperance of modern rain
kestrels singing in forever air
tints of cerulean debasing the feather coat
deftness of a painter’s hands
what loneliness in the canvas will glimmer in a gallery of twenty-first century still life
that is real
the mixture of white and black paint stain so entwined in the fingers gripped by brush
the challenge of how do you make this Vietnamese-man-sitting-alone-at-a-table as compelling
as a bucket of salt dipping from the sky
I think of a plodding pizzicato on a yellow glass harp
children in red shoes lining up for a king-sized carousel
our teeth are the strings on the replacement years from now
somehow the present is pregnant with the future
somehow my mouth is fanged to nearly ask
fingers hold music that has not been heard
arpeggio flower petals drifting in the wind
umbrage in the gutters
fingernails recycle them into leaves
the digger emerges from sand
and creeps back into its widowed sepulcher

(originally published in Prong & Posy, Issue 2)

A Raccoon Knocked Over a Garbage Bin

The daddy longlegs cantilevers from Styrofoam
to sidewalk. Beetles, red-handed, scurry from a brown banana peel,
and as my gloved hands rake the dregs of recent days to neatly seal
in a new black bag, I think of how much we lose
in a week, or in the span of a second, some wayward glance,
a hush in a waning tide … no moon, no sun, no, merely
the space between … wrinkles slink into our faces.
I would give you wings, but you have risen,
already, high into infertile sky. And in the morning,
without sunrise, I will swear
the wings were broken, were never there, or were crushed,
in some tiny state of insignificance.

 

(originally published in Syzygy Poetry Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2)

Pretty Autumn Sunset

Blackbirds suspended in triumvirate.
Clouds in a sea of burnt clay
mold into a blanket, the bed
unmade. Every beautiful sunset,

look:
see the others on their phones
snap photos for strangers,
likers, digital lovers.
Lowball grandeur on a
five-inch screen.

It’s gone in a moment, anyway,
the pixelation of life,
bloated
and trapped
and yours.

Palm trees stand as windmills,
stilled, and they cannot fan
the vertical Culver sign,
risen like held smog.

Headlights on cars move
indistinguishably in time-lapse circles,
one after the other after the other.

 

(originally published in The Literary Commune – Issue #4, April 2015)

Rob Delaney

Hi, I am Rob Delaney.
I am not Rob Delaney

and he would never begin a five-minute set like that,
but before California dangled blackberries
above my granite mouth,

Rob showed us the way and the truth and the life
(John fourteen-six by the score of silent thumbs)

god, twitter fame was the only thing
that could bring us nearer gods we do not believe in

this big bang of a perpetually expanding following
we cannot fully understand

by choice I never listened to robins
conducting high-frequency symphonies

(but I did read Last Call of the Passenger Pigeon
by Daniel A. Hoyt that summer
and could form the parentheses of a whistle
enough to calculate the slow kettle of tea)

my father would sit on a pig stump
(an oak whose life he ended himself)
and watch birds fly the superhighway,
clouds like rush hour in L.A.

like some hippie saint claiming
all that is God
is not man-made

I always thought of bird-watching as a way
for the elderly to augment their loneliness

now all the young men I know
fetishize loneliness in themselves

 

(originally published in LEVELER – Summer 2015)

Clinton, Ohio

Where I lived was a quiet crescendo
of snow six months of the year
& mosquito summers wearing shorts
into the sweating night

Where I lived had piano thunderstorm concertos
jolting the elderly house’s bones
with frenetic fingers, ivory paint,
red bricks

Where I lived was a lonesome walking trail
where morning chirps of blue jays went unnoticed.
Beds of acorns lined the autumn grass,
a kind of fallout for the process of aging
and the act of leaving

Always, now, in thought, it is a shoebox
of dandelions that writhe when I pet the cold cardboard–
hello, you are home, tonsils– my heart
can’t handle the hand-shaped imprints
from so far away

 

(originally published in Rubbertop Review – Volume VII, 2015)

American Prayer

Why did an apple tree
grow in my backyard?
That’s where the swimming
pool was supposed to go.

I ask not for much.

A well-placed tornado, maybe.
Another plague, perchance,
to rot its every root.

Then a demon, perhaps.
Lucifer the Lumberjack,
chainsaw in hand,
could tempt the tree
with Eve, eat its fruits,
then chop it down, though
trees don’t love women
like I do.

Look, I know it’s not practical.
Jesus didn’t wear a crown of thorns
from an apple tree
but I bear a malus cross
and don’t want to give money
to a heathen
who cuts down
a tree for me.
I could do that by myself,
if I really wanted to. I really
want to buy that pool.

I’m tired of the silence.
I know it’s easier for you
to use your superpowers
to turn the tree into a Bible
that smells like a chomped-in
red delicious. If you do that
I will sue you.

 

(originally published in Cake & Grapes – Vol. I, Issue II)