Morning Reflection

I walk waiting for the clarity of nature to upend my core
having forgotten again another grand idea I had the night before

the rain-soaked sidewalk
& deep dent on a passenger door

a two-story house I think is too tall
too wet       bricks and white columns

each window a translucent universe of past
raindrops & the universe everything ahead of you
                                                                     out of reach past the physical

the American flag waves in the wind
black sedans drive to a hair studio

talk show hosts spit they just
spit

& my dream once was to be on television
& in Los Angeles it happened
                                                                    my face on mom’s television

but otherwise forgotten
still signals invisible waves

here I am a field the scribbled wandering
eyes & a blue jay makes a home in a tree

& me in the days I become
when I look in any mirror

 

(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2018)

Kylie’s at the Ohio State Game

& she celebrates among the drunken dead at the Horseshoe

how ball-missiles fly through air and land cradled in young idols’ arms

I remember this,
                                            fear of missing out– no: just missing
                                                                                                               fumbling
                         no want to pull winter hat over my ears

                                            I drink spiked cider reminding me the summer river

                         no breathing fire into my palms into
                                                                                        the frigid heart of Columbus. No,
I am waiting for the pedestrians to pass my house. Mostly decked in red, some
in opposing green, almost like Christmas, but without–

family knows the apples I douse in vodka.

             family knows my unwell.
family knows my eye toward the wind I find too cold
                                                                                                 & blow against

been awhile since Kylie & I were breathing the same air
                                                             & I’ve got a kind of sixth sense for it

                                                                               (I see dead people)

                       but not in a ghost way more like everyone I pass has ghosted
                                                                              (the phantom passes in public)

& it’s true we both head home for the Christian holidays.
                                                                                                        Xmas, xgiving.

                                  Cars passing the same routes
                                                                 to different destinations.

                                                                      Desolate highway.

                                          Kylie’s down the street & I’m drowning here
                                                                         making a scene

                                                                         her silhouette at the surface joyous
                                                                                                                     but occupied

 

(originally published in Qwerty, Spring 2018)

We Try on Masks at Dollar General

Which is to say we kissed many strangers
today, so many mouths without knowing.

Both of us date someone else now, though
lock eyes through pinholes of cheap latex,

despite the guises’ vacant stares– these two,
skeletons. Admire the wrinkles of bendable

skull-skin. Remember our bones– last summer,
our bodies thin crackers. Could snap first sink

of snow but we survived last winter, the fall
of our alcoholism, nearly a year passed,

still fighting. I miss the bricked patios
of our Old North bars, sloshing ice cubes

around until disappearing into fog.
Only now, with new identities,

do we walk through the door.

 

(originally published in Midway Journal, Spring 2018; Nominated for Best of the Net)

Valley Kids

Our beginning was rooted in the oak of a throwaway job;
I was twenty, admiring clay pots we painted in the strokes
of humid Akron days, its summer colors swirling blue.

To approach you would have been more than I could handle–
in the playground of desire, I chucked woodchips of my heart
into the air and they never came down. I think of you often–

in pastel cartoons, how remembered faces fade. After summer
ended, I knew I would never see you again. How the seasons
burn like leaves then rise to ashes, clinging warm to trees.

 

(originally published in Poetry Super Highway, 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)

Legalese

Here, we
are a law.

Lawyers of alloy &
beaming far off.

This galaxy lazy
noise & heartbeat.

Hash & shadow,
hair & gold.

Skin, its own
constitution.

Freckles rumina-
ting speckles.

Sunshine the gift &
a Sistine visit.

Angels mistaking
mouths for wings.

I thought you wanted
something like this.

 

 

(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2018)

Stuck in an Elevator

Between floors I meet calm–

meditation when firefighters
arrive. Frank O’Hara might
be proud though there were

no red lights streaming in how
one can wedge one’s own ideology
in a wavering tower halfway to

clouds but the building shakes on
bad foundation though a soul is
structurally sound in one way

how it rises a few floors
a crease in the rope to stop
movement how could an elevator

even stop why wouldn’t it if I were one
I would rise only being this lonely
and quit too in the in-between of

sustaining love or faith forever
but interstitials demand warmth
around mind with winter jacket

how such claustrophobic space within
you can force yourself to blow
air into your fist then float away

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)

 

False Alarm

Street sweeping
happens irregularly
around here. Every
three months then
you forget about it.
I’ve been off and on in love
with my roommate since the
day she moved in. November
rain, the red-bricked road,
I look out my window–
no cars on the side
of the street I parked on.
I scramble from my room,
her boyfriend in the hallway,
and I yell street cleaning!
His eyes bug up
and we race down
stairs to beat the tow
trucks but I open the door
to see cars parked around mine.
I tell him I’m going anyway
to check the signs
which I do in my blue
flip-flops, waddling out into
wet grass to find
next week’s the sweeping–
and don’t we always
wait yet another week
to cleanse ourselves of what
we fear we don’t need?
A bad job
or incompatible lover.
For months they have fought
about necessary changes
neither of them will make,
and just last week
she told me
the cycle of her life
goes in years by threes.
The job, the lover,
the house, the dust.
There’s a chill. I’m not wearing
a jacket, so I go back inside
and tell him it’s next week
but he’s known this for weeks.

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)

Horoscope – May 13, 2017

Expect your love life
to take a dramatic turn
for the better, Taurus.

Consider power steering:
without it, those daunting
curves down the Pacific Coast

can lead to rock wall
or fence or ocean.
When you drove to Philadelphia

without power steering
for the Black Swan premiere,
you didn’t trust your friends

to steer your Taurus. When
you sold it, the red-faced
salesman strained a sweat

steering it mere meters
into wide-open lot.
He asked how do you drive

this dangerous piece of shit?
You answered I am more self-
confident than I have been

in a long time. Today, you
charged down the staircase
wearing a pink polo your

romantic partner said she
wanted to punch you in
the face for. It’s no wonder

she reacts to you
in a positive way when you
change. Make the most of this

opportunity. Walk dirt
roads drunk on Hennessy
with the movement of stars.

 

(originally published in Construction, Spring 2018)