Late

I am sorry I asked you
out piss-drunk at Mikey’s
at 3 A.M. a month
after we stopped
talking on Tinder

you told me I think
the time has passed
which was the most
polite way you could
have considering

this man you never met
came up to you erratic
and slurring–
men can be time
bombs single

and desperate
actions to regret
I should
have apologized
sooner

(originally published in Umbrella Factory, Fall 2018)

Profile Pictures

It was easy
in college
for every profile pic
to be a drunk photo
smiling. Beer cans
in hands in a bar,
at the beach,
in a house, in
a car. We were
all young and
happy
thinking us
adults. Legally,
sure, yes.
We were.
But the me
in those photos
wasn’t thinking
about bills
the endless
stack of debt
I still cannot
afford.
Of which
I was
in those moments
accumulating.
Like snow clouds
beckoning
over Lake Erie
I hoped would
cancel class
so I could drink.

 

(originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Fall 2018)

Boredom

I inspect my bedroom’s walls for new specks
after changing dead bulbs in the low sky
of this house I’ve lived in for three years.

Airplanes have always sounded the same,
haven’t they? I’ve slept close to airports
and railroads my entire life, hear engines

coming on like symptoms no need to pay attention
to, low hum in your throat mourning out
of the night. By now you’ve watched friends soar

into the horizon to break the illusion
of life’s infinite line, seen the cord dangling
down from the clouds and sometimes

                                                                                   you reach for it

(originally published in Umbrella Factory, Fall 2018)

Two Guys, Two Gallons of Yuengling, Two Plastic Jugs, and a Third Arrives Later with a Six-Pack of Yuengling

I call it renewal
a friendship vow, any vow

though I’m just as lost
as last time, in the playground

climbing green dinosaurs
to shouts of no, don’t, you’ll hurt

yourself but we didn’t, taking
photos of the dirt by the river

from the top. Held our jugs
like the Stanley Cup to declare

our air and crawled back down
through time and space to lumber

outward through the neighborhood
to eternity which is one warm drink

we have in our hands. To accomplish
nothing is something special. I have

felt the lukewarm heat of tongue last
longer than this. I waited years for

something extraordinary to occur.
In my memory we last eternal.

In my memory we are whole, sober,
on the cusp of happiness.

 

(originally published in The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Summer 2019)

Silica

i carry infection in saliva
like a point of pride

see, my city reeks of bone

tall skeleton skyscrapers
i’m numb again

as dental drill enters me
year after year

what birthed my decays?

raised to desire new
wants every day

wanting even wanting

my dad worked at a ford factory
after the great depression

churned out a new kid
every few years

seasons of rust
spreading on steel

here’s the sunset
he’d wake us to say &

spend the days molding
the yard
rough hands on saw

that was satisfactory
to him

for me oaks are cold towers &
grass not godmade

took a clump in my mouth
from the graveyard as a child &

i swear i tasted
death
but could not digest it

i’m but a skeleton

all life’s experiences
slip through me

masticating childhood
no pondering
the future with mom and dad

scooping fries at ponderosa &

we’d always go for seconds &

mint ice cream after

 

(originally published in Burningword Literary Journal, Fall 2018)

Soon

Broken bottles on the bridge
above the blue Olentangy.

My time in this city is
limited, as is my body,
the future a compromise,
shards from the persistence
of believing in transcendence.

The sweltering sun pummels
my skin, exposed, as I wait for
a sign to cross the river road.

 

(originally published in indefinite space, Spring 2019)

Geoff Asks Me to Make Broth

he says
I’ll do the hard
part not that you
can’t then cuts
a plastic bag
with scissors
and syrup
goos out
into a metal
cylinder and
I’d rather you
do the time
intensive part
of mixing
with hot water
and hands
me a white ladle
so I begin
in slow circles
when Monique
walks over
and whispers
you’re stirring
the pot
and stays there
beside me
these last weeks
of working
there umami
broth burning
steel I lift
the red
handle up
to stop the
flow
just past
the line

 

(originally published in LEVELER Poetry, Summer 2018)

Lyft Shift (2/9/17)

driving in circles
around the city

snow caps on all cars
little mountains shivering

tiny motors no one knows
the name of anyone

only a word on a screen
a face forgotten

and city lights
there’s a light rain mixed

with snow
the roads not slick

I am picking
up passengers

at the end of the night
and no further

than I was
at the beginning.

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)