Cigs

we smoke
our paper
lungs

in the storm
then run
from your mom

to seek
an awning
to shield

the holes
in our chests

flames
tempered
by rain

clouds
scream
from our mouths

billowed gray
how it floats
above like

to warn us
forests need not
consume flame

 

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

A Note on Jealousy

When I ran into Heather at Union and said hello
Jennifer asked who’s Heather with smoke alarm eyes
I said a friend I meant it jealousy is the kind of
thing that puts teeth in a line of vision I was jealous
of your Emi too sometimes one must chomp the
string one time I believed I could love without
caring about the past but stones settled along
the path can still be pushed by gusts under a sky
wherein there is no ceiling or ending except
for the vastness of our longing in space

 

(originally published in The Fictional Cafe, Spring 2019)

Cedars-Sinai

Vital signs at zero, a squiggly line gone infinity–
guess what I’ve prepared for. An eternity of this
nothingness. I tossed the phone like a grappling

hook at your distance and it caught. You left it
hanging on the bricks, though, and moved to
California, where I used to sleep the streets in

my Ford Fiesta, the same car we drove to Melt:
a time bomb heart attack. How close we were
back then, each deep-fried grilled cheese bite

hushed the thrumming. Fingers greasy– wiped
on napkins, wiped and wiped and wiped.

 

 

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

July 4th, 2018

This era of desperation breeds a palette of better patriotism, our
thieved hearts aluminum recyclables in the midst of a heatwave

rolling across Ohio, and it is true that such inspiration gnaws at
malleable love at such an intersection of life’s humble turntable

of destruction. I want to love my country; in this way, I drink to
brown it out, to fade the familiar affairs. I arrived at the morning

parade slurring words but kissed my friends’ cheeks. We huddled
in the shade waiting for the moment to pass, but it won’t until an

ultimate firework leaves us stranded with a framework, electric
in its ability to ignite. Blueberry the bartender transformed his

truck bed into a wading pool around which we barbecued and
danced, dipping into a camaraderie of bottles and hands, smoke

the ritualized haze of togetherness that allows us to continue.

(originally published in Botticelli Magazine, Spring 2019)

Tuesday Night Karaoke at Hounddog’s Pizza

Another weeknight. Of course
we’re being responsible. Hell,
we chose the karaoke spot
with the Christians congregating
at a table before the mic. The
first from the group sings
Reliant K; the next sings
Hozier’s Take Me to Church
and they all nod and clap
their hands. I want to
tell them it’s a goddamn
metaphor. The whole thing.
I mean, life. Not simply the
lyrics (although worship
in the bedroom seems
obvious– from Adam’s
rib came Eve, hard, both
of them, I mean they bit
into the apple, crunched
to the core, came hard
in the likeness of God’s
merciless love. But what
these friends mean is
a crucifix hanging
above the bed, in front
of the mirror, so that
they can watch themselves
pray in the presence
of Jesus). I mean I want to
tell them but I don’t say
anything, and they leave
as I hit the stage to sing
Psycho Killer, leave before
I can tell them you start
a conversation / you
can’t even finish it.
You’re talking a lot but
you’re not saying
anything. Run, run,
run, run, run, run
away.

 

(originally published in MORIA, Spring 2019)

Aladdin’s

Funny, thinking back, the restaurant– hell,
the industry, those incessant phone calls
in the midst of rush, my snaking past
corners with three plates of hummus
and shawarma in aluminum, warm
from the kitchen, only to waste
in a stranger’s presence, scraps
on porcelain I’d bus, then zigzag
through the floorplan of tables.

Funny, thinking now, how little has
changed– insecure in economics,
I’ve jumped the lilypads of job
after job, the backbreaking work
of conforming, of each return home
with something new to say but I’ve
said it, I’ve said my best, my cap-
stone thesis shredded in California,
back when full of possibility–

I desire a bowl of time
loops. Cereal in my milk.

I didn’t even use silverware
in college, a joke inside a riddle
presented as a gift I constantly
unwrap, umbrellas of green
folding into myself in the rain,
suffocating, blinding, this pirouette
of place, this unfixable sedan
screaming off the shoulder
of the highway, smoke
signals ablaze and late
for work.

(originally published in Little Rose Magazine, Winter 2019)

Solace

It was not solace we sought in the woods,
but rather, logs to provide fire for years.
Having known too many temporary timbers that
smoke then ash in small stretches of time slung
across the small rooms one week to the next,
among the dying leaves we wanted no others.
To watch what turned red on the fringe of the
world’s balance on a sling so fragile we chose
to forget. How long have we known each other?
How long will we? Days whisk into years
without stopping. We know nothing will be
forever; just as every good memory builds
the foundation of happiness worn like vodka
on jeans. If there were a blemish it was houseflies
swept off the cabin’s hardwood. Wings on bodies
in the margins, inert. How soon for us, too.
How winds change in a week but the fire
we started on arrival lingered smoke after
the last departing tires moved pebbles from
the driveway into life’s wild, winding road.

 

(originally published in Dime Show Review, Winter 2019)

Another Drunken Summer

Last summer, clunks of glass,
grapefruit juice across the veiled
table. We stayed drunk

through sweltering June, to cool
off with Bella Sera pinot grigio,
Tostitos, queso. How much is

too much pleasure? These half-
empty days of water we are
not eager to drink. Sit in shade

til sundown, table umbrella up
to block the cancer sun we
know. We know.

(originally published in Kissing Dynamite, Spring 2018)