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)

Wall, Edge, Chandelier

past the corner of this house’s Kubrick architecture
     on the couch a bundle of eyes
                               a slopping visual stain
       but it’s true. my vision is blurry
            I spent the walking sidewalk
            grapes inside my right cheek
    thinking how I want to win you.
                so romantic, you
                with a stranger in my house
                                about to
                          dine on the fruit of
                       ancient gods and I am laughing
                                            now to have the ghost
                                            within my walls, my green
                                                        heart long and longing
                                                                 lunging out my chest
                                                                       it sticks to paint
                                                                                  like spaghetti

 

(originally published in streetcake, Summer 2018)

Flowers

The most confident people I know
walk into a room and flowers bloom
from their mouths and somehow it’s not weird.
I have never been that kind of social chameleon.
In public speaking class I spoke until vines
wrapped around my neck and I coughed and
choked until I sat down. I am a little better
since then but it’s arrogant to believe I’ve snipped
this looming, twisting stem. I’m trying to be
better around strangers but I recently walked
into a public garden and a petunia tapped
me on the shoulder and said my name
and tapped me and said my name again
and when I finally looked it took
awhile for the petals to disappear
from her face to see it was a friend.

 

(originally published in *82 Review, Summer 2018)

Anywhere, USA

11PM and the street is bleak
in this unseasonably cool May

these parking lots are vast
national parks of the suburbs

their Joshua tree streetlights
ubiquitous luminescence

a steady stream of street cars
these wild intractable headlamp

eyes they know where they’re going
that’s what makes it sad everywhere

McDonald’s flags waving half-mast

 

(originally published in The Tau, Summer 2018)