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)

Transition

I walk this familiar street
of spring. Cherry blossoms,

sunshine, the desire
to drink. Yesterday

I snuck into a field
with a flask to avoid

the knife room I
tell myself to stay

out of. My longing a black
rolled-up rug. I tell myself

Stay wound, trying how
I can before I let again

the drunk in me to walk
through the door,

spill me out in scuff
marks and mudprints

just after the rain.

 

(originally published in Penmen Review, Summer 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)

Junior Year English

In front of me in class. The long strokes
of chalk on board. I first whispered jokes

only you could hear. When we were face-
to-face I lost my wit. Young me in headlight

love neutralized by it. Your dad was a dentist
so I polished my yellow teeth. And yours

were gleams of white that guarded words!
I wrote what you said in journals to keep

them secret in my heart. For everyone
I have since loved I keep the language.

 

(originally published in Loch Raven Review, 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)

Sketches of Buildings

Happy to finally be introduced, you said I’m proud of this architecture.
It’s true– your sketches are exquisite. In the gallery, your large displays

of heart-shaped buildings: blueprints of love in metaphorical forms.
A while ago, when I was lost and new (and you were, too), I knocked at

your door and the day led us to a festival, a sunny ninety. We drank
lemonade and walked with sour-sweet lips as ghosts through strangers.

It didn’t work out, us, but we’d see each other at shows and you’d ask me
when you’d meet my partner. Next time, I’d say, like I was ready to build

something new from the crumbles my desire likes to leave, how
to draw these ashes shapes for someone new to admire.

(originally published in where is the river, Winter 2021)

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)

This House She Won’t Want

This house, she won’t want
to sell. Where once voices,

now the TV knobbed up.
She raised us right

here, boiled soup
cold nights before gathering

at the table. Cold nights
now under blanket

still shivering. She won’t
cook anymore, no

guests. TV talkin’ loud
blank conversations. Least

the room flickers in
the dark. That door-shutting

sound. An actor comes
home on tv to say hello.

Mom dreams off recliner.
The show fades to black.

(originally published in CERASUS, Summer 2021)

Harpist

Every suburb needs a callous-
fingered harpist to bleed heaven
from her hands into her driveway,

to raindrop angels into puddles
after storms of indifference.
Imagine: lawns grow in

the pizzicato of days first plucked,
then plodding. Homes, once full
of promise, rot– bricks erode

to the sharp of strings
slowly falling from the sky.

(originally published in Hedge Apple, Spring 2019)

Disney

cartoons were a kind of Bible
inside the music a gala
of fleeting buzzing bells

I’m distracted
in my present
situation

looking at the world
from the periphery of wine
glasses stashes of
amusements

laughing
gutted fabrics worn
I swore I said

I’d wait for you
I’m sorry I’m

ten years too late
for the wedding
I euthanized

lips I sipped
from goblets
the weight

on the tray
I could not
carry

 

(originally published in Peeking Cat Poetry, Spring 2019)