Multimodality

too many avenues to take
to achieve              [what]?

goldfisted, I punch Jupiter
through the rings
I’m bound to. a racetrack

this zipline I cling
to the forest not the tether
nor the trees many

branched and beholden
to gravity I seek
to lunge headfirst

through the brush
renewal in sharp
sticks and scrape

the surface of
what composes me

(originally published in Ginosko Literary Magazine, Winter 2021)

NYE, 2010

that was the monochrome new year
I reached for your leg like a frog with long
tongue and you were on
the couch flyswatting everyone

the walls were drunk too the way
we behaved in the wild dorms
animals celebrating the turn of a page
the setting of the sun it was winter

in Berea and we held each other
like it would never be warm
again we caught snowflakes on
our tongues left black bottles in dead grass

 

(originally published in Datura, Fall 2019)

Working the Cologne Department at Macy’s, 2010

My olfactory nerve already overflooded with Acqua di Gio
on business cards beneath fluorescents, I did not expect

to run into my first love in the wilderness of Black Friday,
where hard rain was people. I sought a higher ground– escalator

to the bathroom to text my crush on my TracFone, until the arms
on my watch contorted a certain way. But my tarot cards flipped

when I recognized Kristen from afar, both of us unsure,
unlike in fifth grade, on the bus to Mohican, she slept

beside me, her hair fire on my shoulder, strobe lights of a confused
adolescence that entire week. Camp ended when everyone

contracted poison ivy. How to scratch the mind until snapping
back into self– in that present, years later, I thought she might be

fate and, thus, planned a coffee date, but because I did not
carve the path I wanted to take, winter came. And went.

(originally published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Winter 2021)

In Waves

It comes in waves, the grief, though you laugh
as you say so, because we are in the Atlantic,
children again, uppercutting large tides,
and I never learned to swim, but the saying–
the metaphor– is true, the water is relentless,
and we were states away from the hospital,
where your father was, when you got the
call, and later, in our hotel’s game room,
there was a balancing act– you, your family,
the ping-pong paddles on the black table,
the plastic balls rolling slowly onto the floor
at the end of another meaningless game, the
bouncing, then physics, entropy ending–
how else to reconcile lost time? This dusting,
this airing out, now, swimsuits soaked from
the salt of the sea, this fabric, this residue
dripping off of this vacation into the old
Civic, the broken A/C, the windows’ open
breeze, silence of the road lodged between
green hills, so endless, our breathing.

 

(originally published in Creative Writing Ink’s Monthly Contest, November 2019 Winner)

Drinking a Rhinegeist Truth

10:33 AM on July 4th
                  & if that ain’t some
                  gunslinging fortune

     my drinks have teeth
                      can’t mix with coffee

I am trying to stay awake
                      I am trying to stay

a firework of politically conscious
colors

most mornings the soup of ritual

I gnaw at the aluminum’s tab
                      when my beer has ended

I am not satisfied
                            no
                                 I am not satisfied

with this ending

 

(originally published in Datura, Fall 2019)

New July

This army of cicadas returns home
from a distant war– old love, we
retreat to our comforts after pulling
weeds– Kentucky Mule burns,
melting ice at the bottom of
the glass, I am on your couch
then inevitably your floor,
your hand on my knee.
Chatter from the gathering rises
just outside the back door,
footsteps up the stairs,
and we embrace against
the humming refrigerator,
pushing toward a lush
new vegetation.

 

(originally published in Adelaide, Fall 2019)

Ill Pizzicato

Too tired to play a love song–
the strings on this violin must be sick.

Pizzicato, pizzicato. Pestering
the soundscape. Some days are for sitting

in bed arguing– the toilet flushes.
Your roommate must be sick

of us on the verge of breaking up and
throwing too much of ourselves against

the wall. The bang-bang-bling to distract
ourselves– we contract ourselves to another

week, at least. Then the same: four
bland walls and our muted voices

pestering the soundscape of
what we used to call Paradise.

(originally published in Setu, Summer 2020)

Click-Clack

we didn’t do yoga except your feet
on my shoulders & months later

you zip past me with my new lover
on your bicycle      the acacias stink

of memory      you see us arm
in arm on the way to the library

as we used to     too    but when we
kissed was a web spiders clung to

a hunger many legs couldn’t satisfy

 

(originally published in WINK, Winter 2020)

Now That the End Is in Sight

Our shared strength wanes–
vaxxed, we talk about the end
like a peek of sunrise through
the blinds. Yes, beyond
winter depression we just had
depression and didn’t know
it. Spring sun’s out and
we are outside drinking.
Kids graze by like
the virus never happened.
But I was there. I was
strong. Even as a kid,
finding my father crumpled
on the floor and convulsing,
eyes rolled to the back of his
head during his stroke,
I calmly dialed 911
and waited until the
ambulance arrived, and
I was fine the whole time.
But when my sister
screeched her SUV’s tires
into our driveway, I let
go. A lifeboat. I ran
into her arms, crying,
not knowing how to say
anything I wanted to say,
and she just held me
and said it’s going
to be okay– but she
didn’t know. This past
year, I’ve held you to tell
you it’s going to be okay,
but how could I know?
Now that the end is in
sight, we wait for the light,
wilting in its arms to meet it.

(originally published in Capsule Stories, Spring 2021)