Courier

Delivering packages–
I see names, not
always faces, but you,

I know your name
too well, your face in my
mind a ceaseless rain.

I knock on your door–
your dog barks,
wags his tail

when he sees me
through the window. I do
not stay for a signature.

I walk briskly
to my van and drive
to my next ping,

somewhere deep in
the city, another box
with a stranger’s name

on a different, faceless porch.


(originally published in Uppagus, Spring 2021)

My Barber Says Hello in Public

Often, before a haircut, I make
the joke to a friend– I don’t know
if you’ll recognize me later!

In the chair, the barber holds
scissors, removes my glasses.
His form blurs in the mirror.

At the conclusion of a cut, I
must accept the physical
implications of my new self.

But my friend Kurt once said
in each moment we become
a different person, our atoms

scrambled with each second’s
footstep, our hairs scattered on
the floor– they, too, rearranging.

(originally published in Miranda House Philosophy Magazine, Spring 2021)

Stomach-Something

The growth inside you, you can only
guess exists– the strengthening

malignant allium a tumor blossomed
& when your stomach fails to digest

you leave your house in pain to meet
me at the bar & fuck, you needed a job

with benefits but I, too, lack insurance
& down downers at happy hour. You

tell me nothing solid settles
anymore. What you eat eats you

& I fear, soon, you will not eat.

(originally published in Agapanthus Collective, Spring 2021 – nominated for Best of the Net)

Hot Sauce

You know how much is too much but
you shake the bottle anyway over browned

grilled cheese sandwich and bite in.
The things you think you can get away with–

oh, the tiny fires you’ve stepped across in
the temple of your longing. Little dabs of red

on canvas– the meat of the situation is you’re
taken but, Lord, the flame goes hallelujah blue.

I’m speaking a poetry of pigs. Relationship
as slaughterhouse. Relationship as bacon

you want to slather lust all over.

 

(originally published in Adelaide, Fall 2019)

Fashion

Clothes as mushroom mindtrip–
spider silk covers a body.

A wallpaper of lava lamp
transformations – decorate the house

however you see fit. Clown pants. Squirting
roses. Tuxedo coated in gelatin. All art is

political, or none of it. This statement launches
to the topmost window of a towering bank

and bounces deep into the trenches
of my thin, leatherworn wallet.

(originally published in Gingerbread Ritual Literary Journal, Winter 2021)

My Laptop Malfunctions on Thanksgiving

The machine shut down after clicks and pops– the screen
flickered bright then dimmed into near-zero

visibility. You said our love had become that,
crying into the dark on my chest. I couldn’t feel the tears,

but we feasted this Thanksgiving on the blood of birds
and the kindness of vegetables, this ritual of melancholy

holidays at my mother’s home, the knife pushing
deeper and deeper into the flesh of tradition, and you

said that’s not what you wanted to become, some reliable
device upon which to take for granted, and I apologized,

I didn’t know why you were crying and I wasn’t, so you
turned the lights on and laugh-cried until we fell asleep

 

(originally published in SHARK REEF, Winter 2020)

Local Bar’s Annual Water Balloon Battle

Yes I am drinking Oktoberfest beer is my raft
But listen Local Bar celebrated birthday number four
And held a water balloon war at Goodale Park
My army heaved water balloons at the other’s soft music
It ended sharply in a siren call of silence
Because we ran out of inflatables
Red blue green yellow scattered in the grass
Parsing through the blades during cleanup
Someone mentioned we’re grazing
While picking up the latex shards
I thought the animals we unintentionally kill!
Deer need stomach surgery after eating sugary fragments
And penguins in the arctic beg us
Please unplug your computers you’ll run out of poetry
Deep recess of eventual yearning
We freeze in the act of self-entertainment
Becoming self-immolators
For the love of a lover or for love of ourselves
We find ourselves stricken by wants we cannot control
And they will come to control us

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Fall 2019)

Trunk

Always having a crush
makes life fun. The pining,

as Vonnegut preached, even
if only for a glass of water.

It was in the parking lot, dark
after shutting the trunk where

we stored your viola. You
hugged me, whispered music.

Your warmth pressed against
mine– epiphany. A concerto

we don’t know the notes to. How
do you shut the trunk to a partner

you’ve stored your notes in for
a decade? I see the complacency.

The spare tire in reach. Our palms
touched each time we switched

our beers. It’s true: one of us will
move soon, and I want to whisper

give me a reason not to.

 

(originally published in bluepepper, Fall 2019)

Pabst Blue Ribbon With Cat on Lap and November Rain

Have you felt the season’s new bite?
Body shivering unable to process it
yet. I don’t want to leave the house,
the purr from fur an engine revving
nowhere. I won a blue ribbon once,
too, my mom won’t stop bragging
about. College: outstanding student
filmmaker, documentarian
recording red-eyed the mist
of dawn relishing any chill. Went
to L.A. for industry but witnessed
the bloom of everyone else, jealous
sensitivity of light in this lens. I hid
inside poetry. Every day was recycled
aluminum that sought any warm body
to hold then drink away. I am
comfortable here. Still, I doze in
shadowed corners of a home,
unresponsive when you call my name.

(originally published in The Furious Gazelle, Fall 2020)