Remnants

You don’t hold me tight so I know you want to go.

You already let go of alcohol, caffeine, Dexter after the tumor.

My mother told me, after my father died, she would never love another man.

When she loved another man, she refused to let him die beside her.

Now he leaves her rain-soaked voicemails from Italy.

She drives to Cleveland, Kentucky, Ann Arbor, to avoid the thought of him.

Lost loves are remnants of embers but that’s it.

When I was with Amy, she drank coffee and I did not.

The mornings, now, I caffeinate myself a buzzing lantern.

Who sleeps that well anymore?

Sara tells me one of her exes nightly swallowed eight Benadryls to sleep.

Pink pills stack inside us in our battles against sleeping alone.

I have a soft blue blanket and a queen-sized bed.

When a day leaves don’t ask me to differentiate between darkness and dream.

 

(originally published in I-70 Review, Fall 2019)

Grief Poetry

The summer shattered the year
Dad passed, and Mom’s grief
became the fall; to cope, she
wrote her first poetry, wrote
sheets of ice that turned to
winter months of seeking
meaning in icicles– living
alone, she praised the blades of
cold above her door, believing
Dad her angel sharp enough to
pierce the heart of loneliness.
There was no Thanksgiving
that year, no Christmas.
The frigid core of family–
she kept writing our story.
She would not let us forget.

 

(originally published in Z Publishing’s “America’s Emerging Poets Series: Midwest Edition,” 2018)

The Last Poem I Will Write in 2017

& the Louis Armstrong vinyl gravels What a Wonderful World
while my lover & I sing along in frogvoice & my roommate bakes
pecans in yellow pajamas & dances the Charleston once the track
changes & the mutt watches her & the black cat peers out above
a cardboard box’s walls like she’s protecting herself from death &
how little she knew about how close we all were & still are & what
we can do to further protect ourselves coat our shells in olive oil
salt sugar and rosemary / how the shell of the year could have tasted
like fatty nuts resembling healthy & how this is the last day we can bite
fully into the year & the record spins another new track & how innocent
each seems in the vinyl’s foggy trumpets & nostalgic drums spinning slowly
out our ears into the silence that overtakes the world

(originally published in Jenny, Fall 2018)

 

2014

Of course I remember how to be alone,
how to drag a lawn chair out to smoke
a shore and offer loneliness a bottle.

But there you would meet me
on a staircase of sand and we’d
gaze at the stars, meld into soft

landscape, cheek nuzzled in
a palm, starfish digging into
the sandwarm face of earth.

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Summer 2018)

2017 Mantra

Build bridges, not walls,
though bridges ice faster
than roads we traveled–
hundreds of miles,
only to boomerang back
to before, while thousands of
armed windmills gasp for air–

the sunset through the bug-
stained window moves faster
than us toward a semblance of home–
swirls of clouds quivering
into the arms of weeping
willows simply
weeping–

 

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, 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)