Drunken Rambling from the Coast

A former friend said to me, I’m jealous of your whimsical life.
I haven’t stopped drinking since I was in a hotel room
with his wife, my feet kneading red, chalklike carpet,
their honeymoon’s pall a dim, amber light. She said

you need Vitamin D, Sunshine. I made a habit
of overdosing on the sun. Tell me again what I need.
I had yet to unpeel friendship’s pear with my lips–
and sink. I danced with her months before

at The Viper Room, my shirt half-clipped. I could not stop
thinking about how we might fit under the drunken moon:
her candles the flares in a darkening room, wax trickling
with no end, the rose-like incense rotting the room…

I read an article claiming that remembering
a memory is like saving a JPEG–
each time you remember, the image pixelates
a little more until it blurs beyond recognition.

It was dark when it happened. We were drinking.
Streetlights cast orange bars on the bed through
window blinds while we slipped hungrily
from existence. Her face was a spade

but we felt like the garden, digging deeply
into ourselves until we became an open cemetery.

***

I drink screwdrivers to feel the acid on my tongue,
feeling better since fleeing to the bay’s foggy shores.
I make stops to study the water at each chilly beach,
every heave of the tide as clear as the last–

and as frenzied– her arm reaches into the sand
closer and closer to pull me in, have one last good look
at me to ensure I disappear, if I’m not already gone.
I have my flask. The sunset. Miles of winding road.

Memories to fade, to make, to fade.

 

(originally published in Memoryhouse, Spring 2016)

I Tell Her I Love Her

I tell my girlfriend I love her
before we go to bed every night.
I tell her I love her in Vegas, in front
of slot machines spinning statistics,

neon colors blinding eyes beyond
our blur of vodka. I tell her I love her
before we fight in a tent on the beach
drunken under blankets and after that, too.

I don’t tell my mom I love her
on the phone when she’s alone
in her bedroom, when she cries
many nights because her twenty-

nine year marriage lives only in memories,
photographs, marginalia, in the musk
of dried sweat on forest-green cargos.
He had dragged an oak limb

after soft rain; now, crusted mud–
crevices alive in the treading
of boots– traces new footsteps
on less-traversed floors.

 

(originally published in Boston Accent Lit, Summer 2016)

Teeth, Eggs, and the City Limits (or: Tinder)

our short harmony brushes my teeth
flosses the ridges bending eating
at me the yellowy plaque on white

the yolks in morning how inside
we are tender sunny side up I love
the way you look at me those

runny eyes gushing off the pan
onto black-and-white tile floor
grids the burgeoning cities

in our minds cars read
the streetlights’ caution
as go, go, go . . .

 

(originally published in The City Key, Spring 2016)

Mia Khalifa

Life imitates art in the way
memory imitates life– your face

reminds me of my last swollen
laughter held. Sometimes

there is no comparison– oh, we’ll rise
from geysers with sulphur still

in our fabrics– loose, blue threads
hanging at the maw.

We disassociate and wish
to converge into stars on a single strand

of light–
I remember that copper smell

of a new roll of pennies,
when fifty cents meant more than

being half of something
not quantifiable at all.

 

(originally published in Pouch, Issue #6)

Thanksgiving, 2015

The turkey was sacrificial. We dug
our fingers through dark meat

to retrieve the stuffing but avoided
the controversial topics, the fat on our bones.

What bubbled was the broth, salt
on stone, and Mom drank sparkling

juice cocktails, pretended it was wine–
laughter compressed from the mash

in our mouths, the soft chew and gravy.
How simple it would be to spill grease

from the pan over the tablecloth, so temporary–
ten years ago was the last we all celebrated,

the last our talking bounced from mouths,
caught softly in our ears. After the funeral

we peeled grapefruit. Its rotting meat
blessed a white plate for days after the feast,

when we gorged enough of ourselves
to ask what it is about the lumps in apple pie

we savor, when the tartness
burrows new holes in our teeth–

maybe it’s the cutting, dulled knife on pie,
and the serving– one piece on porcelain,

a fragment, a memory
of what it means to be whole.

 

(originally published in Jazz Cigarette, Fall 2016)

Why Dogs Would Be Great Film Directors

It was tough to leave for work this morning,
collie’s silhouette usually at the top of the stairs
a shadow slinking, eyes glowing.

Your heart nearly stopped flailing its arms
as it sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.
When you watched Silver Linings Playbook
you saw your dog in the face of Bradley Cooper
those dark eyes shining in the greater darkness–

driving home with the key stabbing the ignition,
you drove wanting anything to please you.

It wasn’t in the trees or the swaying lights
or the Post-It notes crumpled in the bagless bin–

no, collie ran in circles. You reached for a treat,
your heart compiling sand and blowing glassworks–

collie on set with Bradley Cooper, his eyes
on her galvanized eyes and all she wants is ham
you’ve never seen a ham this juicy and
why am I excited about ham and

collie with her eyes makes Bradley
see the ham, want the ham,
want the ham like never before.

(originally published in Nude Bruce Review, Summer 2016)

 

Following a Trip to the L.A. Zoo

wear sunscreen you’ll thank me faster

do not come to me bearing ailments

it was just yesterday gifts of topaz and corundum your ring-fingers will dance will light over penny slot screens aplomb

some shared jackpot of drunkenness

or worse

sparks from fireflies in the Georgia summer floating flickering stars lightly humming

when a hum turns into a birdcall we whistle like sparrows on a branch

twigs in our talons we offer to the other

twinkle of the moon through the swaying branches above

voices like an owl-song who

are we to hover over the other’s hopes who

will pinch us find we are composed of feathers too raggedy to summon the strength

fingers meekly bristle against your cheek soft as the whirring of the window fan we drift to sleep

so California is the drought I cannot feel it devoid of breathing like a sandstorm

California someday drifts into the Pacific I am my own island thirsting for wet soil

your cotton-morning taste will itself someday drift

 

 

(originally published by The Virginia Normal)