sharp turns for the hospital’s worst
left left left.
sometimes the beeping
(turn my bed)
or the yellow window birds.
looking for cardinals
through interstate belt loops
or rings of cigarette smoke.
some days are asthmatic
others are just right.
the warmth of a blanket
this hole no one will lift you out of.
(originally published in Gyroscope Review, Spring 2018)
Nice to pretend
there’s a thing all-healing.
It’s early spring and we both
ache– my mouth, your stomach.
Searching for remedy we lay
leglocked in bed to distract
ourselves with affection
but smell of Tiger Balm.
You like its touch, I like
the texture– the initial
dipping into hope that
maybe we’ll find relief
in the burn it leaves
in the air, or in my hand
on your stomach,
then in your hand.
(Originally published in Poetry Super Highway, Summer 2017)
You cannot gut a tomato without first
remembering the garden. The mud-rutted
fingers pulled at weeds; silver shovels spiraled
to and from the sky. The spit, the rain. It took months–
years– didn’t it, to differentiate? To grow into something
unrecognizable? You knew what this would become,
the way a person finds her own shadow
insufficient. A broken silhouette of scarecrow.
It was then I could not see you– with your bangs
of hay, the ground sprouting milkweed.
Those tired hands milled ‘til the sun had no meaning.
You wore dark clouds as a cape stained
with mud the work helped us forget.
(originally published in Ground Floor Drinkers, Summer 2017)
in front of the mirror wondering
how you made it through those nine months
to get nothing but condensation from a cloud
yes the smiles returned in the desert
when the scythe allowed we spoke truths
and asked everyone to provide thirst
because we were the cacti with reservoirs
of lust and destruction
laid out in desiccate flowerbeds
our wallets filled with zinnias
while we were filled
from the green of living
sometimes we are horses
galloping along dirt paths
and westbound highways
hoping they lead to ocean
but it leads always to night
we barely know how to be raw anymore
how to sink dead teeth into apples
and want the core
our thin gums only cling to our mouths
because there’s nowhere else to call home
no more words that can make you
believe in a future
(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Summer 2016)
A river isn’t really blue. The Mississippi
has dried, and even love is transparent.
We adorn ourselves blue so loss
can be quantified in color. Such
is the brittle paintbrush, naked
and grieving, but we are not
the color of grieving,
nor tobacco spat in the dugout
in shame. We remember
the dirt, and who we loved,
long before we searched
clouds’ faces for ghosts,
her grays in the white
within eternal blue.
(originally published in ‘the vacant hinge of a song’, courtesy of Origami Poems Project)