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)

Hilton Garden Inn

I had to refuse your hotel room, middle of the infinite
August evening. I was new in a city of ever-rising water

and you came to me, promising a raft. I couldn’t forget
finding the stars with you beyond all this light pollution

as we floated on our backs in your leased pool. When
you told me you were lost, too, I didn’t think you meant

you’d say no to your forever lover in the fog on a beach
in New Hampshire. I thought we’d wait much longer.

(originally published in Monterey Poetry Review, Summer 2020)

Dieback

At Kelly’s, in the chokehold of August humidity,
we drink a pitcher of water before noticing–
like a brain of gum underneath a support–
a cigarette butt lodged at the bottom.
When we show our server, she shouts fucking
savages! This is why we can’t serve anything
outside. I tell my partner, if it makes you feel
better, it’s what we can’t see in the water
that will kill us. We get a free beer but, for
once, we’re aware of the toxin. It doesn’t matter,
though, being thirty-one with thirty-one years
to go. Twenty-fifty is when we will see
the clouds ignite. She says I want to say
we’ll be okay but I know there’s no way.
The Amazon’s in flames and hordes of
whales wash up on California’s plastic
shores. The water wars are coming from
actions of fascists and– the next day,
at the office, a narcissist colleague
sticks his dead cigarette into the soil of
one of our tomato plants on the balcony
outside the front door and he must think–
oh, as we find it cooling at sunset–
he thinks there will be no consequences.

(originally published in Quince Magazine, Fall 2020)

At Crazy Mocha (Shadyside)

I don’t know what you’re saying–
I was just baptized in sensory deprivation
saltwater. You took an Adderall

to live in your tornado of case papers,
clacking away at the keyboard buzzing
with school sentences I do not crave

to understand. From the speakers, jazz
dances uneven through honeyhive fluorescents
above us. I scoot my chair in closer

to the table, and there is a squeak either
from my movement or a clarinet falsetto.
Sometimes the world is synchronized;

sometimes a miracle I make excuses for.
I held the planet’s limestone on my neck
when I was afloat– it became weightless.

(originally published in RASPUTIN, Winter 2020)

Film Industry Interview While Walking Bloomfield Bridge

Wild this wind in Pittsburgh–
I am Bukowski reformed
twisting through steel
structures teeth gleaming.

Synthesis of former lives–
Columbus, Los Angeles
drunken pursuit of art
now an upstream leaf.

Marginalia within pages
of tattered library books–
I’ve so little to say you
hear a deep, empty well.

To march back into
my film-reel past
and gloss over poetry–
ghost cleaning gutters.

Allow some space
within my wanting.
My heart an old lens
zooming into the river.

 

(originally published in The Aurorean, Spring 2020)

Descendant of the Big Bang

Self-absorption has turned me
into a selfish alien. On Earth,

we live in isolation
waiting for the cosmic dawn

to return in a brilliant explosion
that would rock this rock like

a great song
performing on its uppermost

stage, all of my being
expanding like a flower

until the whole universe
opens wide

like a Great Eyeball.
Our role will be to find

inexpressible
connection– a ring

of stars passing rings
of fire, each a small

cluster of blue petals.

(originally published in The Subnivean, Winter 2021)

Fake Pollack

Acrylic in my head paints on canvas a monstrosity
the glut of guitars plucked and discordant my ganglia
a jumbled mess of math wrong equating crystals and string

circus a battle with the world its perspective a plane upside-
down on the runway screaming into sky oh I love who I love
and that’s the mallet rolling down the xylophone until the rot

an explosion at the end with upright bass scaling up
intensity while the sine waves crash against the shore
to counter the tide tolling against the whistling sand

 

(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Winter 2020)

Bowie

Dog through the window– charcoal snow
and peanut-speckle brushstrokes– I watch you
served by our server on the patio under

Azorean’s white umbrella. If only I could be
of service to a creature so brown-eyed and sacred.
I want to be good, too, and melt the heart of people

I encounter. But I am out of it– I still feel new here
and spend my workweeks isolated and curious
for the world I miss around me, its strangers

a wild pack wandering the streets, searching
for any scent that spells joy. How mine smells of cinnamon
blocked by endless windows overlooking a sea of blue

recycling trucks inside a sharp metal fence, and– even now–
I peer through glass, smelting, as our server rubs your head,
as passers-by smile as they go wherever they must go.

I want to be unleashed, too– to put both knees on
concrete, pet the fur between your ears, and
inhale, together, Saturday’s shared freedom.

 

(originally published in Hello America, Fall 2019)