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)

And Yet the Strings

Again, a rainbow sprouting from your violin–
no, it’s no light. You never wanted to mother.
Music was the way– adagios hanging from
the clouds. But God had something in store–

                                                                come on.

What happened was we were drinking herbal tea
and you told me of new pregnancy within these
silent walls of our favorite coffee shop and I said
I’m sorry, I’m sorry because I didn’t know what

else to. And you said it’s okay, it wasn’t you, just
I had to tell someone. Because you no longer
write symphonies. The instrument collects dust in
your closet– where’s the music? We ask. You

answer: inside, swelling. If there’s one thing
you must hear, she will be a cadenza.

 

(originally published in Chiron Review, Fall 2020)

Engagement

I am not crying   You are

Okay      I am

on the phone with you
out from hungover car
in Columbus Ohio

loud   enough
to traverse     sonic field
flats     green

and potholed concrete
across state line
to Indianapolis Indiana

I am not screaming     Okay

I am screaming     You
walk   a cell phone tower
tightrope listening    repeating

    It is okay to cry

Some things I cannot
deny    This hungover
day sags into night

GPS off     driving loops
around the block
memories the silver ring

around another’s finger

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, 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)