Memory

Inconsequential some things I remember–
each World Series winner
of the past forty years or, say,
brushing my teeth last month, blood
in my spit, then finding the measured
infinity of my eyes in the mirror.

I forget most things about my father
most days.

Sure. I remember
the gray-red beard,
his crooked back, faded jeans.
The freshwater scent of Polo Blue.
And those brown, gentle eyes–
but his voice?

Mixture of sediment and tire
smoke rising from gravel,
a ‘55 Ford Thunderbird fading from view.

I started journaling to remember better
but now write poems under dim lamp on my desk.

(Years later, you know which
one. Gold, curvable neck. A thrift store.
But you’re still no good
with the finer details.)

A waterfall of my father. Illusions
of life doodle-sketched
in some spacey lobe of my mind.

I wonder: do I give myself enough
credit? What’s worth remembering?

I am inside a coffee shop, writing,
surrounded by people I won’t recall.
I look for a subject. A gray, old man sits
on the patio with book and beagle
yet never goes inside to buy anything.

I pay for him. I pay him
in remembering.

 

(originally published in Wizards in Space, 2018)

Lunch with an Old Friend

wish I still knew how to talk about games
movies television sports

blue fish waddling onto soil of questions trudges
leaves bodyprints wet move

closer to some common thread we may yet find
yet know a fishing line in the reel of your hand

mouth brain our friendship was incorrigible
as the moon in a poem in a lit mag

super nintendo and the cement unfinished
scent of basements carpeted staircases doritos

always going down down down
affection every thump downward

like the rest of life tumbling
through deserts of thought mist sandstorm

the sun wrangles some truth out of stranded
windows translucent sunlight

shifting across the wooden table
of distance time summers

 

(originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Summer 2018)

Coma

Bleeding nose.
Crooked smile.

I will run you under water.

Your carved, concrete face.

Clothes you did not wear: tulip.

Leave your red suitcase on the floor.
The fanny pack, too.

Soft whistles: ghostly silk of burnt ember.

I am the only one you never needed.

Saliva on your bottom lip.

A hole.
A pillow.

We sat warm on elongated bus rides.

Followed barren trees along the highway to places we won’t.

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Dogsleep

my eyes been tired recently can’t sleep
though I seen how you wept fatigued
on the bathroom floor wet tile &
we went to your bed the dog followed
& pressed paw against belly then
sighed & snored in a rhythmic breathing
we tried to do the same

 

(originally published in The Virginia Normal, 2018)

Death, 2009 (College)

Flowers & God–
you tell me, slipshod,
there’s an afterlife
in the party we’re cheersing
to tonight our whole life
with small glasses of Granddad’s,
noisemakers, & drinking
games. I’d like to drown
the tissues
in something, listen to Gaelic
music like Dad used to
driving us from school with Pizza Hut
wafting from the trunk those
sunny afternoons. & now that you’ve
lost someone you’re willing to lose
your Bill Hicks-views-sense-
of-self-meaning like we all
funnel ethereal spirit into sky
& swig the rain with
drunken angels I know
you know you’re better than that.
I know you know once
the last attendee’s passed out
on the couch heavy breathing
lips purple you’d check
on him, too. You’d be alone
in the house you grew up in
with phone in your hand
calm and through the static of 911
racing to get the address out
the foaming of your mouth
and when a cop comes you
beg please don’t break this party up
and deny the red flashing lights
come

 

(originally published in 8 Poems, Summer 2018)

To Paige (From Jack), 2017

i bark at da ups guy not cuz i guess hes here to mess things up
but cuz hes here every day when ur not    im wonderin y u go

away & y i cant come      i would go anywhere wid u
so y does anyone go anywhere when im content ta sit where da staircase

bends & watch for u     im afraid of knocks sometime somethin
bangin da door of what i name safe    i sense da whole worlds fearin

& i can smell bad from a mile away      deres so much of it i wag my stub
for makin it dis long .    still i hope ull always come back from snow , rain

& surgery so i bark ur name da best i know when u return    tho loud
& disruptive deres no different sound for love jus rattlin da home’s bones astray

wid my voice & wonder if some day itll all collapse sometime inta heaps of
forgotten timber & brick . id follow if u leave dat great clear barrier & return .

i spend my day lyin here thinkin of ways to tell u dat       to shout
like from a mountain through da valleys as loud i can da whole clatter

best i know how        like u do when u walk thru dat door
its da loudest thing :   u fill my ears wid bells    i can hear nothin beautiful else

(originally published in Delphinium, Summer 2018)

Editing Room

Evenings in the video lab laughing at ourselves acting in
perpetual circles the clicks of play and rewind in a dialogue
with eternity rectangular how to zoom into self with microscope
both of us learning but look at you now in the fighter jet
sky tethered to wirings of small precise instruments of war how
we live in the perpetual unknowing state of     I want you always
to come home even not to me because back then
every small moment was contained in its forever

 

(originally published in Street Light Press, Spring 2018)

January 28

I really want to drink today.

The sun is shining. It’s warmer than usual.

I should try to ween myself off, right? None of this cold
turkey shit.

I haven’t drank a drink this year, the miracle
of it. Today, I am alone.

I scrubbed white the kitchen tiles, but there are
always dirt stains, smudges when you look
a little harder.

Sanitized the kitchen table with towels,
swept its crumbs from the floor.

The cat sprints from one end of the room
to the other over
and over, imaginary laps.

What every day is, these days,
running a relay race, handing
the baton to tomorrow’s me
with the trust I won’t– today,

it’s a sleep’s worth heavier than yesterday.

Long minutes the placemarks I pass

I can’t make time go faster. It is my day
off work, and in its nothingness I trudge
through sludge. Old habit,

you don’t die hard because
you’re not dying. You’re
as alive as me: refreshed yet craving,

gazing through the window to the light-
stained street, the shadows cast from trees
out toward the river.

 

(originally published in Stickman Review, Spring 2018)

July

summer mugs me every time
muggy breath and hug of sweat
so hug me hold me let me know
I’m not a cloud who will sink
into a vapor or wave hissing mist

an atmosphere of melancholy hot
days that teleports me to L.A.
stargazing fame because anyone
who meant anything existed far
away celebrities or friends who

wait when you come home to drink
torpedoes in the square then explode
with laughter when telling them how
you lived everyday in a pile of socks
and neverending sunshine

 

(originally published in Abstract Magazine, Spring 2018)