D.C.

Weird seeing how we’ve changed. In sticky
bars we were tornadoes swirling into drunk
arms. After a certain date we spake change

living in the new blotted heart of darkness.
The horizon blessed us but looked to fade
fast. I write poems & you write legislature.

Do better, you tell me, still, though it is
your will. You walk from the shore of the
bleeding Atlantic to break the binding quill

of former centuries. There is no place for
hate here
. Waves of black ink roiling in
for the storm. A comfort, this tornado.

(originally published in The Literary Nest, Spring 2019)

The Last Poem I Will Write in 2017

& the Louis Armstrong vinyl gravels What a Wonderful World
while my lover & I sing along in frogvoice & my roommate bakes
pecans in yellow pajamas & dances the Charleston once the track
changes & the mutt watches her & the black cat peers out above
a cardboard box’s walls like she’s protecting herself from death &
how little she knew about how close we all were & still are & what
we can do to further protect ourselves coat our shells in olive oil
salt sugar and rosemary / how the shell of the year could have tasted
like fatty nuts resembling healthy & how this is the last day we can bite
fully into the year & the record spins another new track & how innocent
each seems in the vinyl’s foggy trumpets & nostalgic drums spinning slowly
out our ears into the silence that overtakes the world

(originally published in Jenny, Fall 2018)

 

Humanity Is a Pre-Existing Condition

tell your father to pull out, tell your mother
to hide. there are children of your children

who exist in an illness of blood,
bone, skin, hair, and lung.

there is a barren landscape–
stone predated ocean,

before the earth was
sick with smoke, plastic.

bacteria teemed on this rock
like an unstoppable infection

that infected power
to make powerless those infected.

 

(originally published in 45 Poems: for the Revolution, 2019)

2017 Mantra

Build bridges, not walls,
though bridges ice faster
than roads we traveled–
hundreds of miles,
only to boomerang back
to before, while thousands of
armed windmills gasp for air–

the sunset through the bug-
stained window moves faster
than us toward a semblance of home–
swirls of clouds quivering
into the arms of weeping
willows simply
weeping–

 

(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)

Homesick (Dissociation)

Tulip tree in Alaska. Cold
and wild. Rembrandt blue

Christmas lights, shepherd
pie a warmth of familiar metal

stovetop. Doorstep. Gold
beneath nothing but rusted shovel

mnemonic arms repping
dumbbells. Must be strong

in clumps of conviction. The south
says the creator God’s a yes.

Freeform jazz. Bubbled
champagne. Festivals devoted

to home. Houston before me,
Texas a pink tie knotted.

 

 

(originally published in bluepepper, Winter 2018)

Complicit

I have been trying to cough up the bald eagle
lodged in my heart, but only feathers have landed
wet on this dirt. I love this country, but this is too white
for me to say. Too long have I been silent in privilege
while our nation’s darkest forces– white-winged
and fire-breathing– cast their manifest, the harming
kind of loudness. There is no one in my life who
admits agreement with white supremacy, but I also
know there must be– and if silence is complicity,
I must be no longer. So I cough out the beak, the flag,
the gun whose silent bullets I have already fired.
I am so sorry for the silence–
everyone I haven’t known I have hurt.

 

(originally published in Rise Up Review, Winter 2018)

Atmosphere

What you do say is prayer don’t burn and die
when passing through the atmosphere.

Yet, somehow, meteoroids do–
though sand-sized, they have bodies

like bullets, sometimes
copper, sometimes steel.

We’re talkin’ heaven’s ammo,
a hundred tons pounding Earth each day

unnoticed. Down here, you claim
able to speak with some cosmic, faraway force

you’ve never met while keeping closed your mouth.
You claim telepathy, so this telepathic ability

how your thoughts move healing this world
of the aftermath of bodies. Tell me:

how does God respond?
And you say God,

God protects the faithful.

So, God’s His own meteorites
cratering His house, hallelujah.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, Winter 2018)

On the Walk to the Polling Place

Some birds zigzag
below shrapnel clouds
and others, perched
on limbs, chatter
about migration
in this chill
because the leaves
in your yard
are a different shade
than your neighbor’s,
but each tree
casts its own
ballot into earth
and waits
for the season
to change.
Scrunching
all the dead
beneath your boots
along the way
to the church
with the cookies
and machines,
you pass big,
brick houses
with American flags
and jack-o-lanterns’
sunken smiles
on porch steps
and city workers
who have been
fixing power lines,
building structures,
patching roads
for so many months,
and so many months
to go.

 

(originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Fall 2017)