Profile Pictures

It was easy
in college
for every profile pic
to be a drunk photo
smiling. Beer cans
in hands in a bar,
at the beach,
in a house, in
a car. We were
all young and
happy
thinking us
adults. Legally,
sure, yes.
We were.
But the me
in those photos
wasn’t thinking
about bills
the endless
stack of debt
I still cannot
afford.
Of which
I was
in those moments
accumulating.
Like snow clouds
beckoning
over Lake Erie
I hoped would
cancel class
so I could drink.

 

(originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Fall 2018)

Stray

The way the cat looked at me
                       after his treat–

         the difference was ours has a home.

And God I am so ashamed.

                          They are the same

but I was on our unfamiliar
       porch
             swinging

a bag of sustenance

           like unlimited pleasure

                you needed

                      for survival

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2018)

Checking the Mail

it’s a series of bills all this money money money
allegedly turning void in wallet into all this good
shield or beating heart or net but I’m getting your
gray hairs you pick in the mirror how they seem
to crawl from the bathroom floor & appear as the
plague on my head O corporation & government
gavel held to my sensitive nodes I sniff envelopes
which smell of corpses that may all be my own

 

(originally published in EgoPHobia, Winter 2018)

Let’s Make a Deal

At a McDonald’s in Ohio the TV
plays Let’s Make a Deal & two
old white men are enraptured mouths
open in awe of the studio energy
around Wayne Brady & I
know he’s happy but the audience
is fake I was paid to be
fake in L.A. forty dollars cash is all
it takes for one to clap clap
mid-clap three hours palms
burn & lucky luck even those
who somehow chosen sneak
onto stage know they did
not bring the green glittering
top hat they’re told to wear & now
their hair holds dead rabbits
the producers keep killing
& we’re laughing it’s funny
they tell us & when I was on
the show they asked me to whoop
my gutted-fish stomach out
& of course I yelled the wrong
numbers in the game & brand-
new sedans were revealed
as what I could have had
had I said six instead of
seven & then collected my
forty in line alongside everyone
returning loopy props to
props I know my mom is proud she
shows me & my colorful howling
crowd to happy rooms years
after the date I’m biting into
McNuggets with gold teeth
& cavities

 

(originally published in New Pop Lit, Spring 2018)

Broke in L.A.

The only deals I actually found in Vons
were in clearance. Beers half-off per bottle.
They’ll be ready in a box in my too-orange,
too-granite Public Storage space when I am.

Bearded teens saunter by in lumberjack caps.
I will wait for more significant events in my life
to drink the harp whose tones keep me moving.

Think about teeth– among the homeless drifters
I probably consume the most peanut M&M’S,
filling my days with processed rainbows and crunch.
How do you stop? I was at the 7th Street Metro, one a.m.,
no one there and the halls echoed in perpetuity.

Purple line for purple folk. I’m purple
from dehydration. Mixture of gravel and headspace.
Play me some ukulele. The strings react to the roar
of coming trains, twenty minutes late.

This is what I hear: my name is Grace.
I want to direct, and these are my roommates.
I realize even in the city’s darkest depths,
no one is alone, even after the dream fades.

 

(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)

At the Mar Vista Public Library

the ponytail blonde in the banana sweater & black leggings
floats in some fiction world she belongs in
then asks the librarian a question I cannot hear

she shrugs when she speaks
(reluctant windmill)

she figure-skates her slow, shelved glissando
(fantasia of the no-talking zone)

I am writing this poem when
she shoots past my table
with a green hardcover book–

I did not catch the title
or ask for her name
so I am left with
only my words:

anxieties
I find harder
& harder to
decipher
every
day

 

(originally published in Viewfinder Literary Magazine, Summer 2016)