Further, Further

I know the pang of distance / ghost of friendship cold air
conditioned inauthentic rumblings no more / passage into
the familiar / sea / a yellow boat rocks near the Atlantic
shore / I evade the sun / seek any shade to shield myself
of affection / affected by the moon / far apart again no /
                                                                   vacation for the heart

 

(originally published in The Blue Pages, Summer 2018)

Sticky Rice

I don’t remember what I said but it stuck
with me and we laughed and sometimes
we saw the future full of starfish clinging
onto timelines we never had because I left
corrupt with stinging jellies I ate of them
often the sea the seaweed the sticky floors
I understood what we were stepping on

 

(originally published in Bitterzoet Magazine, Summer 2018)

You Say the Songs I Like Are the Ones I Can’t Sing

I process major key as minor,
slink into couches to cry at any
gushy thing on television. Before
bed I write pages to process the
day in journals only I will read.
You say I’m genuine only when
drinking. Love is ambiguous yet
I try to process how to manage
a relationship while singing
lyrics wrong to songs I need
to learn to know you.

 

(originally published in Fourth & Sycamore, Summer 2018)

After-Work Binary

I know we need to decompress because
there’s a multitude of zeroes airplaning
from our mouths while a jet drones above
and my heart is 01001010010 you tell me
your dad had a heart attack at 30 I hear
murmuring between my valves throat
clenched I want to kiss you but the
world is on fire and I want to turn
you off and on and off and on again

 

(originally published in Picaroon Poetry, Winter 2019)

North Carolina Wedding

I don’t know anyone
but the gnats swarming
around me &

the stranger
next to me calls them
wedding bugs

marriage begins with wings
then seeks blood
sucking glimpse of sweat

on skin sugar all the single
guests swat at the air
around them familiar

the way we complain
of heat so beg
for rain to form in

these shrouds of clouds
to cool us down
it’s nice to have something

tangible to wish for

 

(originally published in Razor Literary Magazine, Spring 2018)

 

Straightening Hair

It’s true–
every instance
I want to jump your bones.
Skeleton dancing
alive with every
touch: hand on
collarbone, fingers
on wrist, lips
on steamed hair
and you tell me
I’m doing that thing
again, calling you pretty
when half your hair’s curly,
the other half straight and
I tell you I mean it
like when I watch you
in the mirror bring hot iron
to hair and I mean it
like when I kiss you
steam leaves our lips,
a collision of curves
into flat plane open
and infinite where
only we exist.

 

(originally published in The Sunlight Press, 2018)

Amy, 2014

I remember pink tongues of vodka became the Pacific
and we’d drown the breeze, water at our feet,
and keep lapping the glass bottle, lips on plastic cup,
swig after hazel-eyed swig, watching hang-gliders
soar inevitably to land, like us, at some black-and-
sand conclusion meaning one of us was wrong, one
of us always mouthing the wrong words into wind,
wisps of brown hair meandering to the air, ocean
blues fading peripherally into drink to swallow
the burning, your dimples creased up, unable
to look in your eyes to lie about love anymore.
This is what I remember of your face.

 

(originally published in Furtive Dalliance, Winter 2018)

False Alarm

Street sweeping
happens irregularly
around here. Every
three months then
you forget about it.
I’ve been off and on in love
with my roommate since the
day she moved in. November
rain, the red-bricked road,
I look out my window–
no cars on the side
of the street I parked on.
I scramble from my room,
her boyfriend in the hallway,
and I yell street cleaning!
His eyes bug up
and we race down
stairs to beat the tow
trucks but I open the door
to see cars parked around mine.
I tell him I’m going anyway
to check the signs
which I do in my blue
flip-flops, waddling out into
wet grass to find
next week’s the sweeping–
and don’t we always
wait yet another week
to cleanse ourselves of what
we fear we don’t need?
A bad job
or incompatible lover.
For months they have fought
about necessary changes
neither of them will make,
and just last week
she told me
the cycle of her life
goes in years by threes.
The job, the lover,
the house, the dust.
There’s a chill. I’m not wearing
a jacket, so I go back inside
and tell him it’s next week
but he’s known this for weeks.

 

(originally published in Columbia Journal Online, Winter 2018)