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)

Kimmy Granger

The green blanket over your head–
Kimmy Granger gets fucked
by a fake photographer
on your iPhone in my hand.
Meanwhile, you ride me, moaning–
it’s snowing– December’s waning
autumn days– awaiting a kind of fate
under flicked-off lights
in the gray of afternoon.
Before this, we reminisced about
the early days– laying in bed my hand
in your hair listening to music.
Then late July laying in grass saying
the ways we make each other happy.
Which is why I must rewind this clip
over and over to the part where Kimmy
is smiling and laughing before
the whole thing starts and
I pine for the blanket, your
green thread and lint.

 

(originally published in Ghost City Review, Winter 2018)

Ghost Pepper

The taco meat I seasoned
gets drier by the day. I add ghost
pepper though I do not do well
with high spice. I have no self-
control– four, five, six tacos
at a time– dry beef, cheddar,
heat– the ghost eventually
haunts, tongue in flames.
Last week I drank Long Islands
with a former lover and ended
in a park of hills at 2 A.M.
I lost my glasses in the grass,
but she called me baby one last
time. Everything was blurry, dark,
when I kissed her goodbye
in her apartment, slept in my bed
to the whir of the ceiling fan.
The next morning I called
my girlfriend, told her I loved her
but the words burnt my tongue.

 

(originally published in taxicab magazine, 2018)

Our Neighborhood Giant Eagle Is Closing

Everything is on sale. Where once was bread
now empty shelves and strangers scanning aisles

for the last shred of good. As it closes you say
you are a little sad, but it was never your favorite

grocery store. We have been fighting a lot lately–
from our favorite tv shows, to what type of dog

we might get, to which sugary cereals to pile
into our cart with all these cheap products

that don’t fit together: taco shells, toothpaste,
store-brand mac and cheese– would you believe

a month ago this place was stocked with everything
we need? We try to talk about marriage,

our deepwater eyes zooming through the dark
into a future where we guess what will become

of this building while seeking sustenance we know
other shoppers already bought the last of.

We need a sign to give us clearance to move on–
then the cashier, ringing each item slowly

as if savoring each would save his job, repeats
thirty percent off, thirty percent off, thirty percent off,

and a little more every day.

 

(originally published in Ohio Edit, 2018)

The Apple and the Moon

Newton knew the force of a desire
determined the severity of impact.
If you want an apple, the thought will travel
far to haunt you. Calculus was invented
to make sense of your absence. Such
is the memory of July: Beach House
in dim lighting, your bed beside the stairwell.
One could almost roll over and…
walking up those stairs the first time,
you were not there, but searching for your
cat outside, later found hiding in the ravine.
You wouldn’t let me stay, not yet.
I would carry silence into
waning days of weeks then feast
on all the words you spoon-fed me.
I failed to boomerang magic into our
silent field, unlike our first date: cheap
chicken on the patio of World of Beers,
talking what it would take to unlock
our true selves. You called Colin
to buy molly, though I’d never
rolled. Like everything else,
that plan flaked and you never
thought of me again.

 

(originally published in Man in the Street Magazine, Winter 2018)

Ant Gel

Fill the cracks so the ants can’t infest.
This is the poison applied for feeding:

urine-yellow icky glue sealing lips
to take home to another body. Sometimes

words stick where I open my mouth–
the crevice between us not letting you in.

I, too, have brought small gifts back
underground thinking them an olive

branch. Each attempt kills one way
or another. Malignant misinterpretations.

I return with this pellet of words.
This killing I never meant to witness.

 

(originally published in Abstract Magazine, Fall 2017)