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)

Bloody Mary

The legend, according to my sister, goes
you lock yourself in the bathroom, turn off
the lights, say Bloody Mary, spin three times,

then voila! She appears, bloodied,
hands on her face screaming
à la Edvard Munch painting.

I obviously don’t believe in this but
do you have the courage to try?

Catholic school vacuumed religion right
out of me, but I blanket my head in bed
when I can’t explain a house’s creaking.

Believe me– if I believed
that I believed, this wouldn’t be
so scary. I’d ask God to help me.

Say I try this now.

Would a vision make me a believer?
Me, an adult in a bathroom,
chanting a name into the dark.

When my eyes finally opened,
I’d pray to anything– the bathtub,
the toilet, the sink, the sliver of

light beneath the door.

 

(originally published in We Are a Website, Spring 2018)

God Poem

I believe in you

with your hand
in my hand,

which forgives
who I am,

who I have been–
every sin absolved,

we clasp
in silent prayer

and respond,
really respond

to our prayers.

With your hand
in my hand

this land
is my land,

indivisible
under sheets

and gone
in the morning.

 

(originally published in SOFT CARTEL, 2018)

Every Movement of the Sun

I seek a way to meet heaven without living it
in my excess the money and green, the love and sex

the sexes intertwined like vines and twigs
and doesn’t faith have nice legs? the priest

would ask from afar in this tall wooden structure with
our congregation crooning a Godsong that couldn’t

bring them any closer to God but wasn’t what
we wanted the whole time each other?

in that way I’m still religious

 

(originally published in KAIROS, Spring 2018)

 

Reviewing Geometry for the GRE: First Lesson

As if you could find exactly
the base of a triangle–
one long, unsure line.

I am looking for an exit
sign pointing, pointing, pointing.
Outside that red door

wilts confused leaves.
You say there’s a way
to quantify this? That

equations explain everything?
It’s 30 degrees today,
90 yesterday.

What’s autumn’s angle?
A 180-degree spin.
Math. I don’t trust it.

How Catholic school
assured me the trinity
would save me.

I’ll learn whatever
to warm myself.

 

(originally published in petrichor, Spring 2018)

Advertising

I have been inside
a marketing firm
with its own basketball court.
Uninspired employees huffed
then daggered meaningless
the hoop, hoping for renewal,
but no one kept score.
I could relate:
attending Catholic school,
I found it necessary
to ask for forgiveness
in the shower.
I had come to fear
a red-fanged Satan
sporting a porn ‘stache
waiting by the mirror,
covering himself with
a towel, fork in hand–
and me, behind childhood
curtains covered in soot,
water rushing, my body
seal-like from ablution.

(originally published in Sooth Swarm Journal, Summer 2018)

Stuck in an Elevator

Between floors I meet calm–

meditation when firefighters
arrive. Frank O’Hara might
be proud though there were

no red lights streaming in how
one can wedge one’s own ideology
in a wavering tower halfway to

clouds but the building shakes on
bad foundation though a soul is
structurally sound in one way

how it rises a few floors
a crease in the rope to stop
movement how could an elevator

even stop why wouldn’t it if I were one
I would rise only being this lonely
and quit too in the in-between of

sustaining love or faith forever
but interstitials demand warmth
around mind with winter jacket

how such claustrophobic space within
you can force yourself to blow
air into your fist then float away

 

(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)

 

Canton Central Catholic

My high school was ninety-nine percent white
classmates without filter said you’re a bit off-kilter
what are you I mean what are you I mean
all I am is me my whole life everything I know
half-Filipino half-West Virginian so you mean
like half-Asian half-hick I mean like basically
I don’t have the ear for Appalachia and must
be good at math and I said neither they said
solve this solve this these equations flicked
into my ear shoved into my eyes but my
coping mech was laughter
is there another term for that?

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)