Southbound in February

  Almost swerved to Akron
      to delay our southbound silence
          before another car skidded into steel.
                 We smoked exhaust
            with sedans which scrunched
                    around us. Wiper squeals
            revealed hymnal landscapes
                through murky glass.
              I revel in footprints buried by snow
                                             yet do not know what–
                               if our black tires composed
                                     cadenzas in the slickening slush,
                           ambulance’s red, beating
                                    bongos thumping toward us
                                            –what we could have said
                                                   that would have ever been enough.

 

(originally published in The Slag Review, Winter 2017)

Sunshine Daydrinking

I need to break the association
this first day over forty in January
sun wicking everything orange
and melting snow     which had mountained
around Columbus     this past year’s been
climbing     an unending goal since I gave up
drinking       through a Lent that lasts forever

I stopped believing in God early on
and instead chose to believe in sacrifice
first my health     now my vice    the nights
when I lose myself in another religion
in rapid ascent up blackout mountain
waiting for the harness to snap

 

(originally published in Edison Literary Review, 2018)

Phone Conversation with My Sister on Christmas Day

The trees are dead, she said.
Peering outside, it was true:
A still-barren sixty degrees, sun
meekly reveling in its new warm.

A week ago, our mother cut down the tree
we picked apples from as children.
They were small, red, never delicious–
brown and burrowed with worms

because anything sweet from the skin
isn’t as sweet as you might think.
All those colorful lights we tied around
the necks of plastic and decoration,

the way we choked the holiday,
wrung out the last ounces of life
from the animal ornaments on every pine.
The walrus with the broken tusk.

The hyena whose laugh can nearly
be heard. As if anthropomorphizing could
ever atone for the past but I would love
to believe in a world where a fragment of

a tusk means something is truly missing–
perhaps rickety laughter ringing through
thin walls, dominant as the wooden organ
moans his mantra: everything in this world

is connected. Not every connected thing
is aware of its living, its connection.
But the way fingers dance deep
resonance out of the organ’s shifty teeth

to provide holiness for the changed house
is the gift we must open for ourselves
with our hands full of music– a sourness
in harmony, an ode to shriveled apples.

(originally published in Flatbush Review, Winter 2016)