It is eighty-two degrees in Pittsburgh and my trunk
is crammed so your DQ cake sits in the passenger seat,
moves the same speed I do in my car in this orbit
in this galaxy. There is so much matter to keep cool
in the universe, but there’s sunshine through my wind-
shield and you– I know– thaw as a passenger beside
me. I’m doing what I can: aiming all the frigid vents
that way, holding a folder to shade you. I drive fifty-
five in a thirty-five to avoid my mind entertaining a
milky flood mixed with dust, dog hair, cookie crumbs,
and lust pooling where you are, your name in icing
illegible– it’s fine, for now. Don’t freak out. I am
floating over a bridge, the sun forever taunting,
and soon I know you’ll go, in one way or another,
into the mouth of a thankful person– whether me,
trying to save you from this heat, or you, radiant
as the sun, seeing celestial bodies who– for at
least this rotation– you know revolve around you.
(originally published in Dodging the Rain, Spring 2020)
everything springs to life
again your last
relationship your new
relationship these are strings
balloons with brains inside
of them and hearts
at the center of the brains
if we fly a little higher
there’s no going back
(originally published in Dragon Poet Review, Summer 2017)
The days when we would lay
on blue towels by the beach
combing through our Merriam-Webster
holding every fascinating word by the stems in our mouths,
our vibrancy was inseparable from gardens
full of hyacinths and rhododendron and zinnias
and, yes, forsythias, all these flowers in our hometowns
we never knew the names of
until we saw the words on sand-shorn pages,
said the names out loud, grasped endlessly
for petals in each other. No, we bloomed
laughter from our throats, planted seeds
into pits where absence grows in ensuing Aprils.
We never knew what words might appear
on Scrabble nights hunched over grids of possibility and–
strings of letters string surprising words together.
Marionettes, spider webs, violins, shoelaces,
your hair among the rules of nature, and nurture,
here nurturing the garden, here the home
where we tend other flowers– all my love,
I repeated. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia.
But those beach days were distant, the tide slurring
softly alongside my returns from long unexplainable workdays–
all my love, I repeated. For Cynthia.
Wooden tiles tornadoed to the floor, slapping
the carpet with words we had not invented yet–
there is no remedy for lost trust. The flame
already sleeps in the bed of the mouth.
Cynthia, Cynthia. I did not know a Cynthia–
but I had never been able to name a forsythia
in the wild. The next time I see one
will feel like cheating. Nothing too-known is magical–
there is wonder in inventing nomenclature,
that a word like forsythia can only be made
in moments like anesthesia, with darkness descending
like the cigarette clouds of a severe storm when, in the drift
into a new consciousness, a lilac floats your mind’s pond–
a lilac, maybe, though that’s not what you want,
and maybe, in the distance, you see the blossoming
yellow that accompanies spring, the air golden around it–
the beauty that’s grander than words.
You wish you never learned the name for it.
(originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Spring 2017)
because I repeatedly disregard that which is shaped like a diamond
to be a diamond,
I will flirt with the skateboard girl
who zooms away
& lament our love, lost
as yesterday’s blackened ganja.
living on the beach,
for a seagull’s Dorito–
we are crevices in the Santa Monica boardwalk.
we slip out from ourselves
yet know ourselves sunken
deep in the tar ocean
& yet, somewhere, still there
from many years of being the ones
who collect what others discard,
making space in our own diamond-shaped boxes
(originally published in Eunoia Review, February 2016)
Gruesome scarecrow bore into me, wicked carrot limbs, dried snowman. This farm is seeped with the blood of the farmers but the cows are all right. Have you seen a cow’s smile? It crumples the yellow Mississippi into a zagged horseshoe. Forever we’ll remember the first game we played. The hoof felt like hardened slabs of discount deli turkey, art deco. No one won. No one is winning. The larger the city, the truer this fact. You can almost feel the weight of a tower’s collapse in its shadow, bogged shirt. Hemp gravel lines. I see the kinetic potential of kindergarten, a kinder garden than which you cribbed your tomatoes in, so stabbed by the wanderlust deer. We dug those tiny crevices with conveyor shovels. Wickets, wickets, and did the terrain ever grow out of itself like the work of man– ah, did it ever.
(originally published in Ping Pong, October 2015)
When there’s nothing special about a sunset
lined with palms, there is nothing special.
Trees jut from behind roofs
like green skinny beanstalks extended forever.
Every plane a UFO.
Breathe the collective breaths of everyone.
Walks should be alone,
watching crows circle majestically
above stacks of garbage
bags in shopping carts.
Soon there are words:
first a sweeping hush,
a low hum.
Then the revving of neighbors
and their chatty sportscars.
The emissions enter the brain.
Then the atmosphere.
Whatever that is
is not what I am looking for.
(originally published in The Quotable – 2015)
Blackbirds suspended in triumvirate.
Clouds in a sea of burnt clay
mold into a blanket, the bed
unmade. Every beautiful sunset,
see the others on their phones
snap photos for strangers,
likers, digital lovers.
Lowball grandeur on a
It’s gone in a moment, anyway,
the pixelation of life,
Palm trees stand as windmills,
stilled, and they cannot fan
the vertical Culver sign,
risen like held smog.
Headlights on cars move
indistinguishably in time-lapse circles,
one after the other after the other.
(originally published in The Literary Commune – Issue #4, April 2015)