Homesick (Dissociation)

Tulip tree in Alaska. Cold
and wild. Rembrandt blue

Christmas lights, shepherd
pie a warmth of familiar metal

stovetop. Doorstep. Gold
beneath nothing but rusted shovel

mnemonic arms repping
dumbbells. Must be strong

in clumps of conviction. The south
says the creator God’s a yes.

Freeform jazz. Bubbled
champagne. Festivals devoted

to home. Houston before me,
Texas a pink tie knotted.

 

 

(originally published in bluepepper, Winter 2018)

Before You Leave for Jacksonville

I awaken on a cold-coiled spring
day in which the car won’t stop
spitting fumes into mouths this steering
wheel won’t budge any way but forward
though we veer to the side past white center
line on highway under full moon to fill
our gas tanks with flowers found in eyes
fluttering in wind right when I say
I love you this time I mean it

 

(originally published in Epigraph Magazine, Winter 2018)

 

 

Scenery

My roommate takes me
for a walk, or she takes the dog
for a walk. It doesn’t matter.
It’s the second night

we’ve walked each other,
or the dog walked us,
sore throat, brainy fog,
and this time can’t even find

the moon, obscured by houses.
We look anyway, together,
comparing bloom to doubt,
how one is sure, the other

grows, and leaves
crunch beneath as the dog
stops our walking
to pee, to leave another

thing behind. On Sunday
I watched the Niagara dump millions
of gallons into itself, mist rising
into something, nothing. The moon

loomed huge over the bridge
to America towing sunset’s lavender
bed but you can watch a thing die
before your eyes, or not at all–

the way, driving back from Canada
in heavy traffic, I tapped you
on the shoulder on the sky bridge
and said, look, here’s something,

one thing beautiful left, look,
and took the world’s last magnificent,
proffered blue and there, as a passenger,
you refused.

 

(originally published in The Knicknackery, 2018)

Max’s Porch

we’re on a playground of mosquitos
finding poems about space and math
to read because his brother’s in town
and he’s an idealistic futurist
so they trade science poems
and smoke and dreams (a glass
of water the tides of Lake Erie)
I ask which Little Caesar’s location
is your favorite all time (five dollar
orange brown cardboard. gas
station lighters burning thumbs)
everyone answers the one in my hometown
and we’re 1997 sitting in a mildew basement
sketching cartoons in blue binders on greasy
carpets full of the future waiting for the future
and mallards in the pond sing all wing and trouble
hoping for something to disturb the water
so they can fly

 

(originally published in Pouch)

Night Train in Wait

We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?

Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting

for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you

and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–

with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.

 

(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)

Shapelessness

As I move further from you, whiskey in hand,
the thirst seems to pile like distance in the miles–

my shape roasted under Pacific sun.
Our sunglasses clinked with wine glasses.

The dry sponge. Run me under the sink.
Or run with me. You could be a ghost, too,

a phantom unfurling before me, haunting
each town I pass. Every morning, I am gone.

For a while, your blanket was warm. But chill the air
long enough and someone will notice. No one

likes the cold. Everyone prefers the summer river,
her water’s blue in the ice of winter, the clear

of July. I dig for you in the dirt. Then myself.
My shapelessness. My tendency to drift

so far away that I never fully return.

 

(originally published in Jazz Cigarette, Autumn 2016)

Gate C55

Waiting in the airport and the ceiling fluorescents
are arranged like a runway askance and I know
I am running from what cannot be salvaged:

a week ago we soared through the sky
with all parts intact and fully functional.
I didn’t need to look out deep, endless windows

of fields and plane-paved paths and houses and wonder
where I belonged, how an engine could so quickly find fault,
how its parts could rust in her thrust into eternity–

we will never have the biology to fly, no matter
our construction, no matter the fantasy of the air–
and the air is a fantasy you breathe easy and pure

but the higher you go the more lungs constrict the heart
and light breathing becomes impossible in the heavy beating
that feels like so much excess baggage it will encumber

the great invention and bring it tumbling to earth,
where we begin and always end–

where, in the vast expanse of land I have no choice but to
stay bound to, I stare up toward the full, cloudy sky
and watch the great, miraculous wings of blackbirds

descend slowly on telephone lines beyond reach
to know what I am made of will never be enough.

 

(originally published in Rust  + Moth, Autumn 2016)

Clinton, Ohio

Where I lived was a quiet crescendo
of snow six months of the year
& mosquito summers wearing shorts
into the sweating night

Where I lived had piano thunderstorm concertos
jolting the elderly house’s bones
with frenetic fingers, ivory paint,
red bricks

Where I lived was a lonesome walking trail
where morning chirps of blue jays went unnoticed.
Beds of acorns lined the autumn grass,
a kind of fallout for the process of aging
and the act of leaving

Always, now, in thought, it is a shoebox
of dandelions that writhe when I pet the cold cardboard–
hello, you are home, tonsils– my heart
can’t handle the hand-shaped imprints
from so far away

 

(originally published in Rubbertop Review – Volume VII, 2015)

American Prayer

Why did an apple tree
grow in my backyard?
That’s where the swimming
pool was supposed to go.

I ask not for much.

A well-placed tornado, maybe.
Another plague, perchance,
to rot its every root.

Then a demon, perhaps.
Lucifer the Lumberjack,
chainsaw in hand,
could tempt the tree
with Eve, eat its fruits,
then chop it down, though
trees don’t love women
like I do.

Look, I know it’s not practical.
Jesus didn’t wear a crown of thorns
from an apple tree
but I bear a malus cross
and don’t want to give money
to a heathen
who cuts down
a tree for me.
I could do that by myself,
if I really wanted to. I really
want to buy that pool.

I’m tired of the silence.
I know it’s easier for you
to use your superpowers
to turn the tree into a Bible
that smells like a chomped-in
red delicious. If you do that
I will sue you.

 

(originally published in Cake & Grapes – Vol. I, Issue II)