Dishwashing

I steep myself deeper
into the capitalist game

the rubber hoodoos
of the rack

complicity is my zippered mouth
and I walk with papercut

cardboard out through
a parking lot of gnats

I open heavy squealing doors
to place waste in a dumpster

floating on a non-potable puddle

 

(originally published in borrowed solace, Winter 2019)

60%

to stay alive I must believe I am water
inside my own body inside the river

my living an arrow shot into the forest
ghost slashed open by every stranger

who claims to walk on water when
nothing but air parting is the motion

of feet scrambling to become some
sacred proclamation it is not

 

(originally published in S/WORD, Fall 2018)

Grandma, Half-Underwater

Late in life she lived as a lagoon’s only human
among monsters she half-recognized. To visit
was a kind of drowning– submerged in nursing
home fluorescents of nursing half-breathing,
I asked Mom who am I talking to?
Her eyes asked the same.

I guess all of us,
none of us glad
we came, we had to,
wanted to, really,
despite grandma’s face
cloudwhite, going
there knowing her
soon to swim the
wispy ocean of
afterlife– that, at
least, we wanted
to believe, to see her
again the way she
would want to be seen,
not now like this

(originally published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Fall 2018)

In This Cafe You Thought You’d Find Solace from This World

through speakers 70s music bass
guitar heartbeat pulsating through
a weatherman chants forecasts out
of sync a microwave beeps the shrill
coffee machines trembling cash
register slamming baritone voice
barista says he has bad hearing you
said something before sandwich fan
spins no rhythm stringed spurt richochet
solos quiet everyone reading books
tablets not responding to chaos burnt
bagel wafting sorry sorry the window
rain begins drum drum drum drum
one two three four the faucet spits
on everyone walks in don’t you
want somebody to love?

 

(originally published in IthacaLit, Spring 2018)

Brushing

As I run hot faucet water
over the head of my electric toothbrush,
Jennifer asks isn’t it better
when we brush our teeth together?

This, of course, is redundant.

I have cleaned the spit
and foam from my brush alone
through the years,
watched clean water slowly spiral
down a clog.

I have taken better care
of myself.

Flossed the plaque
between memories,
tartar of bad habits,
freshened breath
in and out of you.

These I can withstand.

Thus I answer at all.

In a Mouth / In a Pool

there’s nothing but teeth
and sky and sharp wind shrieking
out until slapped / skin and sunbreak
risen water suspended after a cannonball
plunge / eyes closed we split
through chlorine like we’re chemically
bound / to renewal but how artificial
we fill ourselves with air and float / eyes
up at the clouds and a single plane
descends / toward LAX and we know
how it ends: a little shake / in the landing
and diminished speed recalling
the turbulence / that dove
from glass mansions

 

(originally published in After the Pause, Fall 2017)

To Davin (From Laurence)

to leave water would mean I suffocate
so I wait for orange pellets to fall almost
like rain you and I are alone most
of the time pooled in a little world
aimless from place to place
in a bowl peering through glass
to see what moves around us
swimming feels like drowning
when you come to me and I press
my face to glass trying hard to break
it to come meet you
when I flap my fins it means I am starving
not for food but to end these
lonely days punctuated by when
you surface through the waters of that
more colorful other universe like magic
my sky becomes kaleidoscopic orange
and I nearly believe I belong

 

(originally published in Perspectives Magazine, Spring 2017)

Mean Machine

The only good thing in this city
is my 1968 Coupe– long, slick, olive
green. Brakes, good. Tires–
fair. I may have worn the rubber too quickly
the way I sped through red lights after you said Jesus
would save me in these hard rains that summon
mud from yesterday, hell onto asphalt, and hiding
under the sheet you wouldn’t show me
your face anymore, said everything
turns to wine in time, but in this city there
are thousands of dry fish waiting for rain,
and you can be a kind of Jesus, you can
redeem your soul for bread.

 

(originally published by Eunoia Review, Fall 2016)