House of Miracles

I don’t remember the phrase, spray-painted
on a house in Wilkinsburg, that caught you
on the way to work some May or June day–
it couldn’t have been Miracles do happen
too cliché. It was some unexpected inverse.
I remember you mentioned you liked to think
there was a man named Miracle in there
(this must be a clue) – the details elude
me. Reflecting, it seems miraculous to have
survived this haze of spring turned summer,
fall– memory’s the rain hovering over our fake
Centennial Park. I kept throwing sacks of dust
into the spot on the cornhole board that would
end the game, but as the game kept going,
the show kept steering to the opposite end of reality.

                                                 In my mind, this house–
                                                 wooden panels splinting, gray paint chipping–
                                                 was surrounded by overgrown grass
                                                 becoming harder and harder to see past.
                                                 You cut the grass, the grass grows faster!

This show was like that. Have you seen
the viral video of the tree just struck
by lightning? The inside’s raging red,
an orange flame self-contained, but
I like to think that tree was in Miracle’s
lawn, and he was zen in tending
to the heat and ever-growing grass.
But all the forces were conspiring–
twice the office toilet wouldn’t stop
running beyond reasonable control.
The first time was the first week, when
it flooded the floor and drowned
the executive offices. You sent me
to Busy Beaver to buy a monkey
wrench, but no matter how we turned,
the water seeped past carpet.

                                                 The second time was at the end. We had
                                                 all lived hell, survived it. The water was
                                                 relentless, but this time, when you went
                                                 in, there was a crowd outside the bathroom
                                                 door asking if it was over– the flood, the
                                                 show. This time, it was different. You fixed it.

 

(originally published in Home Planet News Online, Fall 2020)

Gummies

Stress-eating sour worms
while working from home.
A dumb numbness. Live
a weekend for a little
joy. A stressed syll-
able. A stretched neon
bleeding the pumps
from my heart, my long
and yellow heart, crusted
from swallowing earth’s
bitter notes back. I used
to take outside for granted.

(originally published in The Writing Disorder, Spring 2021)

To Rich (From Irie)

Bananas everywhere make me hungry.
The doormat, the neon sign, the sticker

on your Apple– I can’t help it. My
cuteness doesn’t preclude that I am part

wolf. A ruthless hunter. When I run
across the rug to your room I want you

to throw fruit on the floor just to bite off
the peels. I’ve had my eyes on inedible Ethel

the Christmas Chicken when I learned she’s
still a chicken. For once I want a sandwich.

Put me in your cart with a potato gun
at Sam’s and we’ll hold that whole

place up. As you ransack the banana stand,
I’ll loot the deli and meet you in the middle.

(originally published in Jokes Review, Summer 2020)

Trimming Trees

When my father retired, he could not end
the work– sunrise blurred to sunset
sculpting trees within the canvas of our yard.
Soon, he said, you will wear my work
on your hands. But after he passed, my hands
would tremble leaning ladder onto tree,
snipping branches off the living
limbs.

(originally published in U-Rights Magazine, Fall 2020)

My Employment History as Jenga Game

                         I see the opening
                                  can’t breathe
                                                 when placing down
                                        the block–
                                                                    one wrong move
                                     and I’m living in my car again.
                            Cheaper rent. The simpler things–
                                       brick house,
                                                   blue tuxedo–
                                             were romantic once
                            but my mouth is full of blood, teeth
                                                                       falling
                                                                                 out,
                                    my stomach yellow-splotched
                                                             (but not from sun).
                                 The rocks in my shoes,
                                                         holes in my
                                                                         wallet,
                                                   ripped nets my lovers fall
                                                                                     through
                                                       (rely on me?
                                                                           They know
                                                           I grind my teeth in sleep).
                                 How summery it was to think I could
                                        make the next job work, mountains
                                                                  of manila folders
                               perpetually stacking, tumbling–
                                                  the dim light’s exit blocked
                                                              from collapse.

(originally published in Stickman Review, Fall 2020)

Whip Your Flame Hair Against Me

and I am on fire too ready
to burn Panera down
no one really wants this hospital

food its chemicals inside
that make it breathe the bread
is moving if you watch

close enough its heartbeat
in your mouth we are all on
fire this former dead living

animal a baguette string inside
my intestines there are wings
in my salad flapping dead cells

floating and all I can do is be
the sun and burn the whole world
then flush my throat with water

(originally published in Madness Muse Press, Fall 2020)

Olentangy River Road

Without destination, I am powerless
behind a Civic’s bumper. The cars on 315–
straight shot viewable from my window–

travel without obstruction. In the Prius
beside me is a couple wrapped around
each other during meaningless red light.

The world is ending in these fumes and
still, I have been staring at this Wendy’s
sign, fantasizing about my lips on

a burger square, biting into processed
buns, cramming my mouth with fingers of
fries, then watching the sky turn jaundice.

(originally published in Corvus Review, Winter 2022)

Office (August)

is this how you spend your days? laundry
filthy as furniture.
                     the room cold between two
worlds. I am awash in
transition: upbringing /
                                       nirvana
give me a place to call home
I am stuck in the wedge
of
       wanting nothing
but your long arms around
the circumference of
my body. here is
the ticking clock
                  a timepiece
                                       countenance
allowing sea change
along the equator
                  indecision
east of my brain sees desire in
a sleeping blanket. I am trying
to wrap my mind around
the absence
                    of the life it
                                           leaves.

 

(originally published in Bindweed Magazine, Winter 2020)