Late-Stage Capitalism

Worth inextricably tied to the throttle
I am unable to press forever and
ever, amen, where to lie
down and get some rest? Hallelujah,
livin’ by the bottle without drinking
anything alcoholic, not tonight
at least, not before the long drive
to work, paved highways, praise,
hell on the range is to pay
all your bills at once
and wait a month.

(originally published in Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Summer 2022)

Bowie

Dog through the window– charcoal snow
and peanut-speckle brushstrokes– I watch you
served by our server on the patio under

Azorean’s white umbrella. If only I could be
of service to a creature so brown-eyed and sacred.
I want to be good, too, and melt the heart of people

I encounter. But I am out of it– I still feel new here
and spend my workweeks isolated and curious
for the world I miss around me, its strangers

a wild pack wandering the streets, searching
for any scent that spells joy. How mine smells of cinnamon
blocked by endless windows overlooking a sea of blue

recycling trucks inside a sharp metal fence, and– even now–
I peer through glass, smelting, as our server rubs your head,
as passers-by smile as they go wherever they must go.

I want to be unleashed, too– to put both knees on
concrete, pet the fur between your ears, and
inhale, together, Saturday’s shared freedom.

 

(originally published in Hello America, Fall 2019)

The Exterminator

Nicole walked out of Aladdin’s yesterday
which is why The Exterminator is working

12-8. He claims to have trained himself
to have a perfect, photographic memory.

He has Kool-Aid hair and anime eyes.
After the shift a group of us and

The Exterminator go to Brubaker’s
for drinks and we smoke in his car.

He is no different outside of work.
Constant buzzing, endless movement,

dead wings everywhere. He says
he learned his dancing from night

walks at 3 AM, and we all picture
his headphones in the darkness:

sudden hand movements, a quiet flying
his neighbors would never notice.

(originally published in Children, Churches, & Daddies, Fall 2021)

Diet Mountain Dew

my job? refill your addiction
slam it out
of storage into the office
refrigerator
                      the mountain stream
having peaked at an earlier age
you say it gives no kick
anymore this lack of sugar
necessary
                     these
tendencies materialized
into a lifestyle of cool
mixed with limited
not good enough
& such & such
aluminum this life
we recycle daily
in this waterfall
of unlimited pleasure
there must be an end
to any of this. at a certain
point there’s no more
zest there’s no
more

(originally published in Maudlin House, Winter 2019)

Terminated

Rip the last life-supporting limb off the tree;
no money grows here now, no more sustaining green

glinting the grass, just faces of dead men we never
knew presiding over lives with a capital C,

an initialism for one fewer line stampeding to the future
of individual prosperity. Sprint to the edge of the field;

walk the gravel road until you find another–
sharp rocks now splinter through your soles.

 

(originally published in The Fictional Cafe, Spring 2019)

The Gym

Planned to hit the gym after work
to flex these treadmills of atrophied muscles,
but decided to quit my job and drink instead–
first work-free morning’s sunlight’s sharpness
in my skull. From this decision, I have hurt
my liver once, my heart twice from lack
of exercise, ate Five Guys for lunch then
missed the gym again. If we are all not
getting our week’s workouts in running
from the shadow of time, embrace it.

(originally published in Phenomenal Literature, Spring 2019)

Square Cafe

pancakes we talk heavy locomotive engine
steam billows out this whale blowhole this
top of mind wisp say something anything
wrong always sugar sweet the stacks
I want to speak doesn’t connect you eat
a hole through final pancake as to
puncture the flour we had bloomed
over the last year and half eternity
we could lose in the vast distance
across the table cerulean walls
surround us in new distance
enclosed and suffocated open
air a quiet din to gorge last
bites by window sunlight
your blue marble eyes I
can’t meet halfway
mumbling

 

(originally published in 24hr Neon Mag, Winter 2019)

Aladdin’s

Funny, thinking back, the restaurant– hell,
the industry, those incessant phone calls
in the midst of rush, my snaking past
corners with three plates of hummus
and shawarma in aluminum, warm
from the kitchen, only to waste
in a stranger’s presence, scraps
on porcelain I’d bus, then zigzag
through the floorplan of tables.

Funny, thinking now, how little has
changed– insecure in economics,
I’ve jumped the lilypads of job
after job, the backbreaking work
of conforming, of each return home
with something new to say but I’ve
said it, I’ve said my best, my cap-
stone thesis shredded in California,
back when full of possibility–

I desire a bowl of time
loops. Cereal in my milk.

I didn’t even use silverware
in college, a joke inside a riddle
presented as a gift I constantly
unwrap, umbrellas of green
folding into myself in the rain,
suffocating, blinding, this pirouette
of place, this unfixable sedan
screaming off the shoulder
of the highway, smoke
signals ablaze and late
for work.

(originally published in Little Rose Magazine, Winter 2019)