i carry infection in saliva
like a point of pride
see, my city reeks of bone
tall skeleton skyscrapers
i’m numb again
as dental drill enters me
year after year
what birthed my decays?
raised to desire new
wants every day
wanting even wanting
my dad worked at a ford factory
after the great depression
churned out a new kid
every few years
seasons of rust
spreading on steel
here’s the sunset
he’d wake us to say &
spend the days molding
rough hands on saw
that was satisfactory
for me oaks are cold towers &
grass not godmade
took a clump in my mouth
from the graveyard as a child &
i swear i tasted
but could not digest it
i’m but a skeleton
all life’s experiences
slip through me
the future with mom and dad
scooping fries at ponderosa &
we’d always go for seconds &
mint ice cream after
(originally published in Burningword Literary Journal, Fall 2018)
He drowned the world–
a wonder, not a caution signal.
Back then, it was possible
for a dog to become a horse,
for food never to become weight,
for sunsets to reward long days
of biking in circles around
the yard’s dead walnut tree.
(originally published in The Wayward Sword, Summer 2018)
soaring over beach over mountain over cloud
that’s a long reach but when you moved down
the street past the café I thought this was fate
the way we kept in contact for years and after
four years you agreed to a date and we drank
and ate at Bodega where we talked for three
hours about your new nursing career and you
told me how you breathe air into patients and
care for them night-shift but you still want to
write fiction and memoirs but with memories
still ahead not experienced fast forward three
years I’m driving Uber and pick you up randomly
you’re with your lover you tell me you’re sick
of your sick patients you’ve run out of patience
and furthermore you were miserable in the era
we hung out backtracking not because of me
but because you never left home now I have a
lover you’re excited to attend my book release
(originally published in The Virginia Normal, 2018)
college, I learned
how to survive
with the GPA of
(originally published in SOFT CARTEL, 2018)
waiting hoping growing
(originally published in Peeking Cat Poetry, Winter 2018)
I can tell you how many points LeBron scored last night
or who won the World Series,
but I can’t fix the leaking faucet in the bathroom,
won’t mow the lawn if not overgrown.
I don’t change the oil in my Ford
nor bring home a solid paycheck–
but I will live in an apartment
to avoid responsibility.
I’ll pay lots of money to tell
a landlord I can’t do it.
I’ve already lived in a car to avoid the responsibility
of telling a landlord I can’t do it.
I didn’t know how to fix it when it broke down,
and a Samaritan changed my flat tire when I burst it
when turning into a potholed Burger King lot
and I claimed I was about to fix it.
He told me not to pay more than twenty-five dollars for a used tire–
no more than twenty-five dollars, and get the rim hammered out
I went to the tire shop and paid their thirty-five to avoid conflict.
Wordlessly they stopped eastbound traffic on Pico
and I backed away and left.
One thing I can do well is parallel park,
as if reverse-navigation is worth bragging about
but I’ll take it.
No one has the courage to fit inside this small space.
No one can fit inside here but me
(originally published in Literary Yard, Winter 2018)
I cracked my phone screen
on my first date without you.
I carried it in my back pocket, like always,
though maybe I postured myself differently,
finally sitting up straight enough
to carry my own weight.
I didn’t look at my phone
until after the date. By then,
I could no longer remember you
without the shattered glass–
the flawless screen was not made
from our blazing beach days
of black seaweed and slithering kites
that begged the wind to let go,
where footsteps parted sand
to lead the tide into ourselves,
to let the moon drag our bodies
into the ocean’s boundless mirrors
where, enveloped in reflections,
we could only gasp for air.
(originally published in Metonym, Fall 2017)
We lounge by the pool
& sink before entering.
Its blue averts new colors.
It’s simple: I don’t know how to love
lungs flooding with chlorine.
I never want to dive into the deep
& forget how to breathe
but I followed & found to love
is to leave your fins on land–
but silent in the deep, lungs
rationing air, I want us never to open
our eyes underwater to find
the pool colorless– that we
will always see the blue
the water does not have.
(originally published in GNU Journal, Winter 2017)
there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not
such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs
but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas
muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night
we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows
the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers
down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes
every piece celestas
on wet reed floor
the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something
(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)
(originally published in November Bees, Summer 2016)