Exorcism

Truth is, I’ve lost my motivation to do anything but motivationally speak
to myself silently in my head & that’s why I’m meeting with Gray
at a cafe later to work on outlines for short films we’ll never shoot &
that’s ok because the sun has filled my cup of coffee with bad ideas
I won’t act upon & that’s the useless scroll I call the timeline of my
life– truth is, I recall the night last July we nearly killed ourselves
playing Ouija downing a bottle of Absinthe & even the wormwood
couldn’t compose phantasms in our minds though we tried–
knees rocking in dark candlelight, hands clasped in prayer, a cat
named Spirit haunting the hallowed grounds– we had the ghosts
if we wanted them. Now we want them out.

 

(originally published in Studio One, Spring 2019)

Two Guys, Two Gallons of Yuengling, Two Plastic Jugs, and a Third Arrives Later with a Six-Pack of Yuengling

I call it renewal
a friendship vow, any vow

though I’m just as lost
as last time, in the playground

climbing green dinosaurs
to shouts of no, don’t, you’ll hurt

yourself but we didn’t, taking
photos of the dirt by the river

from the top. Held our jugs
like the Stanley Cup to declare

our air and crawled back down
through time and space to lumber

outward through the neighborhood
to eternity which is one warm drink

we have in our hands. To accomplish
nothing is something special. I have

felt the lukewarm heat of tongue last
longer than this. I waited years for

something extraordinary to occur.
In my memory we last eternal.

In my memory we are whole, sober,
on the cusp of happiness.

 

(originally published in The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles, Summer 2019)

Silica

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
the yard
rough hands on saw

that was satisfactory
to him

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
death
but could not digest it

i’m but a skeleton

all life’s experiences
slip through me

masticating childhood
no pondering
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)

Memories of You Abuzz Alight Aflight a Kite

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)

Young

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
for free!

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)

Symbolism for a Millennial Breakup

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)

Pool-Blue

We lounge by the pool
& sink before entering.

Its blue averts new colors.
It’s simple: I don’t know how to love

without drowning,
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)