the myth of being alive

I’m holed up in a motel following the night
buttoned down all the way to bloodied dawn
wrestling with  a fresh roll of USA Times.

Despite the police sirens across the street,
I remain asleep. Needle marks on my arm heal.
Coughs from the next room grow quiet.

The sun eats itself, footsteps outside the door
grow and fade, steam of cheap coffee and
popcorn sink into the semen-rotted carpet.

Some days I walk out of my skin. Red hollow
of an afternoon rivals my crimson eyes.
Empty pizza boxes cover my face.

Car clotted streets gasp for air. On dead ends,
I unfold a gang war. My hair turns gray in light,
my voice at the end of a muzzle, tries to sing.


First appeared in The Writing Disorder

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antibodies

The clouds come in, lower the ceiling of light, and we bump our heads. You flip a coin and decide it’s Taco Bell instead of McDonald. We drive around in your old Chevy pickup, buy food with quarters. You squeeze a hot sauce sachet around my ring finger while we talk about your childhood, shots and homework — the reality slipping away, temporarily held by words. We become a family as we grow quiet and brush our hands against each other. Looking at the bare pavement, we contemplate what would we draw if we had chalk. The light changes and it seems the air is blurred with dusk. When you pass the cigarette, I touch your skin a little longer: it’s familiar, the expecting skin of another teenager. Uncertain like me with goosebumps. The world is reduced to our breath and hollow rings of smoke, and the pinch in my soul is brief. Like I’ve had a vaccination. And love circulates in my blood slowly creating antibodies of doubt and fear as if they always exist together.

 


First published in Ink In Thirds

Beach House Poem

It is March and your head is a moon resting on my left breast. Our bed is a boat without oars. Outside the ocean licks the decimals. It’s the same word the waves keep washing. I have a list to go through as I bury your love. I know I cannot wait any more. Desire is only a contract and the manuals don’t explain the science behind it. Maybe it’s time to be less sarcastic and go out more. Or release cool salt. There are uneaten loaves of bread in the fridge and velvet ash between my legs. A financial gap in the sky. There are no roads to reach you, only cracks. The sun has compound eyes and the rain is always willing to fill the longing. I hide my face in a box until the mercury expands. It isn’t winter that makes me dry, it is the night, defaced without a moon cycle.

 

 


First appeared in Bitterzoet Magazine, 2016

In the years to come

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the winter grass, recalls
his life, a shrine of memories —
as a young rancher, he hunted coyotes,
slept on the snow-stroked mountains,
woke to the first spot of champagne light
and sighed, Another day of work!
Now, with the virgin spring, the acidic fall,
the loneliness of beer-swigged winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the tarred years, miles of breath
over raw land, his heart now halved,
God-bandaged, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with beaten man’s split skin, dirt rubbed,
time licking bones to nothing,
a heavy, unmarked stone resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
into the country club’s ashtray, recalls
his life, a thesis of memories —
as a young scientist, he studied particles,
slept in his chair, dreaming of fractions,
woke up to set a stopwatch
and sighed, Time always runs out!
Now, with the empirical spring and fall,
the uncertainty of quantum winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the esteemed years, miles of breath
trapped in the cold box of a lab, his heart a quark,
science-draped, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with golf-tanned skin, slick-white hair
time licking bones to anti matter,
a handsome plaque resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the trash in a dark alley, recalls
his life, an experiment of sorts —
as a skid row bum, he rarely made bail,
always failed to keep a promise,
woke long after the smog-smudged sun vanished,
and sighed, If only I was loved!
Now, with the conjugal spring and divorced fall,
the salt from empty-sky winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the adulterated years, miles of breath
spread over the edgeless space, his heart an angry fist,
cocaine-rubbed, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with a tissue thin skin, a stray bullet piercing him,
time licking bones to garbage, a coroner’s boot tapping,
a blood-washed rock resting on his head.


Published in Bitterzoet Magazine July’2016

empty bowls and plates

 

 

It’s past midnight when I finish cleaning the kitchen,
sink emptied of mustard water, dishwasher scrubbing and turning.
Free as a Bird plays on the radio while I mop the floor.
The night, broken like glass, its sharp edge up.
I remember this is how it all began. I said yes to the cleaning up,
no to the screw ups, yes to the heartaches, no to the love.

I loosen the strings of the apron and stretch my feet out on the patio,
light a joint. Then I go inside the dining room, stack the chairs,
throw the soiled napkins in the washer, keep the memories,
and snuff the candles. Singing to myself, I set the table again,
empty bowls and plates. I draw the curtain to
ex-boyfriends, love letters, drugs, recipes and silverware.

I say my name out loud.


Published in Common Ground Review, 2017