Salt

Originally published in The Birds We Piled Loosely #15

I’m worried about crumbling tastelessly
so I search for salt
to rub on my body

but all I see is a frail man’s
stolen tablets
dropping
from the medicine
cabinet

a salve
made from the spit
of a mother
for the squirm
between
my shoulders

one flask of fancy
the Celexa almost empty

No more heartachewort
or quietus extract

lemon juice
in the rubbing alcohol bottle.

I’m rationing my minutes and pawing
at this notion of continuous days
until they fall away

and I only do this after
the yolk of ego breaks
at the tips of our tongues
and drips down
our chins

which only happens before
I end our relationship
abruptly.

How desperate I am
to stop myself
from pacing
in the kitchen.

How desperate I am
to sauté serotonin
in garlic, cream
and tequila

little agonist
little poppy and lavender

and that’s only after
I create a hole
the size
of my skull
to pour it in

and I flambé the combination
and listen to it melt away
the fleshy greasy hopelessness
if only for a fleeting moment
until I can finally
look in the mirror

and see what kind of teeth
are behind
these fat lips

sigh
a sparkling result

possess
a warm face
an insipid glisten

a smile
better than ever

a deathless shine.

2 Monsters at Dinner

Originally published in Punch Drunk Press

We eat legs at a table for two under clouded light
and I almost think we make accidental eye contact
but I end up cemented in your thick winds

because everything else is cigarette smoke
and static heat under unpunctured overcast
except your horn-curled smile
and sharp bones

and even if I blow away the noise
I won’t get close, I’ll be inflated
with infinite lack, and I can’t believe
the mania folded within your laugh lines
your dress full of gust and tulip petals
and I can see it in natural motion
from across the table.

I’m stuck behind my eyes when I pour wine
through your famous lips and the server
breaks the animal between us
and we both widen, vulnerable
as loose blood
and as you drink I see
the vastness of your mouth
and maybe you

are not savory
but there is your hectic pepper hair
ready to swing away and it hurts
because I will never be able
to explain this over our separateness—
your absorbing storm, all the answers
ripped from bent limbs, blown
away and swallowed
whole.

But what if you become sweet
acetaminophen, a delicate medicine
I imagine as a relief, a reduction
a great dissipater of malaise
and when we finally finish
and match our pointed pupils
isn’t it like a bird
dancing with
a fly trap?

The Café Crowd

I’m at a cafe listening to some people in chairs having a passionately belligerent political debate involving many obscure economic facts that I can’t repeat because I don’t remember. One guy spoke angrily over the others about the reality of these facts, how there are too many idiots who don’t care about empirical data, which is pragmatically more important than belief or tradition, and his friend agreed, then he walked away confident and proud as if he just had great sex, and that the release of tension is the only thing that matters and makes everything okay and nobody’s all that afraid. He swaggered and smiled and said hi to a hyper little girl holding a dead bird and walked into the cafe to maybe use the restroom or something

then these two girls walk in and almost bump into another child. They’re tall and leggy and wearing giant heels and one is wearing these shorts that let her ass hang out. They sit down and the one with the ass starts talking business, about what sounds like PR stuff, and the other fills out paperwork, then the one with the ass starts telling the other to not let anyone touch her for any reason and to have a backup name in case her clients don’t believe her first one and that she has her number so she should call if she has any questions, and I realize that this is a job interview for a position as a stripper

and so this old man is pounding on the bathroom door, cranking the doorknob as if it’s stuck, and the person in there is probably a little scared. I think this girl sitting by the counter keeps flipping her hair so she can turn her head towards me to make eye contact, but I might be wrong and I couldn’t believe her smile which left me sinking, fading, vacant and I wish this kid standing too close to me would stop pouring packets of sugar in his mouth

and somehow I’m surrounded and alone at the same time and when I look forward to death I can’t tell if I’m energized or exhausted

How We Crack Each Other in the Late Dark

Originally published in Gravel, September 2016 Issue

I’m out of luck
and sitting
at a low-lit old wood bar
with a friend
trading absurdities
and growing oily

and blowing air out of our noses
until we’re purple-faced
and hard-pressed to breathe
and unable to see
over the stretched skin of our faces.

Our laughs
don’t pop like feeble bubbles.
They’re more like brass horns blaring
between our lips, more like misbehaving
alarms, the kind of derangement
that punches a rhythmic pulse,
the kind of strobing outcry
that chokes.

They fizzle in our heads
smear our teeth
stain our tongues
and we wipe them
from our mouths
with our wrists

and boil
like a soup made from chunks
of heart and continue
in a flare that inflates our bellies
and splits the air
with heat

so now I can’t sit still
because I’m losing focus
and these crows are clawing up our throats
and I can’t stop retching and
I’m finally

String & Rift

Originally published in The Hamilton Stone Review #35

You bet your pretty painted eyes
the smoke and light blended dusk
will rest it’s head on
your cream-colored shoulder
by the time this train horn
drains into white space.
The sky leaks and the wind
won’t stay in its corner.
This won’t be your
last disappointment.
This won’t be
the last time
the headless
night beckons
your naked legs.

So you come here
where they invented
the kind of dark that smells
of porcelain
and sulfur
or wet skin
where we can hold
our hideous nature
in glassy sparkle,
the perfect place
to attract.
Afraid our eyes together
could become hard
to touch, a tasteless mistake.
I am here and I am missing.
My kind of distance hangs
between two mirrors.
We can make our range
a two-way tether
that we grip
with our blue palms.

How To Stay Home at Night

Originally published in The Miscreant Magazine #11

1
Sometimes it is worth lying
face down on the floor for a moment
to get some perspective.

2
Examine the floor for bits
of food, lint and dead grass
and those hairs
that didn’t come
from you.

3
Turn on the television
and focus
on a static channel
until the light wets your eyes,
heat swells in your chest,
and a steady beat
is heard.

4
Clutter a coffee table until nothing
on it can be discerned, a half empty
ashtray, gum and pages, prescription
bottles, and coffee mugs
unifying into the mass
like bad news.

5
Move aside the empty chairs
In the kitchen and pace back and forth
for at least twenty minutes
for the exercise.

6
Fire up the stove, boil water until holy.
Add two teaspoons of crushed fly wing,
one mandrake root, poppy milk,
ginger, cumin seed,
whisper a lost lover’s name into it,
stir, drink
and let the vapors
permeate.

7
To be certain you have time,
make sure you have time to check
the time.

8
Trim the fullness deep in your closets,
under the bed, at the center of the chest
where a vacuous growth will form
as your living room
centerpiece.
Let it swell
before removal.

When You See Me, I’m Moon-Sized

Originally published in The Hamilton Stone Review #35

My left eyelid twitches
like a loose window shutter
in a stormy wind
or a sheet-winged fly
in spotlight.

Like all shadows, I grow
in the lunatic pumpkin’s
bathroom fluorescence
where it’s mirror aspect
catches my vision
and I’m stunned
by its buttery
thickness.

The moon reverberates
like a stricken gong
or the nervous look of a woman
and my spine could shatter
not from warm affection
but from its revolving
curves behind a robe
of clouds.

In times like this
I wish my mouth would
hang wide open but instead it
shrinks and hardens shut
and I get as full
as a one-lamp room.

And sometimes the lights
outside are nothing more
than holes chewed
into a shirt
by cats.

And this time I scratch
skin from my knuckles
harbor an inflamed heart
add a chemical to my color
attempt to respectably spill
and stumble towards
the wide automatic night.

Nerbiyos

Originally published in Permafrost #35.1

Someone lights a match
at the window, lets it burn
to the fingertips, sinks away
into the dark. It is 12:14 AM
and the front door is ajar.
The bulb hangs from a floor lamp
like the wet tongue of a dog.
The blue walls are a fuss.
They are ready to sing,
ready to flake with teeth.
Canned laughter drifts in
and out, drifts into living rooms,
licks the heat from meals,
sleeps in your hat.
Delusions sleep in the moments
between moments.
I am a hot swollen tongue
in this dark mouth
we often call a room,
moving here and there
and slapping against
the walls, confusing
and almost teenaged.
Too hot on the cushions,
in the kitchen, even
out on the street and
downtown where a bum
like me doesn’t even know
what to say to store clerks.
At times it seems I can’t
peel myself from this position,
can’t move the corners
of my mouth, so here I am
waiting in the middle of the room.
And what is it that is stuffed
under the couch? I pick at it
until there’s too much blood.

Ambedo

Originally published in Permafrost #35.1

I’m keeping the window open
while I watch

a fly I swatted
clean itself and rummage over

the fresh carcasses
of five other flies I killed

under a lamp.
I watch its senses drift off

in a bright envelope the way you
and I watch television,

its blue light offering comfort
from fear of the lonely future,

when you get up to turn off
the faucet and wonder

if the living room clock
is ticking louder than usual,

when your eyelids twitch
in the swarm of gnats

above the dishwater
and the sticky wine glasses,

if there’s any way to
fix the steady vexation,

any honest way
to hold back.

Dilation of Late

Originally published in Lingerpost #4

1
Dream out of focus
Fragment
Stark faculties

The sharp call
of crickets drifting
and riddling
the cold spaces
of my inner recesses.

In the swallowing night
dried leaves skitter
on the street leaving
footsteps in my ears:

Footsteps that fold
and collapse,
The implications of folds,
My mind folding over
like skin.

A fabric so thin
it must be
touched to exist.

2
Shadow-eyed, I

watch moths
beat themselves
to death
against
the streetlamps

listen to the rhythmic
knock of their bodies
against light.

Moths like desperate
knuckles knocking
on doors

the knock and flutter
of thoughts
and stuttering talk,
the limitless flickering
of their wings.

When they drop
my eyelashes
catch them.

3
There is nothing
but what is near to us.
If you don’t believe me,
go down the street
and drift around.

Eels of light slide
from dim streetlamps.

Like eels, my thoughts
radiate from my bulbous
head, bleed together
like a blend
of yellow episodes
or a bowl of soup
between two lovers.

My voice like an eel
with heavy teeth,
drifting through curls
of smoke.

I only have to close
my eyes
to possess myself.

Drink Your Coffee, But Drink It Slow.

Originally published in Prairie Margins 50th Anniversary Issue

It hurts to be here,
to stand by the window,
to see the clock,
watch the hour drip
and wait until it’s already late.

Night advances the way
wind pushes smoke.

I think the floor and ceiling
are sinking at the same speed.

The gloaming of the windows
from the inside makes me
think there isn’t enough to observe
and sometimes my eyes burn
at night when I stare
at the single dim glimmer.

Black air presents a streetlamp,
a grin with a gold tooth,
the darkest mouth
and an aggressive gesture
that bends a tree.

Night grin slides
along a warm street.

I step outside, reach
into the damp coffee space,
the center of the night,
take a firm grasp
of what is enclosed
and pull myself through.

60 Second Spots

1
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2
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3
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Rub it on your hands, behind your knees, and under your nose.
Inhale those calibrating vapors!
If you experience abandonment, you may be missing.
Let us wipe the tears from your cries.
Let us take the bones from your chickens.
Let us modify your hair, glorify your skin, emulsify your regrets.
One phone call will give you back what you once had.
Only a reasonable cost for affection.
Soon enough, you’ll be drinking large cokes like pop stars.
Spend time with your god, maybe share a Sweet Haze.
See more at the end of the rain.