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?

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.

Date Night

“Please don’t make a scene. Please don’t make a scene.”
-waitress at Easystreet Cafe

In the restaurant at the corner of the square, he takes a seat at a table for two, rose in one hand, ring box in the other. He holds them in front of him at chest level like ritualistic offerings and gazes out into the middle distance.

Wide-eyed, borderline dilated, he sits with a statuesque posture in a perfectly ironed napkin white shirt. Clean shave, crisp collar. Gelled hair, possibly plastered. No movement. Not a twitch, not a blink.

The stillness rings the serving staff’s ears.

Thirty nine minutes pass. Condensation builds on a worried glass of water. He’s sucked down half of it. One full hour. Beads of sweat bloom and coalesce on the glass of his forehead, an army of choking fish sliding into a shiny film. Hair product drips down to his cheekbones. Each glass bead reflects light from the lone lamp above and streaks downslope to the tip of his stoic nose as if the hot shine paws at his face. Two hours. The curled sweat soaked collar of his shirt. The heat of his chest, the cold of his toes and fingertips. Urge to pick at shirt cuffs, pick at ear lobes, scratch his neck, to wipe himself away with cheap thin napkins. So many sighs shake his Adam’s apple that his throat dries. The skin of his face drags down. Countless more minutes stare blankly into the middle distance.

Shrunken-pupiled, this man exhales stale air and slowly the rose hand drifts to his dry mouth. Soon enough, rose meets open mouth, teeth passionately gnashing at petals, ring box drops to the floor, waitresses gawking, whispering, and appalled as he stares into the middle distance.

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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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.