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