Autumn 2020 Poetry

Time Rot

It’s not really Thursday
unless it’s Thursday,
but 7 o’clock
comes ten minutes early.
And it seems like
bathtubs drain faster than they fill
when you’re waiting.

Rooms become dark
before the sun has its chance
to disappear into the plains,
And the grass doesn’t always sway,
it’s often pushed by the wind.

But then it’s Monday morning,
and I’m searching for $4 and change
for coffee,
Before I realize the months that’ve passed
since I called my cousins
or my grandma.

Dolly Parton plays
when I put her cassette
in the decade-old stereo,
Then my mom smiles
without showing her teeth.

Kitchen towels are thrown
onto the carpeted living room floor
after I spill my wine,
And she laughs about it
while I saunter drunkenly behind the couch.

The red apples on our kitchen table
will rot
before nights
like that
repeat themselves.
And soon,
dreadfully warm
will warm the floors
of the living room,
and it’ll be Saturday morning.
Autumn 2020 Poetry

Poem to a nonsoldier where I can’t see him

I love you.
You can keep this in your
mouth. I love you
In your wrists
Behind your eyes
I love you in your nerves
Your shin-bones.
It’s yours. And my feet are yours
Small, cold. My blood
yours. Teeth.
They bite a thousand little pearls
My kisses. I love you
In the dust of war. I love your
prostrate body, mouth pressed not
to a cross but my words, not to die
Not to die. You live with me, my parakeet,
my svelte bird, you live.
In the dust. I will say my words again
So they are clean. On your stomach
on the ground I love you. In the soldier
night I love you. At the front
men sit, male, alone,
you touch yourself because I love you.
Your throat because I love you there.
The days are moving. Come back
To my touch and the wind and the rain,
the pregnant clouds, to me.
Come back and leave your army
to watch over itself. Leave the front
When it is time, there is more 
to see yet I carry the silence 
of you there I love you.
You know. Next time you can ask
Your bones. Your bones.
Autumn 2020 Poetry

Slow, Smokeless

Abreast we lie, allay,
   Whilst you tenderly sip
Cold — asleep. I survey:
   Wisps arise from your lips
And they quiver, murmur
   Of dreams, your eyes flutter;
But O, my fair amour,
   Your cheeks — their colour!

A morning rose would not
   Glory jovial blush
As they do. Minute blots
   Of pale yellow, like lush
Lilius, freckle them;
   As would a painter
Nimbly texture a stem.
   Astute oil, only fainter.

No sharpness to touch,
   No bones to flay
And mal-form. Dunes of Kutch,
   Soft, white — a duvet
Blanketing, as the snow
   Outside veils the hill.
Winter supplies the glow
   That warms this mourning chill.

All too calm. I must be
   Aware that I cannot hold —
Basking in serenity —
   That of Midas’ Gold.
For now, the ice is outside
   So, leave us to bide
As two lovers embrace —
   Sensing their love erase.
Featured Poetry

Eagle 20’s

When we kiss, our nose rings turn inside out
and my glasses leave an imprint on both our faces.
You don’t ask questions when you find me on the porch,
my nose and my mascara running. You light a cigarette
and give me the first go. You don’t complain
when I run through half the pack by myself
(even though you’ll want one when you wake up).
At the bottom of the steps, a possum pads past us
and I can’t help but laugh. So, you laugh with me,
through the night, through every blow
we’ve had to take on our own:
the four times you broke your left arm; my long black hair,
cut off along with the abuse; your nose, crooked
by the hand of an old oil rigger, that still bleeds when you crack it.
It’s 6:44AM when I finally pull the covers to my chest.
The smell of smoke still strong on my fingers
and the birds already too loud.
I lie awake another thirty minutes,
even though I have class in four hours.
I walk to the gas station at the end of the street,
to buy you as many cartons of cigarettes as you could want,
my pajama pants tilted to one side by the weight of my wallet.
Autumn 2020 Poetry

Song of a Grieving Achilles

they’re rubbing Patroclus’ ashes in my wounds like salt
          the ropes around my wrists
the menthol in the back of my throat
          the black, bacteria-filled bits between the bricks
where does it stop, where does it END?

I’ve got you here, in the back of a black truck trapped
          trapped in your body, trapped in your eyes, heart open, eyeballs ajar
they pulled off insect wings and kept them in jars
          this one labeled wars, this one closed borders, this one prison system

I said with eyes bright who are the women on the street
          they drove a black limousine 
          they wanked on the pavement
Rousseau drove his car backward booty out mooning
          all the girls in long ballgowns coming out of the opera 
                    and laughing

they put my hands against one of the boards — do you remember?
          from the doctor’s office when we were kids
          put your hands against it it senses warmth
          makes a big green handprint — do you remember?
waiting for your dad to get out of the psychiatrist’s office
          waiting waiting trying not to hear anything
          making art that fades away in another couple seconds
          but that’s what’s incredible — it’s there — and then — it’s not

I put my arms around her shoulder and rolled a cigarette
          and burned her thigh in little circles
                    I remember watching them get infected
                    and putting fly wings in them
                              and then the skin healed
                    the wounds and then she had fly-skin

and now I broke all their jars and they’re cutting me with the shards
          they’re tinged in yellow insect blood and bright red mosquito blots
and they push my hands over and over again down on spiders
          so I feel the awful crunch
                    of the life leaving their bodies
                    sickening and vomiting everything I didn’t eat
                              vomiting up my stomach lining and my organs one by one
until I’m a sack of skin clinging to bones and they use the bones
          to carve out the bacteria-ridden blackness between the bricks
and I see you and your cigarette and your bow and your laugh
and I weep for you, Patroclus.
Autumn 2020 Poetry

looking in the mirror at vaden health center

a postage stamp-story 
on a book of empty envelopes
with no addresses

to return from quixotic adventures 
in the wandering eclipses 
of imagination 

to feel in one hand strength to become 
light passing through a carbon prism, 
fundamental frequency 

of the universe. in the other: 
requiem filed without order. 
climb into a bottle, drift 

into a house on a street 
with no number
reduced to dust — no, ash

let go once, you never come back
Autumn 2020 Poetry

summer sink

The faucet water runs hot,
And in tandem with summer
Refracted through an opened window, 
The heat plants glistening beads upon my forehead. 

I wipe still-dripping hands onto neatly-ironed pants
(kitchen rag is still in the hamper), 
But realize I have neglected a plate, blue bone china, 
And plunge my hands back into the browning sink. 

Chipped kaolin ridge with gilded koi slices my ring finger
Clean, muted red wine blood with soapy water, 
Tugs at the nerve ending, as body forges its own
Riot against the heat. 

I wipe again — the severed skin folds over 
Itself, milky and slender, 
Its curvature a rebellion, but easily stifled 
With a pair of culinary scissors. 

There are pains that are simpler
Once the excruciating bite is borne, 
In the name of extended relief. 
Many pains of the body are this way. 

I suck like a leech until the blood slows, 
Wipe a third time, searing against my linen thigh, 
Mummify the wound, cauterizing atmosphere
Licking it sealed. It is summer

So the alley fills, too. Out the window, 
Children blow bubbles out of topsy tails
Like the ones my mother used, tying my hair into knots, 
That would stay, tight, for the week she was gone. 

A toddler carries a speckled leaf to their mother, 
She tucks it behind her ear;
She has learned well to tuck 
The most beautiful things away. 

I tug at the wiry curl behind my ear, 
And a strand catches in the wound:  
It bleeds hot. 
Autumn 2020 Poetry

A Handful of Your Hair

Mamma told me the maps in the creases of my palms have lots of rivers because my hands are always clammy

I am having a hard time talking to you

Every time I see your freckles
I want to play connect the dots

Geometry bites the iris of my eye
I see in forms instead of figures

Painting in pebbles 
instead of sand

a graffitied brain

Have you ever dropped a clay potted plant? 

You know
the earthy orange brown ones
maybe it’s ceramic not clay

You can’t pick it up in one handful
in one fell swoop of five fingers and one palm

          You must begin by eliminating your palm

          Switch to just five fingers

          Then a thumb and a forefinger

          And last the stickiness of your palm
Mamma’s rivers

And still there will be pieces left on the floor
A human body cannot be a vacuum

My eyes cannot be a hand
a palmless hand
two fingers
and sticky skin all at once

A moving mosaic
your mouth is filled with pebbles
the way a child counts the number of grapes that fit inside theirs

Or maybe marshmallows

I’m combing just the bottom half of a handful of your hair
and following a roadmap with my fingertip
topography too

and its terracotta 
Autumn 2020 Poetry


In the new place you will be once you
leave: It is good. I am on the edges of this
new country, my eyes dislocated, un
able to see where you are from among the
weeds. You are on the other end of a cor
ridor of wires, so I don’t know what you’re
touching, I don’t know what you love.
I trailed you to the ends of this rivera
but stayed hidden in the shallow underbrush.
You will never think to look in the water,
because you came here to leave me. I am blinking
furiously to catch the slightest glimpse in the mud.
It is cruel that you have crossed the river. I have not even
the seeds of water-flowers, not a reed to keep me company
now that you are gone.
Poetry Summer 2020


the views are 
better when you sit 
facing the direction of

the train passing 
through one delicious field 
of trees thick as marmalade 

after another spread over 
sweet and sorrow 
but October’s fossil  

infects forgotten fields
untamed or made 
orange by sunflower blood

and because you shoot
through the countryside 
forward-facing with the train

one stretch 
of track after another 

it’s too late 
to brave your head
backwards and

weep over
Redwood’s whisper 
you instead devour 

the majestic verdure 
that sprawls barmecidal:
ahead of you 

lies not a past 
coughing present 
but the future