Christopher, After the Explorer

We hover low over the river. His eyes are shining,
wildfire breath coming in gasps. Wildebeests
stampede through the tall grass below us and I pray
to God everything works itself out, one way or another.
His hands are rough like mine and my father’s
before us. He’s fast undoing the knots and then
a dead weight falls away. When I look back
down, all I see are ripples across the surface
of the dark water, the disappearing backs of crocodiles.

Read more "Christopher, After the Explorer"

Just Past the Dead End Road

danger danger flashing floodlights
laying bare my red hawk mind
extracting talons from the skin
of a mangled rabbit or dead horse what
does it matter you stay either way
to watch me tear at the flesh and not cry once no
you won’t see me weep this time no
you don’t own me anymore no
not in the boneyard not in the moonhouse
not in the field where i kill and oh do i
kill yes i do

Read more "Just Past the Dead End Road"

Homework

In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
somewhere,
playing family on her own.

When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.

Read more "Homework"

The Beard On My Face

She used to touch the beard on my face,
Whether nascent or full,
And stroke it with two fingers.
She would indulge in the bristles
As they bit tenderly into her chin
When we kissed and kissed
The way we used to
Kiss and kiss.
She loved when it was mostly brown and a little blonde and ginger
And loved it more when the white began to overtake the brown and blonde
And touch of ginger.
If I shaved because it’s not our world but theirs
And I must get along sometimes
She would be sad but understanding of that.

Read more "The Beard On My Face"

the still water that runs deep

somewhere on the coastline of my memory, two girls and a slick canoe
glide across a blue puddle, their opposite oars dipping in tandem.

one girl stands and stumbles like a wave overcome,
while the other sits and stares at their watery window.

beneath the girls, liquid glass and undersea sidewalk.
beyond them, a fish’s bones settled at the brink

of a sandbar’s black out. the girls are only canoeing because
the wave-like one is scared of fish, and feels their lips against her feet

Read more "the still water that runs deep"

i forget i fell asleep with you and can’t think of anything sweeter

you fall asleep with coffee breath, & the rain starts, hitting the sidewalk
as the dog whistles. the dog is whistling next to you & everything is
silent still. i imagine the noise of nothing sliding through the house. at
our world’s end, olive bread. so we ripped it off the loaf. our last meal
in the big house that no longer feels like ours. scattered we are,
segmented. yeasty fingers finding mouths & tasting only closeness.

Read more "i forget i fell asleep with you and can’t think of anything sweeter"

First Light

First light through the curtains
I find myself simultaneously
four billion years old
and newly made as bread dough.
Pillowcase wrinkles
on my face are spacetime,
my bed aloft on cosmic riptides.
From here I can see every particle
entangled with every other particle.
From here, reality is infinity
expressed in intricate calculations.

Read more "First Light"

Venice

the hardest thing

about this memory is
how it keeps coming back

to me, still

holding warmth like peach tea
left out in midday sun like
the midday sun that came

floating back

across the canal white rose petals

skitter-scattered

across the ruffled surface
released by hesitant hands and

coming home

shivering.

Read more "Venice"

Our Danny Petoskey

The anniversary of his death is the cruelest fishhook. Yanking us back, violently. When the days turn crisp, as they have now, when summer fades and autumn crawls into our tiny farming town—that’s when we most grieve our fallen classmate. One year we tried to ignore the date, but the hook came anyway and somehow was even more brutal. So now we meet it head on: we make a day of it. The downtown is strewn with somber-black ribbon. Coffee is shared and then, later, whiskey. We pass the yearbook, we muse, we moan. If a stranger such as you wanders by, the story is told in fullest detail.

Read more "Our Danny Petoskey"