Bliss Domestica

In the afternoon, I chop chives
from the garden. You skewer chicken
for the grill. I shatter a whole bottle
of sixty dollar pinot on the hardwood floor
and you laugh.

At night we perch glasses
at the ends of our noses,
on the bed stand book tower,
night caps and bookmarks
and the love poems of Neruda
spread wide across my chest,
knocked to the ground
in the blue light of late night programming.

In the morning I grind coffee,
you butter toast, we make a baby
pushed up against the refrigerator door.
We shake a jar of pickles
and all the mustard bottles
loose from the shelves.

In nine months she is born,
chomps down on your finger
with her first wet white tooth.
Privately, we call her little monstruo.
She babbles nonsense
and yanks hair from the tail of the cat. Mi corazón,
you say, and clutch at your chest.

You strap our baby to your back.
I pack a diaper bag, fret over bottles,
flight arrangements. We land at the base
of the western Andes, our smiles radiant
at the weathered locals, as pequeno
bounces her puffy feet in the air,
her toes slathered in sunscreen
while our own blisters swell and burst
on the upward climb.

At dawn, you build a fire
for tea. We mix oatmeal
for breakfast. I change the baby
and we climb all day
until the sun begins to leak from the sky,

and when we agree
that the altitude is sufficient,

we lay back in the red clay,
our little monster curled up on your chest,
as high and near as we can get
to thanking the stars, my hands
reaching out towards the dark blue
dusk of deep space, paying silent homage
to the gods of bliss domestica.


(2014)

Modern Prometheus

I have invented my body,
the muscles, the sinews,
the sins within my tissues.

I construct each cell
each morning that I wake,
each amino acid
and bitten fingernail
placed just so.
A monumental task.

I hold my body in a trap,
it’s trapped, each cracked knuckle
like a billystick’s staccato tap
played along the steel bars
of my ribcage.

In triumph, I display it
for each stranger rushing by,
gesturing at each
carefully crafted gesture,
the bony ankle, the chewed
and bleeding lip.
What a beauty! I weep
with pride.

At night I set it free,
my engineering of will.
My body burns and pillages,
great heaps of fiery hair
heaved like molotov cocktails.
My skin ashes away.
       Even the blueprints burn.

In the morning,
I set to rebuilding

each swirl of a fingertip,
each thin and pointed bone,
my hands to start scratching out
the plans for a brand new me.


(Writer’s note: this was written in 2014 but still belongs in the ole portfolio)

list of things that you are not

I see an old woman
smiling down at her grandson
riding a tricycle. You are not
an old woman. You are not
a tricycle.
I snatch the needles from a sapling
underfoot – the smell sweet crunch
of tangy gin – you are not
a pine tree, nor are you

their sweet, sweet smell
on the pads
of my fingertips.

Do they have pine trees where you’re from? I know that they have gin.

You are not my non-GMO
OJ, or my GMO OJ,
my bacon with or without
nitrates. I don’t eat buttered toast,
but you are not that either,

not the butter,

not the toast.

You are not one, two, or three
pillows on the bed. You are not

a white pillowcase. You are not

a gray pillowcase
down stuffing. You are not

the little feathers flying
when I strip the bed for washing.

You are not the iron ore stain gathering
on the bottom of the white shower curtain.
You are not the blood
I have to give for you.

Rain on the runway:
not you.
All the strangers on the concourse:
not you.
What’s tucked away between the pages,
forgotten boarding passes
fluttering to the floor:
not you.

Ghazal for Chantix

I wake up late from a vivid dream in which you tell me once again
how you can’t stand to leave the house without first making your bed.

Gabija, spirit of fire, subsisted on sparse offerings of crusty bread and salt
as like an ashtray, evening mothers smothered all the red hot coals in their bed.

In film, lovers often share a cigarette directly after fucking, making love, or failing
that, smoke anyway; on screen the glowing ember never seems to scorch the bed.

There has been very little scientific research into how nicotine affects the sexual health
of women. Rattling scraps of tobacco in a pack, one loose cylinder left, alone in bed.

I tell myself once again that twitch of hand to flick the ash is purely instinct;
that this is not the first or last thing that I have quit and put to bed.

Ibuprofen

I saw you
looking preppy as fuck
down by the ore dock
last saturday night

like the cotton ball that rests
on top of a motrin bottle
that you finger past
with shaking hands

making eyes behind wayfarers
at some bitch backed up
against the brick wall
downwind of the dumpster

a cushion against
the rattle of reality
shaking loosely
at the bottom

your tan leather jacket
unzipped over white
cotton blend hanes,

bleached smile flashing
blessed relief
in 500 milligram doses.

I want to chew you up,
saturate you with saliva,
lodge you against
the rooftop of my mouth,
feel your fibers wedged
between my teeth,
and spit you out

right back in your
face.

(2015)

City People

Let’s do the things
the city people do,

sip dry martinis
and scuttle down the alleys
like cockroaches in heat,

let’s peel away the playbills
lacquered to the phone poles
like snakeskin, measuring our strips
against one another–

       look, this show’s tonight
       at Astoria on 23rd.

Pull me back from the platform
as the blue line pushes hot wind
like rotten leaves in our faces,

we’ll cozy up on rubbed raw dirty plastic
empty yellow seats, ride the L for hours,
keep catalogues of ads repeated humming all along
the tops and sides like elevator hymns–

       look, another plea to sponsor
       lonely homeless dogs thru SMS.

Let’s pull the ladder down
and clatter up the fire escape–

       you give me a boost–

let’s climb to push
past light pollution
to the roof, to glimpse
the stars, to slide our eyes
along the jagged edge
of building silhouettes
like tongues along a row
of molars, to point at tiny
city people, watching gutters,

rushing past us,
rushing under us,
rushing far away from us

to do the things
we city people
do.

Seney Stretch

I’ll meet you
in Shingleton,
little claptrap town,
to walk
the Seney stretch,

the longest stretch
of arrow straight asphalt
on this side
of the Mississippi.

We’ll hold hands
and memorize the order
of the frozen creeks
that we pass by,

imagine in which shallow stream
Hemingway once cast his reel,

icy dirt and snow piled high
like foam on root beer floats
along the highway’s border.

And in the sheen of sheets of ice
that cover concrete shoulders,
our feet will slap thin ragged cracks
that run like rivers to the ditch,
trace them with our toes and laugh:
any way but straight.

Our breath like clouds of diesel
floating cold and clear into the night
together as we chant them, singsong–
       Hickey, Star, Commencement Creek–

the gentle burst of air
when headlights cut the dark
won’t startle us,
as we can see ahead
for miles–and if we chance
a glance behind us, well,
we’ll see what’s
left behind
us, too.