The Build Up

In the days after you were gone
I collected bar stamps
on my inner wrists and hands.
I let the door men question
how long’d been since my last shower
with a smile, the scent of our embrace
buried beneath layers of ink;
to think the process cathartic,
letting those bruises rise to the surface
with an artificial substance, solace
in ginger ale fizz and your smudging
like sage, until my touch leaves prints
where I rest the glass.

I dragged a bar of rose soap, side to side,
like an over-sized pencil eraser
pressing into my skin, letting
what’s left of you run thin.
Like a drawing erasing its own lines
I realized, the artist
doesn’t always know what shape comes next.
These little mistakes belong to the process
of a sketch in progress, my clenched fists
around your presence here,
is no healthier than trying to drink
the black and blue circling the drain.

Mt. Tabor

At some corner I’ll find the way.
In some shadow, under last season’s
decay at the base of the mountain
I’ll hum out the vibrations, a thousand
silent noises shivering to come out;
a thousand bubbles in my throat
trying to be thunder. Under one of these pines
I’ll rearrange the muscles in my face,
contort and gnash tongue and teeth
to push this atmosphere between us
in such a way that you’d understand
the gravel below my collar, this fist
full of road is pumiced,
I may veer up a mulch trail and catch splinters
but I cling to the movement of cement fish nets
open and sprawling;
by always moving on I am in control
by always moving away
it’s easier to find the highway
than arrange letters and curve my lips around
what I don’t know how to say.

The Salutatorian’s Address


The Salutatorian’s Address, published by Typewriters and Salve. Read the full poem at

He graduated second in his class from a top tier
clown college on the north west coast of the states.
Somewhere far from the city he grew up in
surrounded by acres of wildlife and woodlands;
on graduation day he sat at a lake
drinking moonshine mixed with maraschino
cherries and slowly melting face paint.

Day Night Terror

You start wondering if it ever stops;
the flipping through photos, rereading old notes.

It’s quicksand you’re seated in along a quarry edge,
you used to come here to with friends to get dangerous
never knowing that some day the sand below would take hold;
it doesn’t let go. The first fall is the hardest,
you may chip a tooth or expose a bone when you land
side stepping into the silt to steady yourself,
but after you figure out how to cauterize that gash
having a leg stuck in the mud becomes the new normal.

The way in which a word loosens up
after being said too much, you begin to beg the ground
to do the same. It won’t. The earth continues to circle and
sometimes the cycle consumes you. You fight at first,
before accepting how unforgiving
the nature of agitated water and quarry.
You learn to watch the sand puddle swell and recede
sometimes to the hip, other times just past the knee.

The calendar will burn into your bones with the cautery.
A birthday, anniversary, the restart of an annual tradition.
The silt will suck you in without warning
with a barroom television or in the mirage of privacy
without discrimination. You start wondering
where all those friends have gone, ruminating,
why, aren’t their ankles still stuck?
Is anybody going to pull you up, did they forget,
did they even land anywhere
near the mud?

You’ll wake up in the morning.
Your body will only be soiled by sweat.
You’ll remember, that quarry was closed years ago
when somebody landed on a car and broke their leg.
You’ll pull yourself out
of the bed and into a shower
that is to say the time it takes to recover grows shorter.

You start wondering if it ever stops;
the distance between the reminiscence is enough

Sleeping In

The bed is extra warm this morning.
That’s not just an observation though it’s more
like a wake-up call, not unwelcome,
a completed night, I open my eyes,
there’s a rush of snow bounced sun in the windows
and you, lips slight agape, asleep.
Tiptoe my gaze to the clock just out of sight, I squint.
My grandmother lost her vision this year,
fading into the blanket I’ve pulled over my eyes
I wonder about your family, and replay the little glimpses
I’ve seen beyond this room
the way we chase the details in dreams if we don’t hold fast,
the way the sheets conform to your nude body and mine
hides below clothes I stole from the closet.
My socks are kicked towards the door. My toes dangle over the edge.
I glance to the bottle of water I left out and wonder if I could reach.
You roll and wrap your limbs across, pull me in tighter
and under the veil of cotton, I don’t fight the warmth for a moment.
I tell myself not to assign meaning to an unspoken movement
and embrace the weight on my chest like a kevlar vest
because this is the Vicodin rush,
the nitrous gas shiver flooding my cheeks rose
I glance to you, wonder if you know you’re smiling,
and let myself return to the dream.

Tennis Shoes

Airports are sovereign nations
we visit at the edges of our comfort
to become gummy worms in a soda can
tossed across the earth like a tennis ball;
pneumatic waiting rooms.
Little dystopian snow globes
where everyone is always going, away.
How silly,  to watch birds circle the tarmac
when they have unlimited air traffic;
my seat becomes a waterfall.
The window offers an illusion of normalcy,
hundreds of us hanging on
to headphones and televisions anxious
for the commercial to break
orbiting the gate.


I want to drink your coffee
just before sunrise on a work day
with snow collecting below the tailpipe
and the cats keeping our ankles warm.
It’s hard to explain so I don’t,
I just watch your reflection in the window
and try not to let the smiles without reason raise question.
That thought racing sensation of reaching for your hand
is narrated by prayers for rejection
and the bailout decision to pretend
I was reaching for something else.
And it’s silly to have such thoughts
and never speak of them directly
but I think it’s a defense thing
from the fear of your response
the fear around how putting something into words
makes that something more
than a daydream in a train window
I can look away from
and replace with small talk. There’s just
something in the way your hair curls over your scarf
and your laugh rumbles between words,
all the subtle things I can’t help but notice.
Like anchors in a storm keeping me present,
making me want to finagle some situation where it’s not odd
for me to ask things like why you entertain this thing I’m doing,
this identity hodgepodge I’m living;
you were the first one to tell me
attraction isn’t always black and white
and every time we hang out I’m kicking myself
for being too drunk to remember anything else you said that night.
I just want to play piano with my rings against the cup,
the snow coming down just out of reach, let me look
through those eyes in comfortable silence to know I’m not alone.
Then do me a favor and say anything
and free me from myself.