I In Lieu

Sometimes I clench my jaw at night
grind my teeth
unconscious to the swimmers and poachers, the entitled or deeply mislead
let my body take the fall


Sometimes the frogs don’t sing at night
police sirens wail
bodies hit pavement the way chicken breasts smack cutting boards
season with pepper to taste


Sometimes I wander the streets at night
hug street lamps
they cut down 49 trees outside my office this spring, all healthy
window watch with impuissant unease


Survivor Guilt

You’re going to die, and it keeps me up at night.
Your eulogy is a poem I don’t want to write.
I don’t sleep, waiting for the phone call that you’ve been found
with a landscape of poppy flowers blooming down the side of your pillowcase.
I don’t sleep, thinking of those who wear the mask of friendship
for a discount on bags of pot that ultimately fund your habit.
I stay up reciting the poem I wrote Juliette two years ago
when she died of the overdose you swore changed your approach
to selling drugs.
It’s the only thing you ever loved more than yourself.
From nobody to king pin on campus selling cannabis gave you a status
a name, you went from quiet kid
to molly kid
to hey got any more of that fire kid
you love every second of it. No longer a kid.
No longer the nintendo playing friend who’d swing with me for hours at the park,
became the phone never silent —gotta make a run —be right back
pay no attention to that it’s just pot.
It’s just addreall traded for pot,
just xanax someone didn’t want
just doing business what more do I want
just respect this is your job
That old commercial, that said pot was the gateway to addiction
fell short for the average user, the low risk abusers, not you no
pot is the gateway for greedy dealers who can’t keep their fingers
out of their own cookie jar.
After all, cocaine was just tonight and
if you just balance out the downers with uppers
because your body no longer could recover on it’s own,
you lost control.
You took a bottle of Jäger to wash the off label remedy down
and pushed me across the room.
I left you.
Now with every innocent bag of weed
they buy you another spoon another hit
and drive a shovel another inch
deeper into your grave.
And there’s nothing I can do but christ,
the sound of earth crunching keeps me awake.
Every night.


The days we fight gravity are the predecessors to well earned nights.
Where the gravitation of the moon seems to rip us from beneath our skin
so we may breathe the cleanest drags of stardust possible,
those are the nights we stay alive for.
These are the days we earn entry.
Hours spent holding our lead hearts with our stomach
strengthen our minds the way Olympians train their hands for war.
Tears that seem to erupt unannounced cleanse us for a fresh start.
That is the goal, is it not?
To become mothers of ourselves as we chose how this pain will shape our rebirth.
To live on and live beyond our inner stories and self,
to create and spread physical droppings of our invisible worth
within the minds and mindful lives of others less burdened by themselves
so on the day of their first fight with gravity they feel our tether reaching out
to them, assuring the new traveler, together, we can feel our way through the dark.
We will embrace the limpid sensation of exhaustion jaw-vicing our chests,
we will subsume the fatigue cast over us like a bird adapting to storm winds,
recalcitrant, tenacious, brazen yet patient with our minds
until a palpable release sets us soaring into the night we have earned.
We are star chasers in mid-day darkness,
We are a galaxy of survivors on the horizon.