Like fireworks, like embers

You, hot like asphalt four tires screeched

across 3 pm middle of july, los angeles

in apartment slum neighborhoods

where they peddle ice cream from push carts,

aunts leaning on balconies smoking,

sweat in a luge race down the massive curves

of shoulders used to lugging children

small faces haloed by sun-bleached

chlorine ruined hair, who dance and

fall in roiling groups between the ages of 2

and 15 growing and collapsing in size

from one day and one summer to the next

feet callused from scorched cement sidewalks

forever shoeless, eternally trading shirts

hats and bicycles to get from one house to

another, chasing the few small dogs out of

the yard, which seek the chickens pecking

the sterile dirt

and the boredom, the sheer weight of it,

loading up the car to cruise

windows down, busted ac, throbbing bass

the stick of pleather seats

lukewarm beer bought in unwieldy bottles

2 for $5 and the smell of food cooking

at all hours, front doors propped open

sounds of car jingles, mattress sellers,

check cashing sirens warble vapidly

from one yard to the next

the ice cube against the fevered neck

perching in front of the box fan

the sheets hung for curtains,

velvet light, matted hair, sunburned lips

sleeping on top of the sheets, falling

into fitful unconsciousness,

dreaming of ripened strawberries

cleaved and sugared.

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I’m sorry, have we met?

“To be able to forget means sanity.”
– Jack London

You walk through walls,

little dreadful,
unspooling the heat from your limbs
trail-like, behind you,
pieces of yesteryear
and the memories codified,
collapsed into meaningless shapes
so that I am following a path
of armless stars, pointless
dust, you speak.
remember when we shared a common
language? when the tongue
maneuvered in the concavity with
a native ease
until the land was conquered,
the men in bizarre hats
golden buckled and buttoned
to the gills holding
rifles to our throats
and I find myself losing it all,
piecing old pages together
an index of syllables unmeshable
your weird semantics
roiling as water washing on the
rocks, flowing over me.
do you even have hands, anymore?
what has become of us and
is there anything to even note,
a dog eared moment in the onset.
you move your body eclectically –
a jagged light around your edges
fizzing and collapsing mutely
and I wait and wait
and I write and write
while imagining the look on my face
at your deathbed,
practicing a composure felt,
untaught, an alien mask
between us.
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What am I to do with all of this?

a question:
can you even look at yourself

set your lip on a silver lining
draw it off smooth
and watch the red come in
dots then waves.

an optimist wears
her smile on the end of a
watch chain,
tick at the ready –

branches arch and crumble
a hurricane can uproot
even the deepest grown
and I am here, waiting
with tomorrow’s forecast
light showers, chance
of forgiveness

I thought open arms
would yield open hearts
but I have become
christ without a cross
and I was never good
when I could have been great

you have twin boys
and no warning
and for that, I am sorry.

eve chose the first option
presented, did not yet know
the delicious sin of
but what I wouldn’t give
for her mouth to have landed
on a slightly different breed

this is about optimism,
I think, or it is about
the weight we unknowingly
it is about facts and truth
and the gorge between them.

there is nothing to see,
only a thin border
along the edge
of a better option

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Sometimes I look at old drafts to see what I never published and try to figure out why. This poem feels half-finished and weak, a mimic of better poets’ styles and I think I knew that then, when I first wrote and never published it. But still, there’s one phrase in here I will likely repurpose: “I am undoing the knots.” Looking back is hard, but look what you can get from it. 

Speak slowly, and clearly, when you speak of me and him

That hate slouching from your mouth has miles before it reaches me

And I wait to breathe in every word,

To absorb it with the marrow of my future and feel it in the base of my past

So I know how heavy bitterness clings to your insides.

I can feel the threads of you still caught in his clothes

Invisible but so heavy they pull his confidence down over his shoulders like the arc of lead angel wings

And it’s all I can do some days to strip him of the language you taught him to speak

Where every look is uglier than sin and sex was something less than a four letter word

I am undoing the knots you wove in him

I am spinning him into something stonger

I wrote this three years ago

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I’ve Been Meaning to Write, I Swear

It’s about time

she said
but, absent of tone,
I couldn’t tell if she meant
that finally, god finally,
we were getting somewhere
it really is about time
It’s been three years since
I’ve seen my mom
and eight hours since
she’s messaged me
I have a collection of unanswered
electronic messages
stowed like glassware
during the war
It’s been ten years since
I’ve lived with her
a decade spent
raising and lowering flags,
sailing toward Polaris
willfully ignoring that the earth is round
and that eventually, habitually,
I return to my point of departure
always minding the shoals,
always still catching in them
I have written the beginning
of about thirty letters
I can’t get to the end
because I haven’t taught my mouth
yet to speak the unspeakable
and my cursive devolves
into spirals
I can’t help but imagine
a house partially built
by two arsonists. Is it
any wonder there’s still
ash on the ground?
Is anyone surprised
by a persistent smell
of gasoline?
I write back. I type out my words
with the care of a mortician,
a period at the end of each sentence
a tie around the neck
I generally get this message in return:
I love you
I miss you
It’s about time
It means it has been
years, yes.
It means, it has been
years, of course.
It means, time is something
And I nod in agreement,
close the tab,
lower my flag.
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For you

I speak around you

I let my words come
within a breath of your skin
(I want them to feel
your heat,
you see)
I guard my tongue
against the meat of it,
how you exist,
the sacred rhythm
of your pulse
(trying to describe
how your heart moves
like a jaguar under your
breast, in assured
heavy footfalls)
do I share your hands,
or the subtlety of your sleep?
You, my favorite,
are the statue I keep
under silks,
the poem I
write, again and again,
and read only to myself.
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Fever Dreams

Time slips into my small cup
and then I swallow.
In between the slice of hands,
I’ll be somewhere else.

Never inured, my blood
lays down the warhammer,
with a porous stomach,
slow processing liver.

They want me down and
down I stay,
awash in a febrile state.

Who wakes up, tear-streaked
and fawn-limbed, bowed at the joints
from a slim white pill?
Perhaps this is the last rebellion.

A legacy of trembling hands,
bore a daughter incapable.
Nature finally coddled the babe,
“This one is mine.”

Loose tongue, mad rambling,
forms surfacing, then dissolving
and I’m awake, four in the morning,
sweat-coated and unknowing

what parts of my mind
are tucked into the dream.
Nature, heredity, self-destruction
pull at their own threads,

artificing at influence,
when the corpus knows best:

the blood with open arms,
a body with a will of its own.

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RSVP Regrets Only

I don’t have the words

to explain drowning

but I have two hands for applying pressure

to wounds and throats


You ask me where I’ve been,

and I, tired, ignore your calls.

Listen to your voice

tin-thin rattle through an answering machine,

the high sound a relic

of some other time.

I’d rather see the words typed out,

separated by stops on a telegram,

than hear your words laced

with quiet admonishments

in between the sighs

and static-rustle of machinery.

I can’t seem to get out of bed.

I must have, I know.

There are traces of my soul

left around the old haunts.

Piece by piece I am gone missing

as though the grocery store,

post office,


have gutted me patiently with a

melon baller.

The texts stop coming,

the phone quiets and the hush

leaves tinnitus in its wake.

The closing of the doors

is only symbolic

and I take for granted

how often you let me come home,

and I, feral, uneasy,

sit on your perch like a cat

knowing that now the door has opened,

I have all the time in the world

to come back in.

How can I tell you

that I am buried? Dirt in my mouth

and the weight of every missed

appointment bearing down

and I, not afforded a casket,

feel it all.

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I’ve been away

Writing my senior project. All in all, 36 pages. A lot of poetry, a lot of sleepless nights thumbing through old writing. I’m sending a lot of it out to journals and anthologies, so I’m going to avoid posting any of it here for the time being. I’ll start writing again, new poems. Those will be posted here soon. I’m hoping for one new poem per week. 

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After the Accident

She misspoke, called it the ephemeral artery,

miming a slicing motion over her right thigh.

She closed her eyes, lips moving in anticipation

of borrowed words filling her mouth:

“If a person bleeds long enough,

they lose all coagulates.”

Hours earlier, a doctor in fresh scrubs said

almost the same thing. With every nerve flickering,

she listened, but couldn’t unstitch her eyes

from the blood drying on his shoes.


We tried gauze, the doctor said.

He didn’t say it was like

throwing a sponge into the ocean.

Sometimes the pressure stems the flow, he said.

He thought of cupping his hands

around a dying star,

trying to contain the pulsing light.


The rose petal of her cheek withered

under fluorescent waiting room lights.

She imagined him an iron fountain,

every wasted drop,

a moment lost from her.

She put her hand to her throat,

her wedding band glinting,

and felt herself drowning in his flood.

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