poem from a daybed

the only lilt
is in the smirk
just before i make
you smile

high off it
like it’s
running out

that fear as usual
unfounded
in that i am
learning your
weak spots i can
use to have
you make your miracles
your missouri lips
pulling your face
up and tight

while i’ve got a few
inches on you
i look up at you
like the cosmos
or a building long loved
sure that the air
will hold you
all three
up there

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

i cried to dream again

how can a nihilist be so fatalistic
how is it possible that all possible
worlds and timelines that i should
always find myself on the same
chosen wasteland
no
this won’t do anymore

in the way that i have let you become sovereign
to my entire heart in just a couple weeks
too can you also become the pollen
a bee can
with work
turn to honey

it is unknown to me whether or not
there is only one person left
in this world
on this timeline
that i can be both made and
unmade by nearly on the same day
nearly and often in the same moment
but you do seem the richest color of love
occurring naturally

i am moved to tears in my
self indulgent loneliness
and perhaps in the coming weeks
of growth (to sky or to soil)
i may find within me a capsule
filled with youth enough
courage enough
faith enough
to put myself in such a way that
you could turn me
into no thing             nothing                n o  t   h    i     n      g       n        e         s          s

maybe when that happens
or if
(if you were to be gentle)
i will reach towards both star and flesh
singing your name underbreath
like the wind carries a kite

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

laguardia

laguardia is everywhere i’ve been
a street by my college
and now in front of me

a granite bust
definitely made posthumously
why else would he look so dejected
that sits below a model of i think
a bomber which is a weird sentiment
for an airport
which sits below a skylight
that has 16 lines and 3 concentric circles
forming 64 geometric shapes but only 4 unique ones
fiorello’s statue looks unfinished
which perhaps the sculptor intended
as this city and its returning GIs felt
unfinished after the war
but too often as we artists forget
context is for professors or those living it

the murals around me in this post deco rotunda
satisfy me in a way i’ve not been in awhile
especially not after jalapeño cheddar
pan pizza from dominos i ate last night
and the mausoleum it has created
in my growling stomach

not since nora and i accidentally snuck into
the palacio de las bellas artes in mexico city
to look for the blueprints of juan o gorman’s
1929 house
and reaching a mexican dead end
which is when someone doesn’t really
know what you’re talking about
but gives you a nearly overconfident lead
we then walked down the stairs
to see murals by diego rivera
i had only seen in the margins
of a middle school spanish book

they impressed upon me the memory
and feeling of meaning to see and experience things
but not having the cache sufficient
to store everything there
least of all great works of art by non white artists
i have been brainwashed to undervalue

the flag behind me is hung from
its top two corners
the bottom two not
all the doors being open
there is a breath to the space
and every minute or so the flag gets a gust behind it
and it drags softly on the green marble
to lightly touch the back of my head
to remind me
i am in america
as though the national guardsmen with guns
wasn’t on the nose enough

the breeze smells like indian spices
despite the restaurant beside me
being named YANKEE CLIPPER
which in queens makes it particularly
and happily
american
i take a selfie video for my instagram story
to likely caption something like
“do u ever feel america watching u?”
but that will disappear in 24 hours
and while the poem may last
the context may not

the sculpture begins to feel like a mirror

[may 14 2018]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

untitled [politically]

america you are the sick kid
who comes to school because
he's worried his best friend
will get the girl he sits behind

america you are uncut
six pack plastic ringlets
made for convenience
trashed for worthlessness
waiting for fish to lynch
or flowers to grow from your face

america you are every
broken door hanging mirror
on the curb reflecting overcast
into a neighbor’s empty
living room

america you are denuded
silos of grain stocked
for the coming unrest
in the naked cities

america you are hungover
thinking thoughts of hate
at roommates making
breakfast too loudly

america you are a goth teen
now praying for his life in a sea
of glimmering safety glass in his
mom’s rolling airborne suv

america you are planned
obsolescence
apoptosis
scab foam
a suicide gif

america my immigrant father is gone
america my immigrant mother is tired
america your name still makes me nervous
america

[january 1 2017]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

double tidal orbit

abandoned by the wind
with little pieces
of paper wife to
the southern side
of my shoes
a fluorescent light
in an office building
is extinguished
in the blueing dusk
seconds after the yellow
street lamps turn on
i wonder if i have
witnessed something

i’ve missed four cross walk signals
and anyways my shoelaces
are tied together by your name

[october 8 2015]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

being the only sober person at new year’s at caroline’s in echo park

we were counting down
leah kept asking for a time check
and i wasn’t sure where the
second hand had gone on my phone
and anyways i was so nervous about not kissing someone
but really i was mostly thinking about where we were re time
and how if i was off people would notice and be mad
but nobody had their phone out i was the keeper of time
i had one job and i let the inexactitude of technology
put me out into silence like a cigarette in an ashtray quietly smoldering

[january 14 2018]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

spoonfeeding casanova

creme brûlée i think
i’m sure he’s overweight
i can’t see because the tables
weren't purchased with the height
of the banquettes in mind
the woman with the spoon
glances over to me every couple bites
like she knows about me
or at least what i used to be like

everyone in the place has a side
of sautéed kale that they won't finish
wilting further in a tiny enamel cast iron pot
ordering dessert with a creamy flirty look
like an aunt visiting from out of town
feigning surprise once fries
that she ordered arrive at the table
the same surprise as when her eye cream
and crystals do not work and in the morning
looking back in the mirror she sees her shadow self

i’m eating some disappointing chicken dish
more bone than anything
focusing on farro and counting
how long its been since
my last gout attack
while wondering if this woman
has looked again at me

she may have
but like the many
notebooks i fill 1/10th and then buy another
the same way my mother chain smokes
half of her salems lighting with the tips
of the old stuffing them into a napkin filled
with her spit to put out the embers
i feel too young still to glance a second time

[september 21 2017]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

citizens of st. louis

your "job creators"
your franchise owners
your city council members
have lowered minimum wage
from $10 to $7.70
which is to say $2.30 per hour
saved up to buy robots that
are still being beta tested
rest assured when they are ready
your pay cut now will pay for your termination then

this is to say your american dream
that you eat daily with breakfast
side of snake oil side of lotto ticket
should wake you hours before
so that you can see the sweat
collected on your brow
in the mirror and see it
is no different or better than
the sweat of a mexican
an african american
a syrian or a filipino

hating a liberal or hating a conservative
is like hating the flock from which
one bullet will pluck a life
maybe choose instead to trace
find the gun and its manufacturer
find the man and his father
see the faint boot heel shaped bruise
on the throat of his and his
remember that agreements last as
long as they are subtext to the liminal

act or the earth will swallow your remains
still digesting in the belly of industry

[july 6 2017]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

blessing for the griffith observatory

you have your name and
hill and park to surround
but i need to tell you something about yourself

you may have forgotten what you were for
as projections of the cosmos
line your cellar walls

but the city beneath you
and the country around
have turned you into a tomb

a tomb for the science that is hoped
to incite the young to hypothesize
to grow older and theorize

a landmark for cinephiles
and those excited to flex
their prowess cultural

but i am afraid you were born
to the wrong people who gasp
at your beauty yet graceless of your purpose

how far can you see on a good night?
how long ago were your optics antiquated
and not anewed unable to see past smog?

when ivy covers you after the warring worlds
my body amongst the mulch
i trust your pendulum still swings

[february 4 2017]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

rose noir

each pulse
distilled
blushing petals
woven oil rising
unanimated
crushed stars
in an hourglass
tipped to its side

you were given
this by me
and somehow
i seem to have
returned it

yours this
whole while

[june 15 2015]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

oil to the surface

i saw the explosion of american flags
on my safe and sound suburban street
after 9/11 and the big crunch
of their disappearance when
greed separated from ideology

the newly adopted
good times spirit
of the post war boomers
went starved and sullen
to fat and happy
now swollen and numb

aerial views of suburbia
like the inner workings
of nature itself
fibonacci and golden
ratios all present
but as a pattern
for human ailment
never observed

forlorn real estate
gladly turned to malls
carrying every single
item needed
when burning
aluminum cans
and cutting eyes
of relatives out
from pictures don’t
provide the chemical
thrills they once did

the sick fermented smell
iron and onions and
30 days sober again
desperate coffee breath
voices cholic from a failed
generational ferberization
experiment benefitting
parents that really did
need a break
or a messiah
or an ICBM

this aggressive disorder
cataracts of modernity
conviction of rightness
in the ever absence of doubt
nothing is right and
nothing is wrong
there only exists
undiagnosed
ancient avarice
present in our
DNA ours to read
without eyes
all this while

[march 22 2015]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

the great mall

i either wanted to buy
and be good at
jacks from the toy store
or a band t-shirt
maybe iron maiden
but that is too early
now that i think about it
it was san jose or
waikiki but
the food court would’ve
been the same anyways
four well known fast food chains
three places with things on
an open grill
and two cafes channeling
someone’s half remembered
trip to europe
while it was sunday afternoon
none of the people i passed by
looked like they were
shopping out of need
want or even entitlement
the shoe dragging shuffle
droves of yawning adults
children on a slack leash
sulking obediently behind
they are here out of habit
and i’m jane goodall

[may 23 2012]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

shadow in the shade

you are an artifact of faith
a crease in my cynicism
iridescence in the depths
in the way
fish do not boast
of holding their breath
your smile does not
renew its vows to you

quietly the orchids grow
saint preceding each
time your name
is whispered
flower to flower

[june 29 2015]

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

the fourth in coronado

these people here don’t want to leave
children in the bay fingers plump
like spring sweet plums
smiles pulled tightly
from a day sunned

their parents
pruning crowsfeet
squashing tales of age
with giddy rum chuckles
on gingham tablecloth
turned blankets

the navy blows up a barge
everyone but the veterans cheer
swigging their pacificos eyes aimed
at the bottoms of the bottles

[june 20 2015]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

like ships in the night

you make me
want to dance slow
cheek-cheek
hand-hand
the corners of our eyes
just missing one another

you might call me honey
or something sweet
but we agree
are past euphemisms

we could be like
dry champagne
with wedding cake
perfect
decadent
but so poorly timed

[april 11 2014]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

who doesn't like dogs

gentlemen
and i use that term loosely
god is giving a picnic
we were invited
but the last one
you guys complained that the grass
was making your jeans wet
and the sun was sort of too hot
but the grass was wetter in the shade
and the food on the trees wasn’t growing
big or fast enough
and the meat wasn’t
juicy or succulent enough
and the water wasn’t sparkling
you couldn’t find the waste baskets
not realizing you could bury everything
to turn to dust to turn to soil to turn to food
he brought everything
but your criteria has made
you blind of wonderment

[march 24 2013]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

how sweet they were

i like a strange
or strong nose
on a woman
not elephantine
but pronounced
and proud as
though it were her decision

i’m not sure if you
ever looked at me
so all my memories
of you are profiles

[march 6 2014]