2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

Dancing with Damage

Sometimes I let Damage win.
We’ve been wrestling for days
on the edge of my teeth.
No matter how much hair pulling
or ear biting, sometimes
I give in.

I curl up like a small child
and lie in her bony lap.
Some may say I wear her
like a cross on my back,
but she’s the one wearing me,
wraps my heart around her like a cape,
splits my head across her knees
using them as shin guards.

As a child, she ran me
like a bully-sister,
warded off the boys
like Buffy with her stake.
She kept all my keys under her tongue
clenched by pit-bull teeth.

I learned to pick my battles.

She can sleep for weeks at a time
in her coffin-bed night.
That’s when I dance all night,
swim moonlight-naked,
run head-first for love,
and make no more apologies.

When she wakes again, she yanks me down,
my legs kicking–my fists punching. I thought
I was done with her. I thought
we’d shared our last breaths–
but we’re here again, now.

So I let her pull me into her embrace,
crying like a knee-scraped school girl.
Then, after a while, D and I lie on our backs,
listen to records as loud as we can,
and sing along until our throats hurt.

First published in On the Grid Zine.

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Feature Readings · Recordings

Ugly Much Feature from 7-25-18

Thanks to Ellen Weber, my entire set from my feature at the Ugly Mug on July 25, 2018 was recorded and compiled into a playlist. Half of which are poems from my last chapbook, Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover, and from my next full-length book, Conversations with Gravel.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · Recordings

Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover Recordings on Soundcloud

April is National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) in which poets attempt to write 30 poems in 30 days. One of my big goals of 2018 is to really focus on my personal poetry again, so I thought I’d dive into 30/30 this year after a 5 year hiatus. So it hasn’t worked exactly how I meant it to. Instead of writing a new poem every day, I decided to do a poetry focused thing every day. Writing, revising, hosting, featuring, and recording. To celebrate the upcoming release of my new chapbook, Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover, I recorded all 17 poems and posted them on a playlist on Soundcloud. Click here and let me know what you think!

 

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

Love Letter No. 3: To My Mending Self

You may begin to miss the grieving
the adrenaline heart thrashing in your ribcage
the coughing lungs asking permission to breathe
You may begin to hear all the quiets
humid silence scratching
each day confirming
this is it
this is all it will ever be

You may begin to miss the panic of hope
tangled in his kite strings
miss the fight, the battle, the bruise
miss kissing blood from rope-burned hands
You may begin to sleep through the night
to lack rebuttal
to forget to answer back

You may begin notice
the crevices in your wrists
the uneven scurry
of a black beetle across concrete
notice the sound of lead scraping paper
how it curls to the rub of an eraser
disappears like it was never there
to begin with

First Published in Indiana Voice Journal.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

Girl in Flight

I envy the girls
with light filled wings
They fly from breeze to breeze
pouring beams from their teeth
All men audience them
eat their smiles like candy
They breathe in love—
they breathe out love
No man ever
centers their universe

I could not be that girl for you
one with laughing eyelashes
smooth cheeks glossed
for kissing and leaving
kissing and leaving

I am unwinged, gravity locked
in oceans—not sky
teeth for crushing chains
eyes fire-fed
to burn through hurricanes

My love is anchor
my love is whale song
my love is sandpaper grit
galaxies inside pearl
volcanoes under mountain

My love does not breeze—
but tunnels into mantle
burrows into core
You want a girl in flight
laughing eyelashes
but I am unwinged gravity

First published in Indiana Voice Journal.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say Run

Get out, get out
and into the world
a woman like me
would tie your hands with ropes
and hang them from her hips

Get out while you can
and let the wind carry you
a woman like me
would climb from under your boots
and into your pockets
lay you down heavy on her bed
just to rise above you

Get out and wander
be a wild bird
a woman like me
would clip your song feathers
and stuff them in her mouth
just to have your voice
seeping from her ears

Get out and make no promises
don’t even say you won’t
a woman like me
hangs on open window sills
burns her eyes on the driveway’s end
holds all your words
like collected seashells
in her cupped hands

Get out and go far
take no existing path
a woman like me
would strip you naked
press you inside of her
memorize the turn in your face
in the dim light
she’d reach in and pull
all the strength you have left

Get out
She’ll want to cut rings
from the center of your eyes
and string them like beads
around her neck

Get out
She’ll envy the breath in your lungs

Get out
She’ll put a straw to your mouth

Get out
She’ll want you empty

Get out
She’ll drain you cold as death
just so she can pour her blood
into your veins

First published in Indiana Voice Journal.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

Elephant

We dance under the belly of the elephant
Not the dance-floor dance, but the slow move
around the words we won’t say
Move in and out of her shadow
Her dark cast allows our mouths to press our breath
around it, around the letters lost in open windows
I want you to press me full against elephant legs until
deep grooves of skin catch light
Her skin is your skin and the skin of your children
heavy with memory, pachyderm heavy
She shifts her weight and I wait for you to name her
call her out of decades, twenty-two years
You push off one finger to the other hand but
there it is in simple gold elephant eyes
Will you step out from under her
I cannot lean crouched here
swaying to your resonate voice
to the arch of your teeth
to the groove of your sleeve soft
underneath my fingertips
sliding down corduroy red

First published in velvet-tail.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

Paper Airplane

We keep gnawing at roots
sopping in alcohol.
I am full. You still starve.

You want me bath-soaked,
I need you tree hollow.
So I tear at your bark skin

until you bleed spoiled sugar.
Open my fingers and peel sunset
leaves from my palms.

Spit the pulp from my tongue,
lay it flat into perfect white rectangles,
press out every last drop of rain.

Let sunlight inhale what’s left.
Even your teeth hate
how little I want to kiss you.

As you wither, I fold you in half,
crease your edges. Nose you forward.
Refuse to watch what happens next.

First published in Paper Plane Pilots.

Events · Recordings · Special Projects

Long Beach Underground Video

Here I am reading a few poems for the event I did a couple months back, Long Beach Underground. It’s less than ten minutes to play. Really, you can listen without watching too. Thanks to Sanjin Obi Malesevic for putting it together!