During Death’s last visit to our house,
she was making jewelry out of sea glass.
One by one the necklaces came. Hanging
on clouds of ball chains and leather,
dangling above a valley of cleavage,
the road between hills shattered and shimmered
with what the sea could no longer hold
in its salty mouth of sorrow.
The lighter scraped my thumbprints raw
as the little glass bowl of dopamine clouds
became a place where nothing lived,
not even animals a child might see.
Maybe that’s what I feared the most,
that she would find a piece of me
breaking through the sand, then pull me out
of a hole in her foot, howling like an animal.
Published in Ground Fresh Thursday
Somewhere between crest and crash,
you remembered to paint the sky with relief,
a parasympathetic pink. Like the morning
sweat of fourteen years, drying on a canvas
our bodies were, chaos framed by care.
When hope crumbled into pinches of salt,
into pleasure’s sea of drown and don’t, there you stood
like a lightning rod at the edge of swim in me.
Both of us needed the shore to be more
than a church where the sun is praised,
more than pews of emerald waves where
jellyfish sting hallelujahs. Climbing up the cliff’s
steps of scars from the driftwood shack of bones,
made falling back down less romantic, less real,
like Suffering losing its paddles that night
beneath the shadow of a pearl.
Holding me down, like a brush in your glass,
I begged to be pink again, to feel myself splash
off the end of you like Pollack using bourbon for blue.
Published in Natural Bridge
In some ways we’re still the same, preferring abandonment
by men with swords, men wearing crowns of bloody tiaras,
soaked in sweat with splintered hands and shirtless bodies
in the shadows of crosses. Men whose mothers immaculate lies
made us believe we were special enough to die as an act of love.
Men whose fathers made hay from shame where they laid
our infant bodies down, stuffing our mouths with stars.
Religious men were drawn to us, our innocence a magnet of terror,
planting the seeds of danger’s dereliction as romantic approval
of the body as man, while rejecting the soul of a boy. It’s strange
how I keep saying these things after all that we’ve been through,
after so many years spent looking for you in everything that suffers.
Which is why I decided to write you a letter and mail it to myself.
No response is expected unless you have something to say.
Every boy in every man on every street in America
Published in The Raw Art Review
Watching my neighbor’s American cars
fade from the corner of my eye,
yards grow jaundice with dandelion grief,
my skin more yellow each day.
These are virile Navy boys
whose adolescent complexions
of stripes and scars fly like a flag
of deafening steel over my pillow at night.
For some, it may be a rapturous moment,
except no one’s meeting Jesus in the sky,
no camouflaged angels from the throne of god
will bring them safely back home.
Absence worships memory here, like
like a weed eater trimming rocky ground
from a place where they started their engines
at dawn, a cathedral of gnashing teeth.
Published in New Limestone Review
Anti-Psalm Queer Words from The Mouth’s Deep South
Hallelujah for the still water’s furious roar pounding me like god into crumbs.
In the beginning it was want, touch, the touch of want, being transgressed by the dangerously different,
a film noir cartoon of my body’s insurrection watching me storm through the moral checkpoint
where desire stripped down is a birdcage of beaks— minus the shimmer of ebony wings intent on escape.
It was me who helped dirty things fly, pigeons praying on the bed of my body
a translucent fan of origami skin thrashing heaven, screeching listen to me, listen to hands that don’t give a damn
in a stranger’s pants at 2:00 AM. Hands become bowl beneath the body of Christ in a small southern church
where folded palms never could hold my attention. Being a member of only one body, one sanctified torso
to enter and exit, my tongue found a reason to not swallow itself as punishment for such incorrectness,
unleashing words like a gentle pit bull raised on sweet meat of sameness. Unlike David
no harp taught my hands the harmony of sling and song. Unlike David it wasn’t Goliath
who fed me the fear of men. I was safe, sleeping there, a conqueror’s seed in my mouth.
Published in Scalawag Magazine
Gone Blue, Gone Gray, Gone Away
At the heart of Appalachia, near the Ohio River,
in the back of my Father’s throat,
a combine strips the past from the present.
Inhaling “No,” exhaling “Yes,”
everything green and gold in between
becomes rows of what can’t be forgotten.
Never have I listened so closely
to the stethoscope swinging from my soul,
or been so devoted to one man’s words
beating like a snare drum in both our wrists
at the end of a battle,
gone blue, gone gray, gone away.
Made as I am of rough southern straw,
broken and bundled in muddy brown fields,
the near-fatal choice of not being chosen,
is a memory none of us have. There were no crows
to scare with hands that did not hold my own.
There were no crows at all.
Published in Compose Literary Journal
for the apneic embrace, the moment you get
all hyped up, blue-lipped & brave
& witness the act of not leaving.
Spare your eyes a sorrowful fall
over my shoulder’s flannel cliff
& down your silky bra.
Make the unnatural natural.
Do what it takes to be still as a grave
committed to holding you down.
It’s the dirt we have on each other,
the red silhouettes of Georgia clay
ghosting themselves in the wind-chimes.
The body has done a fabulous thing
chaining our spirits to loss. What better
reason to squeeze and squirm, as if
there was someplace safe to go.
Those dangerous times were bone
breaking blues, a hairline gospel
from the fault line of heaven. Remain
on the coast, surfing breath with me.
Drowning is nothing but the last cocktail.
Published in Anti-Heroin Chic