étude

light ended            between two oak trunks     a breath caught
sharply drawn        because I can’t      speak can’t say          the bird
over there              with beak like knife like     tongue is
broken cannot       fly I call        out in song               and blade
I resent the ground          this bird         this one        is you and   your arms are
bent               the wrong way    and I did that            to you and you
are lying on your back       and the city sinks   like shoulders under water
under the faucet   and can the heat        of you undo            the knots in my back
in my shoulders    I am twisted I              am bent     the wrong way and
the night is   full of hands        clasped palm             to palm holding
the light        of eyes of flight  of lampposts              holding on because
I do not want           to fly anymore     to release to             open my fingers
            to end

Day One: Reflections from Cell #4505

And the light shone in through the light, through the negative, and the sprockets could not keep pace. They tore themselves in all directions, limbs of suicidal silver nitrate turning them- selves into whispers of reflective hair bounding itself into ropes and cords, in chains, that hair. And from the acid it emerged, not revealed, but completely blank, so that not only was the current picture removed, but all traces within the mind of the event, of the day, of the moment, obliterated. It was a snake, and eventually it tore itself free from the bath of my own self resignation, my own complacency with the past, and began to crawl forward. Image after image, no longer images, but notes of condemnation branded in by the reflective light of Mars. I slowly crept backwards, but the film, the light and light, kept moving forward, this time, with almost military skill and precision. I grabbed it by the throat, and the blood rushed.

Portrait of a Summer Day

A young man sits alone, his large frame taking up the driver’s side of a cherry red 2005 Honda Element. Hand pushing down on the left dial of a broken radio, the familiar chords of "Life in the Fast Lane" sputter out to fill the vacuum of trapped heat and closed windows. The car is warmed by an unrelenting Sonoran sun that refuses to notice that the AC has been broken for months. His body arches forward; a streak of balmy sweat left on the seat clings to the drenched fabric of his white t-shirt, unable to part in the car’s sweltering interior. Sinew and tendon bulge below umber skin, fingers pound the steering wheel, their glistening marks coating the boiling vinyl resin. With each downbeat, shining black hair leaps from his head—chin bobbing up and down, eyes tightly closed, fingers bounding between dashboard and wheel. The scene is almost religious in the singularity of the man’s fixation.

Reflections of a Wanderer

Dear Juniper,

I wonder if you, too, ever find yourself caught in late night cycles of bittersweet recollection of the months we spent together, and, after drifting through a night of sleepless longing, you wake up to a world that appears colorless and muted in comparison to the world we shared. But perhaps I am just imposing my own experience onto you. I still feel your presence stirring within me, and the truth is, I hope that you do feel the way I do, that I haven’t already become irrelevant. Those months where we roamed from farm to farm across Europe, wild adventurers with only each other to rely on, were a time of utter liberation and personal discovery for me. I felt, essentially, happy.

The Golem

And with the spoon of creation he stood, bending over banks of the river, carefully placing spoonfuls into the casket. The soil—white, burning bright, bleached, sucking in desperately with its porous, speckled mouths the skin of the Rabbi, sensing the Hebrew blood that coursed within. It clung tyrannically to his hands, merging in with his flesh to the point that his blood began churning, swooshing, pulsating, crashing, buzzing, blasting to the rhythm of the primordial earth. The river water, stopped to the point that it began to run backwards, forming little cancerous pools along the banks under his feet.

Driving Lessons

Driving Lessons

The highway fired like a neuron down the Oregon coast, and I was an electrical impulse. Off to the right side of the road, the waves surrendered over and over again against the shore. I imagined that at night, each individual house, cars in the driveway, shone as its own lighthouse, for whatever that house had lost to sea. Each one had lost something, some thing taken, something discarded.

Hikers

I
absorb the pain
from the feet that tread
on me. I’m not sure why they do it—
move their silly little ligaments until they break,
and suck in wind through paper-thin lung tissue until it
shreds. I guess they like the view, which is strange, because
they’re only looking out at more of what they just climbed. Once, one of
them scuffed up their feet so badly they bled streams, but they kept walking,
and whooped as they inhaled dust, and swirled into the blood
cascading down my slope were
tears of joy.

Plain People

“We’re different folk, our family.” Ma says, kneeling beside her parrot’s cage, pushing sunflower seeds through wire bars. 

My great great grandmother came down to Texas from Tennessee over a hundred years ago. She stopped her wagon on grey land at the base of Tornado Alley and built a farm. Since then my family has been stuck between oil rigs and cattle ranches. We’re not really farmers, not native to the land.

I think we stay mostly for the heat. 

Home

There is a house out in the woods.
Its windows are broken, spiderweb cracks shivering the glass.
Frost on the panes like dead ferns.
Snow has drifted up the house’s peeling, weatherworn sides.
Where shingles have fallen, cavities gape. The house’s gums are swollen.
Walls groan with the wind.
The porch has splintered into brittle shards. Warped with time, it buckles inwards.
Rains stain a mottled pattern in the dark paint.
The doors are gaping mouths.