Lightning. Photo by j_arred.

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Reverse Aubade

   It’s not that you spilled water on the electric
where our cellulars plug in their white veins.
Or that the A/C refuses to breathe.
                                                               O, blinking
lights, I say. Come to bed, you say. I part the blinds’
overgrown fringe, looking for a sign of life:
on another balcony,
                    I see a fire in pixels, the city glow humming
behind its rooftop. That song feels so far from here.
I watch, listen to the distilled quiet, as it pours itself empty
into a cup.
                    Only birds interrupt with their
impatience for morning. I feel the same.
The dark doesn’t give us much time here, & that is just
one of the ways we’re fooled,
                                                               a half-assed
       gesture familiar to the heart. I hear you
shift in bed—assure me in your own way that you’re here
                    & you matter.


Migration Pattern

I’ve decided I’m not going to love you.
Or I’ll love you like socks,
think you sexy as laundry. Sky
Harbor is just the kind of contradiction
I can stand because it sounds
so pretty. I watch birds fly, birds

in a misery of pink wings, birds
as playful as watermelon. Oh, the you
of summertime. Of sounds:
laughter, a dancing ribcage of rocks.
Of a mouth full of strange diction,
like the sky’s.

There’s a crooked evolution of sky
as the row of birds
struggles in its prediction
for us. Deciphering the shape of you
in all this is like the collapsible walk
of a chimney, the way a true brick sounds.

I’m getting nowhere as the sounds
of your steps sky
forward, getting nowhere as in talk’s
opposite, the trick of getting a bird
to bird backward like loving you.

a tumultuous growth, anti-gravitation,
I’m all of a sudden the air & wherever you
are, you’re writing lines in the sky
because you can’t find paper, just origami birds
you can’t bear to unfold.
I like that I already know this about you.

From what I can tell, harbor & dock
are names for the same series of actions:
respites, coming to stay, like the safety of birds,
too good a promise. It sounds
like I shouldn’t read the sky
too soon, or at all. But you,

you. My messiah of knowing: birds
& theirs & everything’s respective skytalk:
hard sounds of -iction, -iction, -iction.


A Study of You, Love

My back against the car, dirty from the liquid
dust, then over your shoulder, I sucked face with
the ground. In between burps, you mocked the desert,
found some comfort in the bit of lightning

like a skull cracking in half. I showed you the picture
I saved of light stabbing the sky twice, which meant
everything. Cars moved the streets like a flame
moves a match, & we knocked our bottled beers

together, testimony to our little sumthin’-sumthin’.
What does the clink of glass mean tonight?
Christ, it could mean anything: A bunny’s tiara
or the seashell’s a capella. Post-swig,

you made love to my shoulder, gnawed
on the round bone like an apple you didn’t want
to finish. All around us, little men in motorized
wheelchairs zoomed past toward the Grand

Canyon. Rock formations have their origins:
The consequence of comets colliding,
or a woman pushing a cart full of balloons
or two people making a promise on a bridge.

We gave birth to the word.


Note: “A Study of You, Love” was previously published in Karankawa (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)