I leave the milk out
because I don’t give a shit about the milk
and you do.
You shower for as long as the water stays warm
and make yourself late for work.
This game could go on forever,
but still, you never once apologized.
You pour out my coffee when it’s half-full,
trying to be nice.
You’re given a shrug with no expression.
This game could go on forever
but we won’t last that long
and no one can stand the smell of sour milk.
Still, I leave it on the counter
put your coat on, take the only car
and leave the garage door open
with the heat on in the house.
Life in a Tree
Alex says “Pep pep.”
which is what we say to each other.
I say “yeah”.
He says “How you feeling?”
I say “umm, good.”
He says, “good,
it can’t be bad living in a tree.”
and this is where the conversation pauses.
life can’t be bad living in a tree,
not that it isn’t tough living on a branch
up the hillside near the ocean’s shore.
it would most certainly be difficult to live
in this tree,
but the waves crash,
then the wind slows,
then a sunset,
and I’m out at the other end straddling the branch
with Alex recording
for a video he’ll never stop shooting.
I hear the wind in the tree
and see it on the short grass eight feet down.
I hear Alex behind me, shuffling for balance,
for the right shot.
He doesn’t say anything
and life in the tree couldn’t be bad right now.
Even when the wind picks up,
and the sun is covered with clouds,
and we’re finally hungry.
it can’t be bad.
Not when there’s Alex,
shooting what’s perfect
in a tree
on a hillside
overlooking the ocean.
Sonnet on the Behalf of Agatha Beins
I can hear myself laughing at her quotes;
phrases that Finn and I still often say.
Years later, he and I act the same way;
still making those strange voices with our throats.
I see her and I on the porch eating;
comparing our thoughts of our mothers’ faiths.
My clueless focus on my empty plate;
feeling satisfied and staying seated.
I imagine myself old and alone
with new reasons to ponder past flames;
to question what she saw in me at that age.
I’ll rock slowly in a loud chair at home
wondering if her voice is still soothing;
if calming memories are worth losing.
Three days in a row
I observed a sparrow perched
on the driver-side, rearview
mirror of my neighbor’s Rav-4.
The sparrow alternates from
the mirror to the adjacent window
in a quick attack then back.
What the bird does, every morning,
is fly itself into a glass pane,
flutter backwards, and repeat
as though what it attempted
should have worked.
After around the fifth or sixth
bump and flutter, I usually
lose interest and decide
there isn’t anything this bird knows
that I don’t know.
I turn away and continue on
doing whatever I was doing.
Today, I followed the sight
with cold breakfast. Yesterday
I went on to work. The morning
before is unclear.
The task I chose could have been
a short movement to a failure
to a regression, but I’ve forgotten,
and left myself capable of repetition.
The Good Times
The good times
are calling for me to come back to them.
They howl at midnight and ring bells
that sound like freedom. They’re yelling
over the music, even though they love the music,
just to get me back to them.
The good times were all I had to lose
and here I am walking casually away from
what they brought me,
but they’re calling like women.
They’re hollering out to me to come back over,
to come hang out, to share myself
and be in their midst. The good times and me,
some might say, didn’t always get along,
but I’ll be damned
if they aren’t turned to my direction
wearing a wide smile and beckoning.
The good times have a hand half-stretched to me
with one index finger motioning back and forth
and they know they can always have me back
if they just say the word.
I had an argument that wasn’t really an argument.
She said, she needs to quit furrowing her brow
because there are lines forming on her face.
I said that I don’t think they’re bad lines.
She said “no, these aren’t bad lines”
then swept along both sides of her mouth
and smiled. “I like smile lines.”
but she wouldn’t take the lines that show thought.
She was willing to leave it behind her
and not bring it into old age.
I’m not sure I’ll take lines with me,
and I’m not sure why I would choose one
from the other. I saw things differently
and she was fine with leaving what I thought
I think those lines her and I couldn’t agree on
aren’t really lines at all.
in our skin that show we spent time
talking to each other about complexities,
that we were smiling when we were happy
and we were taking the good with the bad
along with us as we went.
She probably thinks that too, but she won’t bother
her pretty face to consider it.
She smiles while she lets it go
and knows that that argument we had
wasn’t really an argument
because we let the points we both made
connect in the end and stay on our faces.
All the anger I’ve made today,
up the hill, up the hill.
My fear of the dark, any fear,
up toward the top. It’s forever
for now, like bad days
that were forever. Embarrassment
and envy. Up the hill
with the jealousy of a previous day.
All the loss, all the old haunts
to the top. With the pain,
grows a muscle in my chest
and along my spine. With the hills
comes the triumph of failing enough
to float for a moment before
I roll down to the bottom
with some new hurt that must go
up the hill, up the hill, to the top.
From the far side of the Milky Way,
a swirling noise lowers itself onto this world.
Amanda is an architect, a waitress, a singer
a soon-to-be bride.
The concentration it requires to not focus
on the little details of her own wedding
are enough to ignore the narrow light source
on top of her. It’s Autumn after all
and moonlight shoots through clouds
just as eerily as the light taking Amanda up.
Her dress sucks to her legs and her hair
sticks out from the static electricity.
The groom is at a pavilion, he’s standing alone.
He is tired of looking at the ground
so he looks up at the night sky. It’s clearing now.
He gazes at the opening between the clouds
the moons reflection highlights them.
A whir of wind on the tall trees. A flash,
maybe a shooting star. The groom smiles,
perhaps forever isn’t such a big thing.
he’s the smiley, clueless sort that would
blindly train-hop because he recognized a pattern in his life.
He’s a quiet guy. He’s a quiet dresser. He’s calm now.
Emmett’s been from one yard on one side of the U.S.
to another yard clear across the country. You can punch
him out cold in the streets for next to no reason.
He will figure out standing, then thinking, then walking
again. You can steal his money or I.D. You can leave
him with nothing, but he’ll get on a train
and go figure it out. He’s always figuring it out.
From yard to yard, town to town, and face to face
he’s running alongside a car, timing his jump,
and climbing on to whatever it is that will take him
wherever it is he’s going.
Pontius and Judea
Pilate curls his fingers under water. He pulls his hands from the bowl and runs them slowly over his face and scalp. His dark hair has grayed and receded in a short time. He’s been made responsible for the Jews. He says to his wife “These people do not know when they have enough.”
They wait at the door of his home. They yell at all hours. He’s a beacon for their want.
Today, they will encroach on a command he has made, an execution of a rebel. A man that has no value for Rome, but for the example he will provide.
For now, he ignores the calls from the street. He lies on his bed and asks himself what it would take to rid the world of a religion so wrought with obstinance. The cool air moves over his face and he’s thankful for the chance to mindlessly sleep without a pounding on his door.
For the Birds
Pierre comes every Sunday,
he brings wheat that never matured. He grabs
baguettes from the trash. His family
dons sharp, dark clothing for Mass.
They wear frowns and think for one hour
how prostrate penitents will think forever.
Pierre’s church is the vacant beach. His prayers
are mumbled compliments to the birds about
how they look.. They squawk
and gang around him. He broadcasts green
grain. His fingers tear hunks off and he places
the bread near his feet. Wind off the ocean
mixes the grain with the sand. His crumbs
collect against a wall. Pierre is never dismayed
by the results of his work. The birds will not
think clearer or need bread less afterward,
but Pierre is steadfast in his nurture.
His wheat tossed against the breeze.
The town hears his laughter through the wind
like the bells clanging out a call to action.
And Not a Single Regret
Forty acres in clover and a path to the river,
the only turned patch of this field
overgrew years back. We’re always out here,
but we’re singing some noisy song
or making claims about the shapes of clouds.
Those warm breezes bringing us beneath tall grass
to watch the big sky and everything in it.
Since the world is more air than land,
we never took the dirt for a serious thing.
The only worn path goes from the backdoor
straight to the river. The only terrace
is the lines of men lying themselves down
on the hillside to watch the days float over.
Our noisy songs blown on to town
where they chuckle about a field full of clover.
The Pretty Girl’s Shoulder
When the pretty girl at Whole Foods steals,
she looks a little sexier. Her hair swims
over her toned shoulder.
When she farts in bed with another man,
I laugh at the story. The most inviting
humor is self-deprecating.
When the pretty girl from Whole Foods
and the story lies to get out of a ticket,
I’m witnessing the obvious
and attributing it to something else.
When the end of the world is coming
from the zombie apocalypse, the pretty girl
that got everything for free will cut
my achilles tendon and never once look
over her shoulder at the feast.
Call from Mom
I’m laughing and shifting my eyes around
for anything to look at.
She’s on the home phone
sitting in the living room.
We’ll talk like this
until there’s nothing left to chat about.
She leaves me with my short attention
to worthless distractions,
and I leave her with
a lot of something to tell no one.