When I Die

I want my ashes thrown in the face of my worst enemy.

“Sometimes I don’t like you,” she says.

No, I’m serious. I’ll make it conditional
if you want to inherit my estate.

“Or I won’t get to inherit debt and a few thousand books?”

Alright, then harvest my organs, give them
to whoever needs them, stuff me full
of explosives and shove me out of a plane, over
the capitol building while congress is in full session.

“Ass,” she says.

You could stuff me. Not with explosives. Dress me
in a tuxedo, put a high ball
glass in my hand and, fine, fuck it, never mind.

She shakes her head silently as she taps at the keys of her laptop, her face a pale canvas.

I suppose, if you want, you could cremate me and take me
to Morro Bay, just at sunrise
when seawater and sky embrace and look
out over the rock and three fingers
just like we do. Scatter my memory
where my memories are sweetest, where gulls cry
the salt breeze will carry me away. And when
you’re there you can breathe deep, take me inside
and remember my love for you.

Her face twists and the tears begin and I don’t even have the strength to lift my hand and wipe them from her eyes.

I mean, if you absolutely refuse to throw
my ashes in the face of my worst enemy.

The promise of a halfhearted smile fumbles its way through the tears.

“Ass.”

 

* Originally Published by Aardvark Press, which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be shutting down in the very near future.

Posted in Poetry

Multiverse

The double-pronged death razor, otherwise known
as the fucking plug to my wife’s curling iron, sits
on the off-white tile, an evil little bastard waiting
on its natural prey, hiding on the midnight floor.
Its teeth sink in the soft arch of my foot and, holding
back a scream, I kick it out of the way, which causes me
to stumble back into the tub. I reach out and I feel
the familiar shudder of          fractured

reality

as my palm hits the pink tile wall.

In one, I step on the plug and scream
as loud as I want to
and when my wife asks what’s wrong I tell her
she’s a fucking child who can’t
pick up her fucking toys.
I hobble after her as she, a bag of clothes,
and the dog
back out of our driveway.

In another, I kick the plug
and fall back into the tub. She runs in and sees me
a broken, screaming sculptor’s mannequin
and the guilt
crushes her. I hold that guilt
like a cleaver
hacking away
small pieces of her
one argument at a time, swinging wildly
in a constant threat that keeps her from the door.

Back

in this reality,

I grab hold of my foot and my temper and I wrap it
in the gauze I’ve learned I need to keep on hand.
As I clean the yellowing blood, I wonder:
In how many of the universes born of my childish anger
have I squandered love?

In bed, I stare at the ceiling instead of sleeping,
and I wonder: How many universes
do we get to create? And what happens
when we run out?

 

* Originally Published by Aardvark Press, which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be shutting down in the very near future.

Posted in Poetry

Mirror Image

Jimmy looks in the mirror and sees the sweat
beading on his Eye Black. He feels the guardian
embrace of his shoulder pads. His breath fogs
in the bright, night air, his heart nearly
kicked through his chest in the last seconds
of the playoff game, the chanting crowd all but
lost in his drumming taiko-pulse. He remembers
rolling on screaming shoulders, the cheap vodka’s
medicinal burn as Screwdrivers are funneled
down his throat, and the sweaty, awkward
bliss of a backseat and victory.

Naomi looks in the mirror and sees her promise
ring, its undying sparkle refracting ghost light
across decades. She recalls the dizzy warmth
of the bonfire and the peach schnapps. She remembers
the blood-orange sunrise stretching out
over the beach, taking the salt air
into her, refusing to let the day end.

The middle-aged child-abuse survivor
looks in the mirror and sees a middle-aged
child-abuse survivor. Every memory
a child, sitting silent on a wide branch
of a tall tree, shutting out the rage and the threats,
eyeballs to kneecaps, hands clasped tight
over ears, rocking back and forth.

 

* Originally Published by Aardvark Press, which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be shutting down in the very near future.

Posted in Poetry

Dying (Again)

He’s been here before, but he’s never

called for me. The effort required
to sit up in bed, almost
sounds like he’s making love.

It’s a fucked up way to go dude.
Fuckers in here so busy taking
care of you, you can’t sleep
more than five fuckin’ minutes
.

His emaciated arm, a highway map
of IV tubes and scar tissue,
reaches up, waving me
down. I kneel next to his bed
and his hand, a bony vice,
latches onto my shoulder
so hard I’ll never feel him let go.

I want you to get on my computer
at home
. I got thirty years
of writing on there, music,
lyrics, stories
. I want you to
take it
. Read it. Some of it’s
pretty fuckin’ good
.

His hand has clutched my shoulder
in the past, when telling me True Things,
Important Things. But it’s never hurt.
His blue, bloodshot eyes
burn into me, his breath coming
in rattled gasps, he tells me, listen.
Delete my browser history.

 

* Originally Published by Aardvark Press, which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be shutting down in the very near future.

Posted in Poetry

wallowing in your ghost

that first night without you, i couldn’t
deal with the cold so i put on
the sweater you claimed as yours
when we were younger. i wasn’t ready
for the perfume of your body
and the loneliness kicked in and as i sank
in our couch, i pulled you over
my head, wallowing in your ghost.

i wore the sweater for a year
but it smells like me now, no longer
a relic.
the cold outside is sharp
but vital, and the cherry trees
are in bloom, so i’m leaving it by the door.

 

* Originally Published by Aardvark Press, which, I’ve been reliably informed, will be shutting down in the very near future.

Posted in Poetry

Wisdom

Nothing creates rage on the internet like sincerely enjoying something. That drives people up the fuckin’ wall. — Patton Oswalt

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