continue shaking the bottle. the misplaced lid struggles to keep up with the slapstick pressure of her blistered right palm. the granules refuse to dissolve, and they team up to form an island, patchwork nation where flora and fauna write well-intentioned law. find a sunlit space. a loved one tells her to close her eyes and wave at the scowling men whose lawns hiss below. stirring her coffee with an off-white straw, she walks along broken lines, kicking the rocks whose tips have gone dry and sharp, initials like kohl. stretch across the pavement. her dog is smiling shyly like nurses at humid dawn who gently touch the shoulders of those who dodged the fire. the men stand upright and demand an explanation for her lateral complacence, young chapped lips in no way pursed as noon burns like lye. continue to sip and shine.
I could not provide an answer,
nor could I gesticulate
as my veins curled similarly
to roundworms in cats’ rejection.
murmured the name of the medical scribe
but I stared at the doctor, pale
as the white coat I already sullied
with my lower middle class and ignorance.
flickering, the ceiling insulted the charity bed
that funds the frostbitten—frequent fliers
I could hear miles away,
for the morphine disappointed like decaf.
I wouldn’t return to work,
and that is what I wanted
but only in those hours
when I felt I did no good.
there was no pillow to clutch
and I had worn down all my brushes
used to glue together a quiet collage
of words in Helvetica you never meant.
I do not wish to taste
wet saltines of an awkward love
but I managed to sleep on thumbtacks
for a boy who had no time.
Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12.
that a lick from a dog
is worth far less
than a cat’s slow wink.
before the dog’s eyes,
you sit, blemishes
airbrushed through grain
and accepted, like undone ribbons
of VHS cassettes, their tops
glistening like cured resin on tile
one finds on tables yielding meat
that any girl may offer for trust.
eventually, you will admit
that this dog is just one
of the five that kissed your hand
and the few warming up to your meal.
it will tell you
in rhythmic nudges
that people are not interesting,
though that one Saturday
introductions played their tricks
as the dog continued to ask
how you could just walk
so ignorant of your depth.
you committed no wrong
as the dog moved quickly,
perhaps in a two-hour span
to yet another slice cooked medium rare.
Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12.
I. the couple afar
you must admit, you do not
possibly know of
the tyrannical screaming
that has brought their walls to sand.
II. and you still persist
in these monologues, postgrads
bringing you to shame
for causes you can’t place one
thumb upon; likely, a sketch.
III. girl from that first job,
the one who dated your first,
a reed-like ideal
you had long sought to fulfill
with Vitamin C tablets.
IV. an odd fixation
your friend attributes to the
cycles of rage, blind rainstorms
emergency lights shone through.
V. he has left you, then
so surely the effort was
a waste in methods,
years snuck away, and never
did you grace Vogue’s bold pages.
VI. medias rojas.
I wear these to look pretty.
my mother slaps me
though unlike Claudio, she
peddles my song, not my rose.
VII. fantastic Lauren
has been the blessed, to earn
four years of study
while Mother will always break
what liberal arts relieves.
VIII. my shaking, my throat
the pipe where toads so madly
screech, an anthem to
critics and teachers alike,
tests I could fail for decades.
IX. gardenias fly,
reminders of your placid
a vegetative movie
lacking captions to explain.
X. I rid myself of
mediums that aggravate,
infect this bandaged
open wound where gangrene speaks
slowly, nothing true to say.
XI. he turns to face me
and asks with authority,
“What if all you’ve told
yourself are Benjamins, fake?”
well, I guess I won’t spend them.
XII. but the illusion,
I suppose, can tempt young girls
into keeping them.
fragilities, in the end,
moan cautiously—dreams unchanged.
In 2015, I originally wrote a 750-word draft of a piece that is now quite dear to me. It is titled, “Forever, the Little Girl,” and after several rounds of additions and subtractions, this story has found its home in Burning House Press. Prolific poet Bola Opaleke serves as January’s editor, compiling works that illustrate faith, faithlessness, and/or divinity. Immense thanks goes to Bola for his consideration and acceptance of my work.
You can read the piece here. Thanks to BHP, I’ve grown more acquainted with experimental writers, and I’ve enjoyed encountering all sorts of life that sprout from the journal’s monthly themes. Give the journal a look, and have as good a time as the relaxing walnut photographed above.
say hello to the girl at the
she grabs the brand of milk
you use :: all-time favorite
frosted wheaties soaking in
a chilled bowl of soy.
you are the boy, avoided.
the aisle persists in its
wide declaration – your
footprints following sighs
and the ragged breathing
one only hears when
the other has stumbled.
she never truly forgot
and regulars could attest
to loud discontent
locked in bent cans
rolling down, down –
metal rods clanging
on new glass.
the lids disappeared.
regardless, you both
spend every Friday
racing to the corner, a
lopsided box with
creased flaps, eyelids
reproached for looking
ahead and away.
shopping carts collide
and curse in light rainfall.
Cat No. 121 of the 500 Cats Project
you promised me letters and yes,
they were delivered.
so much meaning to a girl who
never had a birthday party, as
birthdays near Christmas bring
enough cheer as they come to
recover snowflakes’ edges so
rounded and spliced within life.
you had a point when you said
I could use a spine, and not the
kind between glossy covers with
cherry blossoms, peaches, the
hope that graced my evenings
before you came home to speak
of yet another disappointment
that could only emerge from my
off-white inexperience, marred
further by old crayons I still hide
beneath my almost-bed, these
almost-goals refusing to say they
are done with me, my failures in
following through with plans that
look so pretty on the porous face
of “Thank You” cards I wanted to
send, and for some reason, I did
feel that I owed you one, as well
as the signature that no one could
read in high school; they told me
to re-write it, or simply provide my
initials because we weren’t signing
anything the President reads, just
like I would be folding your grayed
boxers dusting every inch of some
up-to-date gadgetry you felt you
were entitled to, as entitled as men
should be to that perfect woman
I was, wasn’t, but could be if I only
took it easy on that small bright pint
of cookie dough ice cream, and all
the sugar I thought would stay, atop
my tongue that welcomed and asked
you to stay because you said I was
different, and I thought that this alone
was enough to fall asleep, a grin so
wide and hands enjoying the calm
of two admired breasts, awaiting an
admission of your follies and a pledge
to be yourself, to do away with deeds
you’d only distrust as an obligation.
I tore up each and every letter today,
realizing I’ve had enough time.
there was once a time when I thought hazelnut
truffles fell from the sky, and I asked in the
middle of downtown morning traffic.
who am I to even mention traffic? I haven’t
had a car in years.
it’s an ethics thing for me, like not wearing
wooden square-bead bracelets showcasing
saints striking ten different poses. don’t
press the gas if you can’t turn the wheel.
and don’t start conversations about certain
people who’ve received the same amount of
confidence you’ve placed in your sad self.
I watched a documentary on husbands who
can’t feel. They mumbled their vows as
their mothers cried, like the brides would in
several months. occasionally, I stare at the
ceiling, crumpling napkins in colorless fists.
I wonder if I’m anything like these men, if
I’ve ever really wanted anyone.
undoubtedly, I’ve always envied the act of
being, but I’ve never met someone who
taught this. pedagogy is a loaded word
long hallowed by some who can’t order fries
without leaving behind some slap-worthy smirk.
the hazelnut truffles rest on my countertop
that begs for Clorox, just as my eyelids
calmly give up their strained resolve.
she ate crème brûlée with the bluntest fork.
this afternoon, her first time.
she wanted to tell the world and its
mother that she finally knew what
she had missed, what she had feared,
and all she could only read about
between walls so thin like the red worn
by crisp, dainty apples washed with joy.
morning is rarely missed, returning too soon
with birds in the middle of gossip’s fifth round
piercing the lightest blue, and she’ll learn to
make some for herself, plastic spoons aplenty
as the clock does stand oh so wonderfully still.
it was never too late for the girl
who shook and cried after an unbroken fall.
Cat No. 109 of the 500 Cats Project