Couch Conductor

This is the poem that changed my college major, my passion, and my future.

I was a weird child, but undeniably an imaginative child. This poem comes from one of my earliest memories of spending the night at my grandma’s house as a kid. 

Couch Conductor

Amber drips from the 60’s-style lamps
on two end tables.
Brassy-orange and bulbous,
they illuminate the tangled tracks.

The light spills onto the floor
like heavy freight abandoning its car.
It spawns the locomotive shadow
cast by my grandmother’s sunken-in couch.

I nestle myself snug between the pillows,
dense and flattened by years of Sundays.
Sundays that bring my father
close to his brother, not a brother at all.

I peer over the edge
and heave a hushed “all aboard.”
Grandma sleeps to unwind
the day’s knot of exhaustion.

Each bone-bleach white fiber frays
from the chemotherapy that robs
her gnarled hands of their strength.
This one-way ticket marks the end of a journey
of a once well-oiled machine.

The exhales of a CSX
spout its peppery breath out in opaque puffs.
I am a conductor, tearing the ticket
of tonight’s traveler.

Rising to my bare feet now,
I sink into the cushion like wet sand.
The train thrusts and in a single bound,
I leap from the ledge and leave my lone passenger.

The cars whir and hum alongside me.
Deafening metallic wind rusts the edge of the rug.
I’m still waiting for her return,
and in denial that it was her last train.

Floors

This poem is for a great man doing great things in a great city. It has been a pleasure getting to know him. Keep that ambition, boy. You wear it well.

Floors

August still catches in my head like that Manhattan melody
when he was my little vial of Novocaine.
when the moon showed her face and we slept on my floor
and our knees and hips and
shoulders—all the hinges of our bodies—washed with
a twilight of mauve and Bordeaux.
And one night he painted me with
two rows of clenched teeth—dipping in and out of white pools of Selene.
I have a bed now that he has left
with sheets that billow on the right side,
with real blankets that aren’t hospital blankets.
And he is my little vial of Novocaine
that took a train to states away. And the miles
between have left me with a weight in my chest that I’m sure fell from
his suitcase. I’ve got
bones made of buildings,
and a metropolitan heart,
and a steady smile
knowing this same moon hangs over him and that borough.

I’d like to share with you something I hold dear to my heart. As you may or may not know, I’ve been battling major depression disorder for over four years now. It is a crippling disease that isn’t noticeable by sight, but by listening. If you know someone dealing with depression of any kind, the best thing you can do aside from demonstrating support is to just listen to the person. I’m lucky to have the greatest handful of people in my life for support, and I really owe them the world. Now for the photo: This is a line from my favorite song written by a musician that doesn’t know how much he has helped me. He has proven to be a strong source of support for me through his music, as well as through the changes he has recently made in his life. He’s shown me that if you truly want to defeat the monsters in your life, be it depression or a reputation, you can do it. I want to beat this, and I will.

I’d like to share with you something I hold dear to my heart. As you may or may not know, I’ve been battling major depression disorder for over four years now. It is a crippling disease that isn’t noticeable by sight, but by listening. If you know someone dealing with depression of any kind, the best thing you can do aside from demonstrating support is to just listen to the person. I’m lucky to have the greatest handful of people in my life for support, and I really owe them the world. Now for the photo: This is a line from my favorite song written by a musician that doesn’t know how much he has helped me. He has proven to be a strong source of support for me through his music, as well as through the changes he has recently made in his life. He’s shown me that if you truly want to defeat the monsters in your life, be it depression or a reputation, you can do it. I want to beat this, and I will.

For Keeps

We can close the three-hundred and some odd mile gap

and stand silent for a second with our

                brainwashed gazes, glassy and glazed.

I’ll drive five hours to find the boy with the tired eyes—

the boy who made me promise.

                It’s for keeps.

We can spread a blanket and I’ll show you

the big and little dippers in the soil sky

                (they’re all I know how to find).

We can touch and whisper in a composition of exhales

and our two tongues that hide behind our four lips—

                yours that mask the gap I don’t mind,

                mine that I bite until purple and bleeding—

will drip with nectar, syrupy and saccharine,

and we can cup it in our half moon hands.

"I mean it this time"

I remember when I surveyed your bare shoulder blades
and the directions they tilted
as you raised your arms to light and puff and flick,
puff and flick,
and how I measured the distance between
right and left bones that peak and plateau separately,
but are linked by my favorite unapproachable spine.

Supplanter

She has thin lips that rarely touch—painted Merlot

and sheltering teeth—those perfectly aligned, white-spined novellas.

And when she speaks, her satin tongue presses out sweet breath

that will hang on your head like the daisy halos you made as a child.

Forgetting Tennessee

Wow, I haven’t posted in a long, long time. The semester is almost over, as are finals, so I’ll be updating much more often. This is the first of a series of short poems I’ve been working on. The formatting isn’t working, and I’m getting frustrated, so it’ll have to do without the indents. Thank you for reading!

For months after,

I tasted you in the flowered mug we took shots of Jim Beam out of—it went down like hot velvet.

I saw you in every sliver of my Grape Hyacinth eyes and constellations of freckles.

I’ve halved you into here and there—into miles of unwelcome blooms.

I decided to start making quick little videos of myself reading some of my works. Poetry needs to be heard just as much as it needs to be read. Thank you guys for all of your continued support, and I hope you enjoy.

Moulting

Like a snake unhinges its jaw—pink cheek exposed—

to something warm and whole, I unhinge you over and over and over again in my mind when I need to shed away every time I told you I would visit,

when I need to shed away that night we drank a cheap six pack in my tangle of blankets,

when I need to shed away the songs you wrote about blue eyes,

when I need to leave only the raw, scaly bits of you—the bits I scraped away at and made real, not the girl four hours away with the name I always mispronounce,

not the pieces she only barely notices when you leave her side, or the pieces you left for me to find, scattered on my windowsill.

I unhinge the moment your forked tongue first formed the words “I love you,”

the day I took pictures of you playing my guitar with the missing string—you said you didn’t need it anyway.

I think about the wrongs we righted when I slept in your car with your hand on my head, and I know I can’t come close to chewing our problems over, so I swallow them whole.

Watching A Person Breathe

Watching A Person Breathe is an original poem I began working on almost exactly one year ago. Since then, this poem has seen over thirty revisions to make up what you will read in its current state. While watching a movie in my best friend’s dorm room last year—three of us squeezed on one extra-long twin-sized bed—I realized I missed out on about ten minutes of the movie because I had zoned out on watching them breathe. Weird as it may sound, it was the fuel for this poem. I hope you enjoy reading, and thank you.

In sleep, the lungs balloon.

Air fills their walls and sacs where it can,

like saltwater waves cresting in inhales

and exhales.

 

They release and crash

as ribs slide tides of breath

shallow within the core,

where we cannot hear the volumes

of the waves that drift us about our nocturnal coma.

We drift so slowly

that we never feel how far from the shore

we have been taken, up and down.

 

Our chests, we have moved them

but elsewhere.

The ribs crack like driftwood

in the choppy current, and float

from the diaphragm of the Atlantic into

our chest cavities.

 

A twitch and a turn nearly wake us.

And then, in sleep too,

the pelagic breath returns. The lungs rise again.

Another swell sets in, pulmonary and oceanic.