When I make my monthly phone call to my grandmother,
I always have mic’d earbuds plugged into my phone
and something else running in the back of my head.
Normally I call when I’m making dinner,
when my repetitive chopping of yellow onions and green peppers
matches the repetition of her day-in and day-out…
In the waterlands where I was raised,
we were groomed to assume this unspoken rule
of You speak when spoken to.
Deference was paid in increments of silence.
We showed respect for our wisers and elders
by not bothering them with our childish trifles.
At the dinner table,
the men spoke while the women cooked.
And she leans over to me and whispers
“I don’t really like your professional self.
It’s not you, or at least not the you that I love.”
She’s pushed hard for me to be real before,
But any time since that confession,
Her voice has echoed brass in my head
Whenever my instinct to…
Earlier today I was punched by an unborn baby,
and it was one of the weirdest feelings of my life.
There were two crammed inside my short cousin’s watermelon belly,
and after palming her bursting waist for a quarter-hour –
their mother gently poking them where their little butts might have been…
I woke up this morning beside my girlfriend’s nearly-naked body,
Slipped on my slippers,
And took a piss,
just like I do every morning I wake up.
My mind wandered, as it often does when I’m relieving myself,
And remembered that today was to bring certain doom from the cosmos.
Fire, brimstone, meteors,…
Tonight I semi-sleep with head on hands on knees
at the top of a worn, faux-marble staircase.
I choose this spot because of the protection it affords
from the slumbering hobos in the windowsills,
the wandering Polish cowboy with a limp,
and the cold that still draws the life from my wet toes.
(The following is a poetically-edited excerpt from an ongoing email thread with one of my best friends from high school. He is gay, but has only revealed this to select people from back home.)
“Sexuality is a strange but simple thing
our society feels the need to over-complicate.
We’re compelled to slap…
Every morning I drive to work,
I pass under this ominous, brown, digital sign
with boxy, orange lettering on the interstate.
From its scaffolded metal podium hanging high above the road,
it orates to the masses,
“Tennessee Roadway Fatalities,”
coupled with the most current figure
and a polite plead for every driver to operate safely
The men in my family don’t have a good history for many things.
We’re prone to baldness, allergies, bad backs,
smoking, drinking, gambling,
cancer, diabetes, and heart attacks.
But, hot damn, do we clean up well.
Give us 30 minutes and watch as
Sweat-soaked shirts and sun-beaten beards
Evolve into coats and ties coupled with defined…