Five Poems for Miguel

My good friend & Virginia-based artist Miguel Carter-Fisher challenged me to post five pieces for five days. Naturally, I'm late. So here's all five, all of which will appear in an up-coming collection.


Six Month Coin

It's true. Happiness
would come to me through
a syringe, sprinkler

    of light into my arm,
    savoring each drop
    like melted black honey

    by a blue Bic flame.
            With it—I was a boy again
                        laying on my lawn neck & arms
                                scratchy from the wet grass beneath it
                                        what troubles I had
                                                    would be as far as
                                                           the summer sun
          light turned to fire;
    A-bomb of mourning
spilled into my eyes

—burnt vinegar smell,
arms pocked with rust
& my troubles waiting

for that first blue flame
of memory. Food?
Black coffee will do,

    thanks. This morning I had
    a Moonpie—haven't
    had one in six months.

    Sinking my teeth through
                the soft chocolate coatin' the crisp flaky
                            wafer squeezing the cream filling out
                                    with my fingers cardboard &
                                                wrappers lay around me like confetti
                                    on the linoleum floor

                    That's when I was a…
                                    Silly to mention
        it, never mind. Those
    days are long behind

me. What time is it?
I should go, feel sick.
Might go lay down

            in the grass



to Jenny Masterson

Rustling through a pile of organic Fruit Roll-ups
                 & outlet adapters, you debate

              how many make up brushes to cram
      into the suitcase,

            the scale needle crawling closer
          to 50lbs.

In a sonic boom of memory                 you thrust across the room,
     grabbing our New Years photo strip.

This is essential, you say,
             placing it atop early birthday cards

before mushing your apple cheeks
            into my beard.

As you are bound for rolling
            foothills, fresh olive oil & wine,

 I lay in moonlight
            listening to the second hand

        tick, each a mile

            you go,
& my mind packs its own essentials:

    tucks your black coconut perfume
            under my nose,

    wraps your cold feet a
            round my legs,

     between my ear and pillow
            your voice saying, This is essential.


Tardigrade Black

    You eyeless bear
                            You crawl between the grooves of my fingertip
                                        as easily
                    against the sun's boiling
            Your wrought iron skin
                                    proves flannel
                where my skin would crack
                                    as ice
        Yet for you our world
                        is a doll's eye, black
                like my pupils
                              the black chapped cracks
                       in my mother's hands
            my father's once black hair turned gray
                                        the black around grandpa's eyes
                                                                    the last time

                    Do you also tire, Tardigrade

            ­—has time ever crawled through your fingertips
                                                        as easily?


Mother, Ship Wreck


over the sink