When the Person Stays Dead

When the person stays dead,

you finally find time 

to deep clean the bathroom,

throw out all those promises

you almost made to God.

Afterwards, you climb the roof

and watch the stars go hunting.

Carnage chokes the sky and prayer

shoots shrieking over the edge

of the world, a river into the void.

Dawn threatens, savage with sparks

that unknot the flesh and the face

of God is a wandering home

where no one you know has been.

Way down by the water

the light still shivers offshore,

a little flame that leaps and flies

like an asteroid on the wind.

When the person stays dead,

then you know that God is a rebel

queen, with her back against the wall.

Poet Cemetery

Silver Rain dusts the bridge 

Moonlight’s beams of silk

Unwritten poems walk the rail 

An Unstable language 

Yesterdays breath 

Lingers above every arch

And sinking in every pit 

Budding between brown petals

Thirty-three names silenced by time 

Travelers who have forgotten their voice 

Strays in circles of timeless stone

Voiceless pages turn

Falling petals of the tongue’s age 

Bald grass and rotting wood 

Through these are dull points of pencils 

Still dancing in the breath of winter 

And Other Lies I’ve Told

I called grandma today,

said I needed the solace only

a woman can provide,

short of mother’s lectures.

Grandma was at home.

I called grandma today,

she was cooking, 

landline kissing the rim

of her soup pot. Marbled meat stumbling

upon soft produce, tangled in herbs

bathing in the milky base.

“your mother’s favorite”

but I already knew that.

I called grandma today,

she was missing our 

sweet faces, the cheeks that 

she gave us

and the dimples she didn’t. 

Those were from grandpa.

She didn’t say she will see me soon.

I called grandma today,

her voice matched the

silky way mother always described it,

her honey speech, words of

nectar running towards the 

point of my chin.

I wanted to be sweet like that.

I called grandma today,

we made plans 

for peanut butter brownies,

dipped toes in the glassy lake

and tales wrapped in gold.

I called grandma today knowing

my chances, slim 

like her figure in a

freshly floured apron

and yet

I called grandma today. Now she lives

in pages greased 

with butter kisses in round

spots of lakes

her body a cookbook 

bound together with stories

of a Detroit Christmas in

slanted cursive. My only 

source of her

carrot cake language.

I Think My House is Haunted

I can’t shake the spirit who 

envies my bones- 

a frame to claim as my own

rattling the broken screen

out back

guiding bitter fingers down my neck.

traces of dancing apparitions 

invitations to the ceremony 

of black dresses 

burnt orange petals, the hush 

of remembrance.

we pass 

tear-stained glasses on the roof

blushed spirits


our throats like a ghost,

And listen

to another funeral.

the cry of wind instruments

the cry of broken mothers

Sisters, friends

counting cars in procession and creating

a life 

for the dead. 

I know what it’s like 

to live beside

the cold breath

of a graveyard.

I watch Sunday burials 

with bitter black coffee




inch closer, blurring lines of living

seeking solace 

in the smoke that escapes

my lips in thick white ribbons, 

They tempt me to join them.

objects in mirror are closer than they appear

whiskey heartbeats 

and birds flying in patterns 

         xo, accept 

not all are flying south

midnight rivers

and warm misted skin 

your kisses chill the breeze 

of September 

highways are highways 

until you reach your exit 

then hills become mountains 

and rivers 

         are deep in between 

I can never wash the smell of September 

out of my hair 

and your whiskey lives on my lips 

as an after taste for when the missing

becomes too hard 

the birds go where they 

are called

and the sun sets on my skin 

that only sees you 

in the rearview


It will be the opposite of toil // the once-towed line that is now yours to draw // to define what has value // what will halve you // much like day from night // labor from leisure // from punch clocks to punch lines from those working the line // lunch lines in the corporate café // clock watching so as not to waste time on the timeline // the time sheets that need to be complete // accounting for hours // by the quarter // like a hoarder of time and profit // yet still not fit for the next rung //the one your brother said you should be gunning for // running for as if you were up for the vote // on the ballot // not some speculative write-in charlatan // work will not be this // it will not be just this toil of hands // head work intended to get you ahead // it will be eye work // mouth work // your words at work // your whole self // poured into something more than self-serving // a conviction of how time, more precious than profit, is spent // work is not the obligation you thought it was // told it was // sold it was // it is a decision // a vote // the only one you’ve got // the most consequential one you will cast.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN