Tonight I called my mother a failure.
It is then that I realize that poems
cannot contain whole memories or relationships.

Only that it reminds me that tonight
is also the night I was struck by a
drunk driver on my college campus
my sophomore year.

How Leah Foreman, my drunk driver, haunts me
more than my mothers credit card debt. In writing
these lines it is now that I find utter terror
when my bank account reflects 0.01 cents
and utter joy when it reflects -2,148.66 dollars.

I want to give up like my mother has
and give 35 years of my life
to Kart Foods. How they will fire me before
I can claim pension.

And because you only mute the television,

I want to give up like my father has
and never love anyone after the suicide of
my first and only son. How for over a decade
I have banished myself to sleeping on the couch as punishment.
I will never feel the warmth of another person.

How I wonder
and chuckle
and think
that just maybe
Leah Foreman
given up.



A mouse made its
into my room yesterday.
It’s still here.
I’m watching it watch me.
I guess I deserve this.
All of it.

The ants on the plate.
The possum in the attic.
The fleas on both of my cats.
The spiders in all the nooks and crannies. 
The gnats in the kitchen.
The mold moving at a glaciers speed in the grout. 

The sickness in my frontal lobe. Or
maybe in another undiscovered region.
I want to give up, but haven’t. 
I’ll get up and catch the mouse today.



You left the oven on.

So when I came home
I knew something was
wrong. It was too warm.
Too nice.

It’s winter in Chicago.
And this just doesn’t
feel right.

My co-worker at
the grocery store said
it was a sign. There
is no spark. And
somehow the chicken
was still cold in the center.



You keep diagnosing yourself with articles
that you read on social media. It’s anxiety
because of your out-going personality. It’s trauma
from your days as a victim in the third grade. A bully
named Jimmy. How he only pushed you in the mud.
It ruined your favorite coat. I’m over it.
I want you to be over it. Unfollow
the whole damn thing.

We’re not in love
because I tell you to your face.
But you cannot fathom emotions
without the use of emojis. 

You’re stunned in silence. Phone
still in hand. I see it. I watch you
as you watch yourself. The true pull
to not glance over at the screen.

You falter.
You fail.

And you’re not worth it.

Because I want love. The kind
you can’t read about on social media. I’ll
unfriend you, because I know you can’t
unfriend me.



I like the way you chop garlic.

How your yoga fingers hold
each clove where tiny sweat-droplets
escape with each smooth slice.

Aromas in-between my teeth. My tongue
swells. You smile bigger. I tap my plate
for more.

As you bend over to grab my plate
there is a man sitting alone in the cafe drinking
orange juice in the background of my nearer
and nearer impending break-up with you.

By the time he has finished drinking the sun
you have split the last remaining clove.
Our bread split too.

And I remember thinking
that there is a word for this.


Dating A Poet

Dating a poet is a borrowed book.
And it’s his book. With his name.

It’s a complied list of micro fiction
whispered into a collarbone. Hoping
that condensed conversation will heal
the fracture.

And it’s a spine–
a lanky alignment breaking at the arch,
forming sky breaking ribs,
breathing harder and softer, softer till silence &
elbows still digging into a collage mattress.

It’s socks kicked off and
helix hair gliding off the shoulder. &
watching it fall together.

It’s tracing my hip. &
tugging on each others belt loops. It’s a graceful lowering.

But it’s something never intended &
our pair of lips only part at the sound of a phone
vibrating & it’s louder than our
sucks and slurs.

Louder than my desire to stay. Louder than wanting to turn
your sweatshirt strings in my fist & to tongue your gap.

It’s my humiliating longing for expectatings– &
for poems titled with our name– even if it’s something
generic like   ssa, S     a, or  a       .


& when I drove my car into the driveway I didn't get out for a long while.

Written in the Fall of 2009

And I knew my father would hear my sputtering 95’ Subaru
breaking to a stop, because he sleeps on the couch,
and whenever something was happening outside
he would be that neighbor pulling back
the pillow case that covers the front door window and peer out.
But tonight he didn’t, so I sat there longer.

& I tapped on the steering wheel remembering
that it was during dinner that you threw your plate on the wall
because mother mentioned that it is winter and that our house is cold.

But our roof is shit and we have possums crashing in through the attic. And it is
funny because you are a roofer.
And after I refuse to leave in this weather, you slap me and force me through the door anyway.

But before I could leave, I have to shovel the driveway. And there you are—
watching through the pillow case.

& I took my time driving,
before ending on Dundee Road at Walgreens
where I purchased your Marlboro Menthol 100 Lights.
I told the cashier “For my brother.” But I have no brother anymore—
just his old room and just this singular overpriced item that is double bagged.

But here I am, inhaling your fumes, because my window is frozen
and the ash tray is full of your crushed filters.
I key the door, because the porch light is broken as well.
Now it’s past 3 am and you will be awake in an hour to go to work.

& when I enter
there you are, sleeping—
with the television on.
And because you’re my father and I love you
I take your glasses off
and place them next to your ashtray.


In Which I Find Myself Reeling Outside of Independence, Iowa

I work at Petland.

In the fish department I am sitting high up on a ladder aqua-scaping.
It is only kind of movie sad for I want to melt my whole arm,
but only up to the sleeve,
far beyond the knowings of surface tension.
It is only satisfying to know that I will make very little mess
while rearranging the sunken ruins
of Colosseum’s and plastic pirate ships.
As I move from tank to tank,
I am unbattle torn like a gladiator or a Magellan.
Yet, I just want to be those things inside of tanks and
dip my whole being down beneath the substrate.
A sand bed where I could be buried by the weight
of supposedly life healing water.
And if I had gills too, I’d breathe another dollar
that I owe to ‘the man.’ The hand that feeds me flakes
of other ground up dream meal.
There would be a child poking my glass shouting
why I wasn’t moving fast enough.
I am a piece of substrate sinking deeper and deeper.
Find me in the back.

I work at Petland.



Yesterday I found a word
that rhymed with orange. But
I’m not going to tell you the
word that rhymes with orange.

You’ll have to guess and count
on all ten fingers, toes too, the word that
rhymes with orange. All I know is

that it is an ancient word. Ancient beyond
Mayans and civilizations before those Mayans. It may
have been my teacher or my neighbor or a movie
that told me that we have forgotten
others words too. We have forgotten the words
that rhyme with the words that we have forgotten.

Or we may have just forgotten
their true meaning– beyond any knowingness. Perhaps
we forgot about the people too. The people who made up those words.
The person who made up the word that rhymes with orange.
Forgot the very details about how to

grow our own food. I didn’t know
where an orange even came from
until the eight grade. I didn’t find them in trees,
but in test tubes and centrifuges.

The word that rhymes with orange sounds heavy.
Squishy sometimes. With a slight leap in the middle.
It sounds slow.
And somehow sad.
But nobody can tell me why oranges come from test tubes.

Yesterday I found a word
that rhymes with orange. But
I’m not going to tell you the
word that rhymes with orange. Because
you’ll just forget.