Despite black background, the weight of shadows
pressed heavily against this unguarded
underarm, though it’s entrenched between chest
and shoulder blade, and though it’s speckled with dark
curls of fur, there is light in this rough trade,
sniffed out by Cerberus’ three snouts. Heads
will turn when triceps flex and unfold flesh
like earth dug open by spades. We are one
bodied but separate—I am the pit
snuffed by tongues of flame, lit and licked by both
of you—rib cage and bulging bicep, balled
between; ribald in that every dirty
crevice leads to me. My airs have been sent.
I am seeded, sordid as it may be.
Bush that strangles underbrush,
boarding out illumination.
Its honey-suckled drawl squanders the fruitful rich nutrients
by cultish rootsystems.
It stifles its deciduous competition like a political primary victor.
It grows dense quite quick.
Its reach terrorizes by birds
bombing berried excrement.
It is fatherly and branching out from the north,
greedy carpetbagger with airforce, unruly.
Bygone the conciliatory, migratory, trajectory of history
as it has amassed, and explodes past sovereign borders.
The sandplains’ grit even succumbs to its grip,
tortured by whipwinds like a flag at full mast.
It empties its chemicals on the loam, strategizing;
it must make room for the familial.
It annexes vaster, right to the left, its axis of leaves divided
perfectly opposite. Plant conserving for dynastic hedgerows.
It surrounds and crowds itself, a plenitude of pledges, all yeses
vying for the coined light that trickles down,
held aloft by hollow stems and followers
that sprout, resisting shear corrections.
a blackout from The Nightmare Before Christmas script
In our town with the tear-away face,
the wind brims banshee cackling, made walls
fall and flesh fury. It’s a phase, it’ll
pass. Now, switches knock with desperation—
bark barks; what’s this color in the air?
The streets are lined with building bones; they’re
gathering mausoleums, opened
sarcophagi. There’s something here
like a vulture in the sky. The door
is open, but what does it mean? There’s
so many things, bric-a-brac, I can—
not see. A cannon answers smithereens.
I’d get out of town, but smoke and fire
filled with red, the trim white; there’s trouble
close at hand; I’m drowning in silhouette,
a dark blot. We can’t take off in this!
Ashes, dust, snake eyes; bye-bye sandman.
Isn’t it American
for mad African
jive buzzing to swarm
the lily lexicon? Warn
an exterminator at Animal Control,
be you bee-droll
grammatical sticklers tut-tutting
‘infestations’ behind screen doors.
Wonder what the cross-pollinated, cross-
bred jungle-hive holds unsaid?
The dance that led, the fly, the runny
ception of cold killers. You gun
for migration, the absconded,
that white fright always responds
with, tight-lipped. Then defend
mother-fuckin’ unfortunate trends,
lives short-lived, irreversible
damage. One sect’s slaughter
is another’s rich usurpation
in fashionable accents. An altercation
to an irritable ear strums from aggressive
vibrations on black backs. Very impressive
to have jelly, to have one chance to sting,
to fling oneself forward and bring.
received his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. Previous work of his has appeared in Court Green, Assaracus, Interrobang, and various other publications. He lives in Chicago, IL, with his spouse, and their adopted dog, Pongo.