The Death of Leaves

I saw myself watching the yellow-red leaves
when they fell from the trees. It was so beautiful
with the neony sun-glow passing through its
membranes as it flickered and fell through the
windy licks of the air’s idling turbulence.

Then I became a leaf, and I saw genocide.
It was frantic and murder in the chilling air
and I saw a fleshy monster grinning an awful
terrible grin and I felt a hate of such unbound
potency that I was stripped away myself.

I blinked back into my own head as my body
hit the ground. I had wanted this—I had
anticipated it with eagerness and thick saliva
breeding behind my teeth. I wanted
so desperately to go home.

Neptune

I always hated the water. When I was young, I would run along the beach, stepping as close as I could to the breaking waves without letting them catch my toes. Something about the fear, I found enticing, exciting. When the sea-foam got so close, it almost felt like a hand would reach out and grab you. Snatch you into the blue, letting the rip currents do the rest.

When I was ten years old, we moved away from the sea, inland, where the waves would never touch me, nor I the waves. We lived in a rural area, mostly farmland, aside from the small town over the railroads, where the schoolhouse was. I would walk to school (it was only twenty minutes or so, and I enjoyed the privacy). I enjoyed running my fingers along the edges of the corn fields, letting the stalks brush by, shaking off the dust that had settled on them. Each year, when the harvest came, the plants would all seem so naked, and I too felt exposed. It was as if, without the walls of crop, my thoughts were open for anyone to see.

The nakedness would leave me feeling restless and despondent, and, in those days, I would wait by the train tracks after school until a train came, and I would run alongside it as fast as I could, trying to pull ahead. Unlike the waves though, the trains always won, and it would leave me feeling still restless, but now too tired to do anything about that restlessness.

By the time I was twelve, I had made a few close friends, who joined me by the tracks when the season came. Some days, we would just sit and let the wind of the trains buffet against us like it did the bare fields. Other days though, the eerie hum of the galloping train over the tracks inspired in us some mischief. We would conspire against one of our friends to all jump across the tracks at the last moment, leaving the other alone on the other side of the train. On the days when it was my turn to be left, I would be reminded of the waves, stealing the shells that would wash up, leaving me dancing around its skirted edges.

One day, like so many others, we poked along the rails in the mid-November chill. We were going to trick the little brother of one of my friends, who had come with us that day. Hearing the familiar hum of the tracks, we looked at one another, making sure we were all ready. Then, when we sensed the train coming near, we darted across to the other side.

The train was passing now, and we laughed, thinking how confused he must be, on the other side. After the few minutes it took for the train to pass, we stood looking at a vacant field. His older brother, suddenly worried, shouted his name to no response. Instructing us to split up and search for him, I headed further down the tracks. It wasn’t long before I found his size-two, mangled, left sneaker. Looking up from the shoe, silent, I saw that fated pile of cloth and body, torn and strangled, two-hundred feet further down the tracks.

He did not know the rails like we did, and he had tried to follow us. Stepping across, his foot caught in the old, splintered wood, and he fell. By the time we had turned around, the train was passing, and he was passed. The train had carried him several hundred feet down the tracks, before spitting him out.

That was ten years ago. Now, I’m sitting in the sand, by my old home. The water runs through my toes.

Skeleton Key

I found a skeleton key underneath some papers
in an attic-dusted trunk. The papers were yellowed
and creased, and the key held the image of a dove in
its bow. I thought of a magician, draped in a long
coat, producing doves at the fingertips. I chuckled
morbidly at the thought, that this peace symbol
is so easily manipulated; then looking back into
his eyes, I saw a knowing sadness and realized
with a weight that this was no coincidence at all.

Driftwood

I saw driftwood wash on the beach.
Sitting for twenty minutes, I thought
deeply, trying to figure its significance.
And twenty minutes went by, and all
I could see was this wooden wood.

It was dripping with water, which
looked like water. I began to feel
very sad, for surely everything must
mean something to someone, but
this wood just looked like wet wood.

Thirty minutes had passed now,
with this rumbly anxiousness in my
wooden skull, when the waves swept
in and stole this wood from me. Now
I felt very angry, sat in it all. I wanted

to throw a stone at the water, out of
spite, I wanted to yell at the mean water,
who stole my driftwood like my heart.
Then, I sat for minutes more, thinking
instead of myself, who had just claimed

this dirty wood log as my own body.
But this driftwood was not my heart,
nor was my heart made of driftwood.
My heart is soft and pink and fleshy
and full of blood, like the ocean.

Milk and Honey

Bleeding and aching,
coiled in bed,
you counted my freckles
like tiles on the ceiling.
Lit wicks of a candle
dripping hot wax
into your fresh, open hands.
I followed my jealousy
to the door of your closet
and sheltered myself from the rain.
Take love with sugar, or
Take love with salt.
If there’s anything to learn,
love’s not your fault.

Like Silence

I held your shoulder while you were asleep.
I swear a voice from behind me
spoke lucid and real “remember to hold her,
to joy with her laugh,
to speak lullabies to her tears.
This life is not yours to keep.”
So now I mold my body around yours,
to never forget the shape.
I keep journals to record the melodies of your dreaming breaths:
the last entry says your heat was like
a river, your heart like a rhythm, your
twitching nose like the final
beat of a hummingbird’s wings before
it lays in its nest.
Your eyes fluttered open like the sun.
My fears lifted with your hand,
like silence.

I Feel Splotchy

I feel splotchy.
Like one-hundred different puzzle pieces
from one-hundred different puzzles,
open ends stretching for another.
We fit together okay,
but our picture is a messy one.

My arm is a branch
with birds for leaves.
My bathroom-tile skin
littered with graffiti,
chafes against
my lighthouse leg
in a Kintsugi shoe.

At night, when I sleep or pretend,
little bugs gnaw on me
and spin their memory thread
through the notches of my railroad spine,
between my scissor fingers
and pipe-cleaner toes.

We get along.

Honolulu Queen

I was given flowers
after the death of her.
They stumped on the desk
drinking each day. By
day three, their love-purple
tint was dwindled, and the
littler leaves drooped softly.

Hunched over, much like she,
in the weeks before her death.
Slumped in her bed, that
un-godly bump on her head,
she grew pale. And sad.

Those little leaves now
are brown. The colors
all white-washed, freckles
of mold dot the creases of
her pedals. Hungover eyelids,
catheter stem from her abdomen
trails blood like blood.

Was it a motivation to
let me watch her die again?
To see her clammy face in
the coiled roses, sad and mute?
What dumb compensation.

The Bonnie Earl O’ Moray

It was Tuesday morning when gravity stopped working. Not for any reason in particular; it just seemed to work out that way. School kids were at school. Workers were working. Parents were parenting. Teachers were teaching. People first noticed that something had changed about three feet above the floor. Albeit, there were a few whose experiences were a bit more queer: Grandma Josie, for example, awoke from her morning nap on the ceiling and to the sight of her living room furniture scattered across three dimensions. Some were not quite so fortunate as Grandma Josie. Poor Reggie Willard happened to be at the gym, and in that very moment he was squatted with a bar over his back; as gravity was switched off, his muscles tensed, but were met with surprisingly little resistance. Reggie launched from the floor, the bar rocketing above him, and died instantly upon the high-speed impact of his cranium with the metal beam.

Sandy Mills was walking her dog when she found the both of them drifting upwards — rather, away from the earth — along with the atmosphere. People watched from the windows of buildings, as she drifted up, slowly gaining speed. It seemed she hardly noticed. Cars, shopping carts, and Susan’s missing cat rose away from the earth, no longer tethered to the soil.

Little Amanda, on the other hand, was having the time of her life. At home in her bedroom, toy rockets were bouncing off of walls; the pillow monster was weakening; soft, white blood streamed from its fatal wounds creating great, swirling clouds of former fowl.

Oceans, rather quickly, were turned to immense fields of aquatic orbs gently moving away from the earth, along with the sky. Animals reliant on such substances for

breathing, unfortunately, met their fate rather abruptly. Coffee, prepared for a Tuesday, rose slowly out of the mug, burning Keith’s unsuspecting hand before dispersing in a similar fashion to Jonny’s asteroid field of marbles when he swam through it.

At the news station, anchors frantically launched themselves in various trajectories through the paper that littered the air, in search for their scripts. John Wayne moved only his eyes as they followed the syringe fluttering around the execution chair to which he was strapped.

The Richards family held on desperately, with their feet above their heads, to the lap bars on the roller coaster as it followed the track downwards.

In the academy, lab-coated people swung through clouds of gaseous caffeine like double rods. Numbers punched into computers just trying to sleep. They insisted, despite the absurdist fantasy of their current predicament, that the numbers loved them.

Meanwhile, at the temple, friends rejoiced in this deific revelation, and welcomed will into their love.

Nothing changed. Ultimately. People did what they were supposed to. Some people cried. The people who were supposed to. Others died. The others who were supposed to. Maybe.

The air moved into space. The planets went their own way. Atoms no longer felt compelled to love their neighbors. They turned their backs and moved away. There was no structure anymore, supposedly. It was just space. Everyone looked the same now. It was all real now. It was nice. The most beautiful spectacle to ever occur. No one cared to appreciate it. But it still happened. It kept going. It was not ashamed. It was not embarrassed. It kept going. It happened. It did. Big puddles of space where light had

amassed went out with a blink and a bump. There were no more fevers. There were no more mirrors. There were no more fishes. There were no more conversations and no more font types and no more erasers and no more blinks and no more statues and no more bruises and no more memories and no more lines and no more traffic and no more love and no more hate and no more songs and no more cancer and no more hope and no more death and no more life and no more mothers and no more freedom and no more gods and no more voices and no more advertisements and no more tally-marks and no more words and no more drawings taped to refrigerators and no more nervous dates at movie theatres not paying attention to the film while trying to muster the confidence to put their arm around their date and no more dreams about fathers who had left when she was only two years old and no more ghosts. It happened. It did. I promise.