We All Know The Drill By Now

Your misery and my misery
buy each other drinks in a dark bar

your misery has big caterpillar eyebrows
that probably weren’t so caterpillar
before they were drunkenly shaved off in college

my misery has long skinny legs
and a face that looks like a fruit bat
and a jaguar leaned in for a kiss and got
caught up in some splicing machine

your misery seems not to notice though

Your misery drinks dark and thick
and eats chunks of rare steak with just his hands –
just his hands that look George Clooney’s hands,
if he’d been a mechanic and not charismatic at all

he thinks about what he wouldn’t do for some good
old-fashioned A1 sauce

My misery is three drinks in – gin and elderflower
clogging up her veins – and she fiddles with
the cheap diamond necklace that she bought herself
when her last ex got married

it catches the little light in the place
and throws rainbows into the bartender’s eyes
but he just keeps shaking drinks
and she just shakes her head

A brown tear rolls down your misery’s face
and plops into his drink, blends right in

he reaches for the kerchief in his tattered coat pocket
but my misery catches his hand
her bat tongue swipes the next whiskey tear
and she hates whiskey but she swallows it

they’re both shocked by the touch –
misery to misery

they pay cash, one at a time, for each other’s drinks
and stumble out the door together
without touching, without pulling the oceans of their eyes
up off the sidewalk to say goodbye

Down the street I tell you I’ll call you
and thanks for the good time and I pull the wild mop
of sex curls off the nape of my neck

and your misery slinks up and grabs your ankles
and my misery slinks up and grabs my ankles
and all four of us pretend it isn’t happening
but we all know the drill by now

C & C Landscaping

A cowboy and a construction worker
are crouched over some desert landscaping plant
in the rocks between the parking lot and the sidewalk

The cowboy hands the construction worker
a measuring device,
long and metal, and the worker nods

He sets to measuring, turning the tan
of the back of his neck sunward

The cowboy touches his hat, as
cowboys do, and they grimace at one another

They quit crouching and sit right down
on the round fist-sized rocks
and shake their heads at the plant

Cars go by and by

A cyclist with a
dog in a pull-along carriage goes past

A retired hooker who still wears
stilettos and booty shorts to the bank
staggers by

No one else is concerned
about the plant

The construction worker wipes
sweat from his upper lip and the cowboy
gets to his feet in one smooth motion

and disappears, reappears
with a shovel

they take turns –
tan arms rising and falling,
flannel arms rising and falling

When they are done, they toss bits of
hacked-apart plant
at each other’s chests
and blow steam from their nostrils

They look down
at the bare ground of their finished work
and lock eyes when they firmly shake hands

The cowboy has cold beer on his mind
and the construction worker has cold beer on his mind
but they don’t say anything

and walk off in opposite directions

Nature Doesn’t Want Me Up This Early

Somebody’s chihuahua and somebody’s
bloody-mary-morning pterodactyl-sounding girlfriend
are screaming at each other down the street.
It barks, she screeches
I scratch just above the crease of my armpit
where a mosquito bit me
after I vacuumed it off the bathroom wall and accidentally
let it free when emptying the dirt into the trash

It’s that kind of 6:15-in-the-slow-summer-morning
where the sun paints everything golden
almost to mock us here on the east side

the peeling paint on the garage glows gold
the last petal on the neighbor’s 2ft
dried-to-death sunflower stuntling glows gold and falls

the goddamn chihuahua
and that hungover dinosaur-throated lady – their cursed
soundwaves are even coated in gold

I’d rather be sleeping

But I’m draped against the porch railing, filing my nails
and blinking like an unprepared mole rat in the growing sunlight
because this lady – too many fences down to know who,
too many cheap drinks last night to care who hears her now –
is having it out with some barking rat
and I’m too damn curious to dream through it

Maybe it shit on the floor right where her feet fall
when she stumbles still-drunk out of bed
and she found out the hard way

Maybe it smoked all of her Pall Malls with its poker buddies
after she passed out on the couch

Maybe they were both italian lovers in a past life and now
they find it comforting to scream
and hurl pots and pans at one another
but don’t understand why

Some squirrel shakes a tree branch and a bunch of chatter
at me and a mosquito –
probably the armpit biter’s cousin or hired heavy –
flies up my robe and chomps me on the ass

Nature doesn’t want me up this early

Maybe I have it backwards
Maybe the dog is the one who was mad first

Maybe she told the dog that she’d stuff it into the blender
and make a proper dog smoothie out of it
if he peed in her work shoes again
but he has bladder issues and if she would quit
fucking his owner at where’s-the-cocaine-gone o’clock
maybe one of them would notice and get him
the proper medical attention

Maybe he’s in love with her because she has the first pair
of ankles that he hasn’t wanted to gnaw on
and it makes him feel refined
and he just wants her attention through the fence

Maybe he wants to make his own breakfast for once,
Tony never used to put peas in his kibble and now she’s around
and it’s all “vegetables” this and “heathy shit” that

I file my pinkie nails into points
and jab them through a golden sunbeam at the squirrel
“go referee,” I tell it
and slink inside to make tea.

Dear Luke

Dear Luke,

They say that with great power comes great responsibility
and really the responsibility here falls on my shoulders, and not
because I’m some super hero out to save the world
but because
I’m flat out wildly and wonderfully addicted to your kryptonite
and I’d rather have it than you, which
maybe is mean but let’s be real –

you’re allergic to potatoes
and you will die if you have anything to do with them
and I will absolutely perish without them

So it might be a cute idea –
you’re his best friend and she’s my best friend
and they’re dating
and if you and I dated we’d be
a real cool team of best friends and we could live
a fun life of double dates and two-tent camping excursions
and meet up for fun dinners in different cities
all summer

but come on, what fun is dinner without potatoes?

And what would you eat at brunch?
What would I eat at brunch?
What if
I ate a heap of hash browns and had too many
mimosas and smooched ya solid
and your throat closed up and we had to dine and dash
because your potato-hating body
started to revolt?

I try to be considerate, make compromises
when it’s fair and when it makes sense
but if we were to date and I were to be forced
into a potato-less existence, boyyyy

you might come home from work early one day
and find me in a fit of flailing limbs
on the kitchen floor
full tantrum, full toddler-level meltdown
and realize that I’m
not actually okay
with giving up potatoes for you

That might be just the tip of the home fry though –
who knows how I could unravel
when trying to live a responsible
potato-free life?

Maybe I would stop seeing cars on the road
and instead see casserole dish after casserole dish
of scalloped potatoes
filing between the yellow lines

Maybe I would be caught sniffing the open Boulder Canyon bag
or cradling the crunchy little creatures in my palms
in the break room at work

Maybe we would be in a fight and I would get drunk
and change all of your passwords to “potatofucker”
and then forget when I sobered up
and we’d have no idea how to remedy the problem

Maybe I would have panic attacks at the farmers market
and sit in the car shaking, feeling all the thousands
of little potato eyes staring at me, calling
my name from their farm stands

Maybe we would go to your family’s house
for Thanksgiving and we’d go around the table
sharing our gratitude and it would be my turn
and I’d lose it a bit and slam my hands on the table
and cause everyone’s mashed cauliflower to shake on their plates
and smile sweet and say, “I’m grateful that you two
lovely procreating people were able to create a kid who can’t eat
pierogis or samosas or latkes or tots or poutine
or any other potato food.”

Maybe your mother would hate me after that.

Maybe your alarm would go off before mine
on weekdays and we’d be waking up
after a particularly lazy lovebird night
and I’d be mid-stretch, star-fished across the bed
and hear you holler in horror
like the guys in movies do

I’d run into the bathroom and find
huge red lipstick drawings of french fries
scribbled across the mirror
and maybe I’d try to blame Quentin, the kid
we pay to mow the lawn, or the cat
but we’d both know
that I was sleep-craving crisp
and salty, hand-cut slivers of hallelujah –
probably laying right next to you
in bed and making little happy
french-fry chewing noises after my
accidental art walk

Luke! You’re sweet and all but good god,
we will never work out.

They say that with great power comes great responsibility
and I have the power to kill you with a kiss

so I’ve got to responsibly revoke the double date dream

See ya around,
Rachel

March Challenge: 3.29

.low blow.

hey, hey
hang up the gloves

let’s play Scrabble and spell it all out,
fill the grid real quick,
and call it a tie

I’d rather be drinking miso soup
in front of rain-stained windows with you
and hand you a napkin
when thai hot is too hot but you tried anyway

I’d rather be perched over your back,
tracing your shoulder blades
and kneading the sleepless nights
and stress out of your body

I’d rather have the cat on my shoulder
and chatter to you about camping this summer
while sipping wine and shifting
from foot to foot
on the cool kitchen tile floor

I’d rather the heat rise to my cheeks
when I realize that the neighbors
have turned up their tv
to tune out the sexual soundtrack
we’re filling the neighborhood with
while the fire crackles
next to us in the early-evening backyard

I’d rather my knee touch yours
while we’re cross-legged on the couch
folding laundry

let’s let it go, forget
the swings we’ve taken
and do what I’d rather, you’d rather,
we’d rather be doing

March Challenge: 3.28

.lovesick.

The dog won’t eat

I have to trick her with
free range eggs and farm-fresh yogurt
and bits of carrots that look delicious
but I know she’ll just
hide them around the house

Sometimes she eats the whole bowl
quickly and sneaky, like
maybe she’s not supposed to be eating
even though her name is
painted around the edge of the dish

and then pukes on whichever rug
she’s nearest to

I couldn’t figure it out

Even the vet
ran her tests and found everything
down to the pads on her feet
to be in great health

Even my mother
the great Googler of all problems
couldn’t find a solid solution
to try out

But I figured it out yesterday
when I tossed a raggedy stuffed raccoon
across the yard for her
and she just looked at the neighbor’s fence
and sighed –

the little lovepup is lovesick

She and her neighbordog, Lucy,
use to dig under the fence between them
and take turns barking and digging and
kissing each other on the dirt-coated nose
once they could fit enough of themselves
under the fence

The neighbors piled stones in the holes
I piled bricks and branches
and still they dug –
swapping toys and jumping in joy

like two happy shadows
stuck on either side of the chainlink

But Lucy lost her pep –
She stopped digging so hard
Her eyes grew shallow and lost
Her fur piled in patches across her yard
Her humans started crying when they called her
back into the house

And one day she wasn’t on
the other side of the fence

And the next day

And the next week

Now the toys that I tossed back over the fence
lay there in the dirt
and they aren’t snuck back under

And my dog looks at the fence and sighs
too lovesick to play
too lovesick to eat

March Challenge: 3.27

.epiphany.

You’re typing at work and the stress
is enough to bring a clydesdale to its knees
and you’re moving too fast and you notice
the UNCAPITALIZED “i” in an email to a coworker
that’s already been sent and

HOLY SHIT what if you’re suddenly struck
by a bolt of lightning that has somehow
vaporized its way through the snow flakes,
zigzagged between closed-door warehouses,
battle-for-the-dollar kitty corner coffee cafes
and red-green-yellow
red-green-yellow
red-green-yellow forever
traffic lights
what if you’re suddenly struck dead

and that godforsaken, kingdom destroying,
grammar grenade of a lowercase “i”
is forever a part of the last thing you ever type
to another human being in this crazy
and unpredictable life?

What if?!