High Above the Rest

Punchy she called the wrestling children unable to sit still;
Charismatical was the suited man whose charm will take him far;
Trynamic, her choice superlatives for groups greater than two,
and couragenacious, her highest praise for the spunky and brave.

Slissue she deemed a trouble whose importance is just slight;
Fremporaries, the flimsy friends who’d left her behind;
Blindbacked, the betrayal that took her by surprise.
Sliptop, she described the rocky peak, right before her fall.

Human Nature (#140)

On the Sixteenth of January
In Two Thousand Fifteen,
Rory the Rabbit and Dempsey the Dog
Were finally forced to meet.
At first glance,Dempsey saw a new companion
Finally someone else who’s covered in fur!
Rory saw big teeth and a body flailing
Stop getting so close, excuse me sir!
It was a classic case of misread intention,
Rory saw predator, but predator saw friend;
Inaccurate assumption led to unnecessary tension,
But luckily this difference was quick to mend.

Further evolved the human brain ought to be,
Yet such a flexible mind would be a surprise to me.

World of Whiskey (#137)

Authors Note: S/o to Christine for helping me write my first Sestina for class, and generally reassuring me that my writing doesn’t suck. Hope you enjoy our self-indulgent trip down memory lane!

She always imagined it would be a twisted brass key
Unlocking the world of clinking glasses and a coaster
To greet you. That crazy Irish pub tucked away where
Travelers find repose in an Eternal City. Three or four
Wander in for a pint, a shot, and Green Spot on the rocks,
Yet through the spinning room her eyes stop short on Lee.

Stuck behind the bar slinging drinks and Irish charm faithfully,
He could make you believe one more shot of Jamison holds the key
To escaping this mess of spilled drinks and Frat boys promising to rock
Your world. But salvation is found in the strangest places, like a coaster
Flying through the air with a message and a grin, an eager summons for
A cigarette break taken out back, hidden in a peaceful alley where

His friends joke “I know American girls don’t like to smoke where
People can see them,” but she laughs and grabs his pack eagerly.
Too soon they’re interrupted by barbacks looking for
Someone, anyone to pour a beer, and needing the key
To the top shelf. A drink gets left behind on a stray coaster
Resting on a window sill, waiting for the next group to rock

And sway dizzily against this pub’s foundation rocks.
Closing down, she waits for him at an empty bar where
Desperate for an occupation her fingers fumble with coasters
Stacked to the side, until she hears the final “Goodnight, Lee”
And sees him lock the large oak doors with a forceful twist of the key,
Their real night finally beginning at half past four.

Spilling out onto cobblestoned streets, they head for
The land of Trevi, an impressive combination of rocks
And water, deserted at this time other than the smokey
Air breathed out by lads stumbling anywhere
Still serving up another pint, but Lee and his girl rest contently
Listening to fountain water rush upon a marble coast. Her

Hands search for warmth inside his pocket, but find the coaster
Instead with his inviting message scrawled on the back and before
The sky can lighten anymore, they toss the token together blindly,
Praying that it lands in wish-fulfilling waters, a drunken shamrock
Flying through the air as he begins to spin her, blissfully unaware
Of where it lands, choosing instead to take her hand and feeling lucky.

Next morning before the sun rises on that wild rock,
A police boot kicks the Murphy’s coaster left lying where
The night trailed off hazily, a streaming song of whiskey.

We March On (#134)

This is where I live!
our youngest tour guide
proudly gestures
to a 6 by 6 tin hut
viciously reflecting the African heat

Inside, a sun-beaten woman rests
against four ceramic jugs brimming
with water that’s almost fresh
carried from the well we passed
a mile and a half back.

We embark on a two-step tour
across the tiny space
where a dozen relatives sleep,
pausing at the single mattress
reserved for ouma,
eldest in the village at 52.

Her call for questions
reverberates in silence
against the camera hanging
from my neck, and the Cliff bar
peeking out of my pocket.

Our guide kisses his mom
before closing the door,
a relieved sigh slips
through my teeth,
we march on.

Backseat Blaze (#127)

I breathe in deep
and feel the moment
glide between my lips
across the short distance
measured by sideways glances
and finger-tip brushes,
Stevie Wonder trickles
through the dancing speaker
next to your foot,
always tapping along;
I smile at you through the haze
filling up this tiny car
as we’re burning more than fingers
and singing along with all our hearts
signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!

Southern Drawl (#122)

It’s s’posed to be ironic
You drawled,
Over a pale green t-shirt
With the faded stain
Of the letter “T,”

That syrup-smooth tone
Even the bees recognized as sweet,
Buzzing around me as if
To catch what dripped out next.

Who would’ve thought crawfish
Could make my stomach flip?
And could anything sound more exquisite
Than fishin’ ho-wels and gaytah tay-els?

And when you paused,
For too long,
To catch your breath,
I held mine,
And prayed that you’d keep going.

Into The Sun (#121)

Fly away into the sun, she told me,
spread your wings and take-off
twisting and turning, dodging drops
and veering left to brush against
velvet clouds and sparkling stars,
up, up, up,—always up
and away from eager hands
reaching out to clip wings.

I lean back against the too familiar
coarseness of a British Airways chair
and recall those words,
up, up, up, she whispered,
runway wheels lifting off,
fly away into the sun, my darling,
close your eyes and never stop.

The Perfect Mix (#113)

The perfect mix tape, you explain,
would contain equal parts 90s punk rock,
early 2000 club hits and a few
love anthems from the early rock revival
of Hair the musical–
a perfect combination of the best sounds
you’ve ever heard.

I think mine would include
your boyish giggle after you tell a joke,
maybe that Al Green song
we danced to all night,
your contented mmmm
right before we fell asleep,
and a constant loop of the first time
you breathed I love you.