Poems

In Bloom

There is nothing
quite like witnessing
someone you love
in the unabashed summer
of their best life.

A human in bloom,
wearing their best dress,
dancing to their favorite song,
and singing every line
of their favorite song
like a door swinging open
revealing the secret key
they’ve carried inside
for too long.

This is what we want
to believe that Death
will stand down to,

and often Death does,
but too often Death
takes the song
along with the door
and the key.

There is no accounting
for a reckless wind
that blows in on the lift
of our collective pain,
and sweeps us away,

so thank you
for doing that bravest thing
of being exactly the human
that lives inside of your heart,
banging away
the shadows of any doubt.


day #20 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Birmingham Museums Trust

A Letter to the Office of Death

I am no farmer,

and I have
never carried
a sickle.

A blade
pulled across wheat
is as foreign to me
as taking a sick dog
and a shotgun
far enough into a field
where the children
will certainly hear the bang
but not the whimper.

I have never yanked
a barely-breathing fox
out of the wrapped carnage
of the mangling of
a barbed wire trap.

I have never
killed the fox
to save my hens.

I have never
killed my hens
to feed my children.

My farm
is a silent caricature
slapped on the plastic label
of a neatly frozen fragment
of a something

far from the spaceless cage
where the soul of the creature
once left its body.

Death is no longer
the reaper.

It seems that death
no longer pulls life
from the ground
with its calloused hands.

I suppose the death
that we know best
is four walls containing
a perfect climate
and a music
which in any moment is
whatever we need it to be

to cover the sound of the bang,
as well as the whimper.


day #19 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Priscilla Du Preez

Owlhead

She tells me that now and then
she likes to put on this owlhead.

She explains to me that when she
has her owlhead on, she can see
in so many directions at once.

She says it slows her down,
being able to view the world
in such a panoramic way,
through the eyes of an owl.

In her day-to-day life,
she tells me, sometimes
it feels like she has
tunnel vision,

and like she only has
three minutes
for everything.

That is why I put on
the owlhead,
she tells me.

I can watch the moon
move slow at night.

I can see the field mice
below me in its glow
and grab them
in my claws,
she tells me.

But sometimes,
she tells me,
when I put on
the owlhead
I can’t sleep.

I become restless,
spooked by each
and every sound.

I am consumed by it,
and I never know when
the fear will come
for me.

I tell her maybe you
shouldn’t put on the owlhead.

Maybe instead just take off,
now and then,
into the forest at night.

I have tried that,
she says to me,
but there is nothing for me
that makes me feel
the way I feel
when I wear
the owlhead.

There just is nothing
that slows me down
the same way as this
owlhead.


day #18 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Annie Spratt

Ghost Nonsense

A true story.

I’ve had ghosts come visit me while I’m sleeping my whole life. One night I was sleeping, with Shelsea in bed beside me. A ghost came to my side of the bed and said to me over and again, “Brice…psst, Brice…” I was dead fucking tired, and when I’m dead fucking tired, there’s nothing that is going to get between me and sleep. I hate these ghosts. They just keep me up when I’m trying to take care of myself and rest. I rolled away from the ghost and ignored its annoying ass.

The next morning, Shelsea sat up in bed, looked at me and said, “there was a ghost in the room last night. It kept bugging me, telling me that it needed your attention.” I told Shelsea “I know, I told it to leave me alone.” “Weren’t you curious what it had to say to you?” said Shelsea. “Not really,” I told her, “It’s always some ghost nonsense,” and that’s the truth.


day #17 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Safal Karki

If ever however a never came through

If ever however a never came through,
I’d sever that never so promptly in two,
then the two nevers would look at each other
and see not a never but acknowledge another.

Those nevers no longer could stand to be none
but something uncovered like love in the sun.
They’d go out and find out the something they are,
a butcher, a baker, a widow, a star.

That something would fill them from heads to their toes
and take them to somewheres they’ve yet to unknows.
There they’d discovered they’re more than a lonely,
but flames in the fire of the best ceremony.

And flames, you may know, do resist being counted
as they burst from the earth like a fiery fountain,
and spread where they can like a message of worth
and messages often are doulas to birth.

So never say never unless it’s a truth
that hangs on your tongue or the tip of your tooth.
Say yes, no or maybe or I think perhaps later,
for saying a something, there’s nothing much greater.

And this is a life, after all, after all,
and while you are rising another one falls,
and if they could speak as they fall through the hold
I’m certain they’d scream out, “be bold, yes, be bold.”


day #16 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: JR Korpa

Dear Maria,

Dear Maria,

              It’s been a long time.

Each year has felt
              longer the shorter it was.

I still don’t know you,
              but maybe I know you
              a little bit better
              than before.

There is undoubtedly
              a little hammock
              stretched out for you
              between two trees
              in my heart.

Dear Maria,
              on the other side
                             of everything.

Maybe sometimes
              you’re dancing.

That’s just me
              knowing that
                             I need to be dancing.

Maria,
have you grown?

              What shapes and colors
              have you grown into?

Maria,
there just honestly
is less to say now
and there’s so much
to do.

              Take this letter,
              fold it in halves
              and over itself again
              until the bends become a crane
              or anything else
              and let it fly off
              over whichever mountain
              you wish.

You have me.

              Feel free to write me
                             into whatever shape you need.

              I’ll be
                             here.


day #15 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: April Pethybridge

Notebook Fragments

After Ocean Vuong

Fist fighting a ghost.

The war on Christmas.

The man who unburied
his mother.

Kanye West meditates.

Tennis game with Caravaggio.

Will not write a poem today.

Looking around the room
I realize that I am in fact
all seven of the people
in the room.

$500 dog, $1 conversation.

Presidents don’t sleep.

I am beautiful
and so can you.

I drank the free whiskey.

The improperly jigsawed
puzzled piece.

Sympathy for jellyfish.

Late career comedian.

Happy pilot plane crashing.

Guy sees something on TV
and tries it in real life
to different results.

Todd who wants to do
nothing.

Nihilist birthday card.

The okay canyon.

People respect you a lot more
with a bouquet of flowers
in your hands.

St. James Hotel Fire

Why do people move to Denver?

Some houses speak languages of love.
Some speak survival.

I’m not crying listening to Adele
at work.

Larry David Seinfeld moment.

Casa Bonita art.

Boy boy obscurity.

Death is this little girl.

The news.

Driving by dinosaur park.

Transmission to Gary Lee
wherever you are.

Are you so afraid
of the love
of an intelligent woman?

Colfax was made for marching.

It’s a strange country
that worships the father
and bastardizes itself
every chance it gets.

A culture with no dancer.

On the other side is love.
On the other side is love.

Life is a beautiful
and fucked up place.


day #14 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Jack B

Away Message (OOO)

I am sorry to have missed you.

I will be out of the office from April 9th, 2021
until these dreams decide to return me
to my body.

Can your message wait?

Can it wait forever?

When did you last leave this digital box
to untending?

Let go so the wild weeds of the internet
can take hold of this white space?

A memorandum can be a beautiful thing.

It does sometimes
take red eyes burning past five
to heal this second world
that some of us
have collectively chosen to nurture.

Where is your away message
 for a moon,

hanging on by a thread of light,
for you to share your best notes
on how to move through its shadow?

There is stars unaccounted for,

and dynasties of madness
awaiting a whistle you didn’t know
belonged to you.

There is sheep
              in need
                             of humans
              to count
to sleep
              to dream
                            their strange,
sheepy dreams,

where time is an ugly word
and lunch is when you’re hungry,

and love is mud and wondrous,

and tomorrow is swept
into the mouth of the whale
that lives in your belly,
desperate to be fed fish
that science has no names for
and science that fish have no need for.

The mathematics
of forgetfulness,

the elevator pitch
of stairs that lead to nowhere.

That is where you can reach me.

If you need assistance while I’m away,
I have listed below the appropriate parties
to contact.


day #12 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Sharon McCutcheon

rocky mountain national park, april 12 2021

rocky mountain national park

april 12, 2021

the fire took too much


of me and (you may not know it) but of you


and the fire took too much and most of all of the trees


the trees look like scratches across a bad page of paper


i no longer have the luxury of getting lost until i find myself


because the trees are gone now


they did not opt to leave


or die of old age and back into the ground that is also them


the birds are gone


the ground is as empty as a modern promise


the sky is still there


holding clouds like it’s setting food for a table of no one


and no one is there to see it


the everyone that once loved these trees like an old friend


or a lover


or an elder or a godparent or holy enough a tree


the everyone has left with the debris of the trees that don’t speak


and that no one seems to speak for


and the lush forest of my lungs was built on the memory of this place


and now the lush forest of my lungs feels like a never


my heart feels like a black key on an old piano that doesn’t play a single sound


and barren is no longer a word but a place


and humanity is no longer a dream but a natural disaster


i cannot unpass through the death of this something that gave birth to me


i cannot unfeel this fire


the wisdom of dead trees is not a hum but a memory of a hum


that once lived longer than any of us will without it


day #11 of #nationalpoetrymonth | Cover image: Brice Maiurro & Shelsea Ochoa