The One With Ducks

i am in a parking lot in winter park, orlando, florida.
it is dark, damp and gold-orange glinting.

tall streetlights trail long candlelight colored streaks
across the warm, fresh black pavement.

puddles split-fork and hoop the shifting stripes
around their inky, unforgiving voidholes as you walk.
the water is shallow but powerful.

the air is stuffy in my lungs
but it is expansive in the humid nighttime dark
that extends around me.

i stand on my sore feet and imagine the other places i could be.
my mind circles back to the place where i can’t be.

i see ducks in the parking lot
it is a shopping center parking lot.

two groceries and a pharmacy and a paper store.
a liquor store, a few restaurants.
some other something like a craft store.

i stand toe-to-edge with a puddle;
the ducks waddle just up to my feet.

unbothered by the snicking-cachicking of my cell phone camera.
dark, blurry, glinting, candlepavement photos.

The One With the Tree

a young man stands before a freshly felled pine;
its uneven stump frayed at one edge and still leaking sap.

his axe leans against the trunk of the tree,
sharp, steel head nestled in the soft moss.

he carefully explains to a family of squirrels
and a newly-childless mother blue-jay
why it is important that he have this wood to build his home.

The One With Too Much Bacon

drawing on the blank, unlit screen of your phone
using the oils on your fingertips.
smudging in the sharp slanting light in the morning.

six slices of bacon swim in the hot black coffee
filling your otherwise empty stomach.
your gut churns and turns over and over.

a fan spins above you
and its shadow casts very actively.

in the corner of your eye it flutters
like pigeons’ wings against the wall.
fast and frantic.

The One With the Painting

there’s a painting on the wall in the corner of my living room
that i realize, in this moment,
is hung upside down.

it depicts nothing.
it is abstract, just shape and color.

i painted it myself, i hung it myself.
it is not until this moment that i notice i have understood it
backwardly and upside-downward.

it is all wrong and i know that now,
but i am drunken sunken stuck in my big chair
and i can not get up to fix it.

The One About Stars

i am at the bar i work at,
or else on the bus on the way home.
the city of austin is comfortable and easy.

sometimes you forget you are in a major city
until you look at the sky, and you can not see the stars.

“when the universe was very young, it was so hot
[that] electrons and protons jumped around,
and photons of light scattered constantly.

they couldn’t travel very far before scattering again,
so the universe was opaque.

but then, around 380,000 years after the big bang,
the universe cooled just enough for electrons
and protons to form hydrogen.

suddenly, abruptly,
photons decoupled from this obstacle course
and could travel relatively unencumbered.

the universe became transparent to light”
but you can not see the stars here.

we have reversed this process
in every way that is meaningful to us.
in places where we live, the stars are blotted out
by our heat and youth.

The One About Responsibility

a horrible shock rocks your undercarriage
as the wind slides along your eroded sides.

fish and ships roll across the surface of the sea:
dead bellys rumbling with hunger in the baking sun.

oh, tell me of your difficult childhood,
tell me of the struggle to stay strong and honest.

The One About Perspective

there are days where the world seems to spread and sprawl.
to fall away at a gentle slope.
it feels washed and laid out to dry.

you feel as though you stand at the top of something,
gazing circumspectly.
everything is plain to see.

in moments like this, it is obvious that you stand
at the outermost point of a sphere, rooted by your feet.
the feeling resonates clearly and fades.