My concentration at Virginia Tech was in Creative Writing, and while I wrote both prose and poetry, poetry won out. Here are some of my favorites from the past few years. Some of them I made into videos.
I’ll always know home by how the
road winds through all these bones,
these old mountains that steam like
hot coals on cold wet stone.
Summer here tastes something
like honey and gratitude.
I have been lucksmithing my way
through bonfire nights
in deep Appalachian woods,
and there ain’t a place fuller
than this—I promise you.
You’ve never felt a moonswell like
you do here in August,
never felt it jump the banks of it’s craters
and land a foot deep in old Virginia dust.
The sky here never changes,
not the stars, not the moon,
and the Milky Way is always fat
I have drunk my fill
of its constellations,
have ursa minored my way
through all this
I buried my bones in the
blue ridge before
coming to this place,
right next to a birch tree.
I marked them with a book
of matches, built a bonfire,
left it for someone
else to burn.
Smoke and leftover folk
both wander well through
the dark. When I got to this
town, I didn't recognize
Virginia in her, couldn't
remember Virginia ever
wearin' a summer so heavy.
And let me tell you—
she looked tired. Bet she
sleeps as much as me
I have been spending my nights
growing new teeth; I no
longer want to be filled with
such bite, tearing through
every moment before
knowing how each
I am growing new bones,
trying to find something
sturdy to hang them
from—a small patch
of home, or something
that feels right
Sometimes at dusk,
I still look south,
waiting for the glow
from a single
line of smoke,
and I'll know
it's me burning down
whatever it was
that I was.
YOU EVER SEE A MAN BULLY THE SUN?
I'm going to fight the sunrise until it gives me its
lunch money, shake it upside down ‘til it begs me
to go back to sleep. ‘Cause I don’t need this light
presuming its way through my window every morning.
I am three a.m. buzzing now, don’t you know that?
Watch me sleep four hours a night for a month straight,
look the sun right in the eye and win that
Milk and honey, Sun, that’s all you are. I am burnt-toast
breakfast when the bus comes late and there’s only one
seat left in class. And it’s in the front row. So don’t test me,
mister. You bring me morning on my terms—over easy
with a yolk that’s running for its life.
Cracks in the corners of his mouth
like the Grand Canyon, like he was sleeping
wide-mouthed terrified or surprised at something he was
This man, all slop toothed and wire-bearded,
came down from his mountain to a sky
dapple-bruised and tired,
aching from a year full of fists and not enough time.
He saw the sun a coward, wondered where its bones
had gone, saw the sun a cowardly slump, saw
it shamed into twilight come noontime, saw it
skip dinner and sup on dead stars and dead poets.
Come when the sun saunters square shouldered
into morning, with its guilt all packed into boxes,
there won’t be but a hint of noctilucence
to shout at.
And the dawn is too pretty a thing to be bruising.
there in the deep yawn of summer
Collector of collectors, I am Winter’s blustery
corner. She nips, chips from my edges
and makes a slow thing of me, filling all
of my spaces with restless debris. I will
soon get to these broken things,
I will, I promise you.
My desk is covered in odds and ends,
bits and buttons, drawer knobs and
leftover screws. I only ever want the option
to fix the things that need fixing,
and know where all my pieces are.
Once the good greenness comes back into
this valley, my finger prints are full of dirt
and I’ve got flowers growing from dresser
drawers. I throw laundry on a line out back,
pin it to the breath of Summer, chew on a
sarsaparilla root, and wait for everything to dry.
In June, the inside lets out. Windows
open like the house is a big man
yawning awake, waking from and into a dream.
In June, I become an earthy thing—got ants burrowing
in my pockets; they know my soil’s good.
I collect glorious piles of the stuff,
spread it all over Sunday morning,
plant twigs, wish for trees. I’ve got the stuff
shaking off my beard when I laugh.
I till noonday sun with sweet, sweet
lemonade, and a kiss on your cheek.
In the evening, I push the oddments and
button bits to the edges of my table.
The window that sits above it looks toward
sunrise; the curtains sigh as the wind rocks
this home to sleep.
There is paper and a sharp pencil in the top drawer.
I take them, smooth down the edges, keep a light on
in the corner, and wait for all manner of night to come
tumbling in through the window.
The word for when the heat clicks off,
when the whole damn place exhales,
when headlights scratch at the walls.
The word for when you spend all day
collecting three p.m., so that you glow
all night, like an old television just
The word for when someone you love
swallows the sun; you, the moon. When
neither of you learned to read in the dark.
The word for standing in your bathroom
at 5:23 a.m., nose bleeding and stuffed
with toilet paper, your gut pouched and
heaving with every breath.
The word for flying at speed, at altitude,
the whole cabin panicking as the plane
skips like a stone over misplaced air,
flicking through the in-flight channels,
trying to find something you’d rather
watch if the plane went down.
The word for every noise carrying a knife
in the night, paranoia blending into numb resolve,
telling yourself it doesn’t matter if they gut
you to help you fall asleep.
The word for willing every cold morning to
be an old October—every single one of them
—from before you’d folded all of your
memories and stored them neatly under the bed.
The word for the sound of a dropped plate,
the small tremor wrapping itself around the
room, the apartment, the small tremor
shaking the strings of the guitar in its
case, the small sound from the case
in the closet that is a reminder from before
the plate, the fall, before the tremor,
before the case.
The wild spring wind, stomping and clapping,
pulled me from my dreams to dance. The moon,
how she dozes in the corner, toe tapping in time.
I am not much of a dancer, having replaced my
knees with typewriter keys; I hammer-step when
I should razzle-swing, I elbow-shimmy when I
should thunder-spin her around—
getting up to groove with her shakes my bones
just right, it almost looks like I know what all this
dancing business is about.