Photo courtesy of Anastasia Tietz, originally for “Kilometers.”

Selects from my writing portfolio, “Cornerstone,” completed May 2015 as a requirement for the Kent State University Writing Minor. This portfolio contains some material originally included in chapbooks “Kilometers” and “Roots.”


The first verses I ever recited were from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I was six years old, and my dad was teasing me. I responded with “Et tu, Brute?”

He thought I was speaking another language. In a way, I was. Growing up, I read poetry.

I write and love poetry. It’s all about the way words are strung together. They have a rhythmic pattern that conveys more meaning than each word’s definition.

Every poem in this portfolio was intricately placed. Together, they tell a story—my story.

This is my language.


Micropoem 4

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.


You are a series of lines
and sharp angles. The
length of your body and
jutting elbows are locked
gates and chained fences.
Your lines bend and,
suddenly, you are
and open
I crawl into you,
the softness of your
rolling wave of
cascading to the
The slump of your shoulders
is my pillow of rest and
your lopsided smile
is a blanket of down.
Your warmth engulfs me.
You rub your eyes hoping
the redness will leave.
My right eye is bloodshot
from watching you sleep.

mix: Six

I knew you once.
I feel your traces
in my bones,
excavated, your
trademark etched
bottom left,

My metacarpals
remember the
flesh of your
callused from
building ships,
drawing maps.

Did you draw a
map to find me?
Did you remember
your stifled
treasure between
my shoulder blades?
My 26 vertebrae
shake with
infectious laughter.

X marks the spot
at the base of my
skull, where the
cartilage trembles
at the roots of my
hair, and I long to
still feel you there.

But you are too late.
My skin melted away.
I am only bones.

Ode to Beck

Pull and Pop.
Morning Phase crooning words
Drive into the night.
On this path, a blanket of
fresh powder covers every hill.
Five miles back, I swear it was spring.
Just let the engine run.
The baseline thumps against my thigh
with every note deep.
30 seconds back, I swear I was haunted.
Somewhere unforgiven.
I am there with no remorse
through suburbs, through towns.
12 miles left, I swear into crisp air.
I will wait for you.
Minutes tick by, I swear I’m waiting.

Happy 20th Birthday

We took the long way home
on our last day as children.
You should have been packing.
I still had two weeks here.
Maps were foreign objects
when I was with you.
We found our way in city lights
on intuition alone.
God, do I miss you now
right in that moment—
your sarcastic tongue
and witty teeth.
You were lost,
I’ve been here before.
There’s a bus stop on the
right at the corner here.
Turn left, and I promise you
a Rally’s down the road.
When we get to that corner,
make another left, dear,
and follow it straight home.

I miss you on rainy days
when the pitter patter beats
to “Banana Pancakes.”
Remember when we were 16?
Our stormy weather playlist
kept us calm indoors.
Those songs I can’t
listen to anymore.

I miss you in the summer
when we were tanktops,
shoulders bleached two stripes
identical on either side
from the heat/sweat/concert/drive
You said, I miss you, let’s skype.
and I believed you.

I miss you most at 4 a.m.
when it’s dark outside,
right before sleep sets in.
I haven’t heard from you
so I play our songs
and listenand listenand listen
and I still believe you.

I promised I wouldn’t write for you anymore.

Micropoem 2

I went to the city to find you.
I was hoping for a trick of the mind,
to see your face on every passerby.
I don’t remember you.


My love…like Pompeii.
streets of polygonal stones
and complex systems—shaking.
My grounds are upheaved.
You are Vesuvius:
pulsing magma and ash.
my eight kilometers
are wholly preserved.
482 degrees scorch me.
I am leveled from
20,000 to 0.
Our love…like Pompeii.


My soul is a forest,
a wooded daydream
without a compass.
My roots are deep,
seeping into my bones,
trunk long, branches
extending to clouds.
My leaves are never
My willows always
If eyes are the window
to the soul—your eyes?
A kaleidoscope of mine.
Let your colors paint
my hooded skies.

mix: One

Sprawled in high school hallways,
we were glasses and giggles
and uneaten lunches
and sticky-note lockers.

We were curly hair and
braids down our backs
and tears and hugs and
laughs and secrets.

I don’t recognize you anymore,
haircut and contact lenses—
your squinty eyes looked
larger behind frames,
or maybe it was just
child-like wonder.

I made you five mix tapes
for when you drive your
beaten hand-me-down.
You knew every rhythm
and every chorus,
five tapes on repeat.

We’re getting older,
play the same songs
over and over again
until their words
write our stories.

They’ll write our stories,
and you’ll be gone
getting older
with newer songs
played over and over
until ours becomes yours.

These words will never
leave this page—each one
significant to our age—
and my story is here
between these lines.
I’m missing you dearly.
Without you, I’m fine.

Micropoem 3

On those days when I drift out to sea,
I know you’ll be the one to anchor me.


My spine is made of teeth:
gapped and decaying,
the strongest bone in my body.
And when you slice my cadaver
to harvest my insides,
I hope it smiles just for you,
you ugly sonofabitch.
I’ll have the last word.

For Wyatt

You don’t need to be strong
I’m sorry things happened the way they did
but you’re wrong
you never saw the pride in his eyes
you could say goodbye a thousand times
but would it be enough?
To him, that never mattered
you were the light in his life
today you cried a thousand times
it will be all right
you’ll carry on, you’ll carry on
no, you don’t need to be strong
just because you can’t see him
doesn’t mean he’s gone.

Micropoem 6

I don’t know what you’re looking for,
but God, I hope it’s me.

Finale: Est-ce Que C’est L’amour

When I see you,
my heart orchestrates
a grand symphony.
Blood crescendos
through my veins
and pools in my cheeks,
building up, fortissimo.
My stomach’s blushing
and crooning French,
“Oh, vous êtes là,”
the butterflies in
my chest woke up
at the sound of
your voice like
my circadian rhythm
depends solely on
echoes from
deep caverns
of your throat.
Sing me a lullaby to
put me at ease.
Your footprint patterns
piano keys:
Sheet music littered
with crinkles by your
eyes every time you
Is it the sound of love?
Don’t let me forget.

Micropoem 8

Am I allowed to be afraid of the future?

(I’m terrified.)