Joseph Boyle

Joseph Boyle lives in Sacramento, California, with his partner and a pair of tiny dogs. He works as a counselor and spends his free time metabolizing sugars and admiring the way wind moves through trees. He has been published by Lemon Peel Press, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Inksounds, The 2020 Stony Thursday Book, The Ekphrastic Review, and others.


My father was a retired man
short on breath, angina,
wincing on a sunny bench,
snoozing through mass

By trade, a pipe coverer
but if you asked him
he’d say he put out fires

‘In India,’ he said, they wove asbestos
fibers into blankets and mats,
‘you could throw a rug on the fire,
burn out the dirt and grime’

I imagined weeks of footprints, a dance of flame
floating up to a bright white hole in the roof,
rug returning to the floor,
inoculated with fire

Fire crackles, padded feet
hurry into a dusty corner,
my eyes go wide, taking in the dark
of a childhood dream of salamanders

My father measured out his daily dose
in filaments, in millirem,
his business of abatement,
to protect himself, glazing the rim of the glass
in 101, lit the match
and slugged it back

Toward love, step by step [Little Meadow]

Tramping down the dirt on hot September days
or lazing alone by the lake, many times
before we met, me
pretending to read
as your legs scissored away into trees,
white sneakers like pinpricks in a paper bag

Learning to love all creation,
the names of each seed and stringy bit of plastic
sloshing around in the stomach of a whale
somewhere writing arias
to flowers and other
bourgeois pursuits,
falling down a waterslide of booze,
licking at my bruise

Calling forth ghosts of all dead women
and men I half knew,
never seeing your face but hoping I’d be
the right dog for you,
shaking green from my furry hat,
learning to be loud when needed,
low when I wanna be,
wondering if I’d always be
this wet many times before we met
Putting down the pen for now,
calling from the tent we staked down,
four corners straining in the wind,
cupping hands,
bringing soil to my face,
stepping on my back to release each nerve,
smiling into dirt like coffee grounds
black and rich I married
the daughter of a dervish

You’ll read this and think it’s odd, but
somewhere in god there is
a thick and revolving cloud of gold flake
where I keep my love for you