While Looking Up at a Working Wasp, I Trip

 

While Looking Up at a Working Wasp, I Trip

How do these things I once barely acknowledged
now snare toes or twist ankles, causing me to stumble,

spill coffee and curse. Steps, rocks, pavement, curbs.
Door sills. No matter which, without provocation.

Solitary wasps mate not in flight but in the vicinity
of their nesting area. Three years ago a female

violated our unspoken agreement of mutual
existence; my arm purpled and ballooned

to twice its normal size, and I demolished her nest
for fear that attacks would become habit. Today,

another builds in the same spot. I stoop by,
beneath notice, as she labors to make room

for eggs fertilized with stored sperm from a single
drone. Such diligence should earn rewards.

I stroll to the mailbox and marvel at their ability
to manufacture wood pulp for nests, how

certain species avoid mating with siblings
on the basis of chemical signatures, and that

they voluntarily control the sex of their offspring.
Ah, the wonders of nature! Approaching the door,

I look up and observe the growing nest with
admiration, enter the house without stumbling,

and inhale the fragrance of the perfectly arranged
lilies. The books on the table entice me, so I

pour a glass of malbec and thumb through them
with great pleasure. Soon, after sunset, she will die.

 

* * *

“While Looking Up at a Working Wasp, I Trip” was published in MockingHeart Review in May 2018.

Flame

 

Flame 

Drifting, she passes through the frame.

Reshapes borders, edges.

The way smoke scribes a letter in the sky with
gases and particulates. Intractable. Impermanent.

But not like a risen corpse
yet to accept its body’s stilling, or
the flooded creek’s waters taking
a house and the family within. Some things

are explainable. This morning you drained
the sink, and thunder set off a neighbor’s alarm.

From every moment, a second emerges.

Picture a man lighting a candle where a home once stood.

 

* * *

“Flame” was published in Poppy Road Review in February 2019 and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo

 

The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo

The difficulty lies in denying the rest,
pretending the denouement remains unknotted
like that length of rope looped over the branch,
unable to serve its purpose. I regret nothing,
but often wish that I had dangled my feet
in the stream more often and felt the trout
wriggle by in their fluency of motion. Last year
my daughter claimed that as a half-mortal
what pulsed through her heart was not blood
but ichor, the life-force of gods, and when I
stated that her mother was from Muleshoe and
not Olympus, and that I may have been the
product of divine intervention, but was neither
god nor blessed creature, she spat wine in my
face, laughed, grabbed my keys and chugged off
in the cherry-red Karmann Ghia I’d dubbed
La Gloria Roja. I’ve not seen that car again, but
I swear I’ve heard its custom klaxon ah-woo-gah
in strange small towns between train stops
and the lonely fields stretching out into the
blackness like memories losing traction. But
mostly I find myself in this house of books
and empty bottles, maintaining space and time,
herding shadows into their oblong boxes,
contemplating nooses and love, courage and
mortality, and the inability to step up, to swallow
what I most crave and do what must be done.

 

* * *

“The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was published in Main Street Rag in October 2017. I was fortunate to have two sponsors for the poem – Clyde Long, who provided three words (denouement, ichor and claxon) and Paul Vaughan, who offered the title. One never knows what will come of these sponsored pieces…

 

Ramekin

 

Ramekin

I speak when you speak,
say nothing to your everything.

The world is a ramekin filled with bits of ourselves.

It is a recipe for error,
a list of adorations and illusion.
You take my hand and say when I’m gone
there will be others.

The ingredients include vinegar and salt, but no honey.

You hear what I hear, only more.
Teach me to breathe.

Empty this dish.

Tell me.

 

 

“Ramekin” was first published in the online anthology Igxante: An Ontology. I am grateful to editor Kate Morgan for taking this piece.

 

In Praise of Chiggers

 

In Praise of Chiggers

 

And the others
feasting unseen
upon you,
offering their
blessings
of digestive juices
and anticoagulants,
allergic reactions and
reddened mounds
made pleasurable
by your fingernails
scraping the skin
around them, over
and raw, again,
again, it feels
so good!

 

“In Praise of Chiggers” first appeared here in August, 2017.

 

Drawer of Possibilities

 

Drawer of Possibilities

In the drawer of possibilities
you find stasis, the lure of the unknown.
To what should this hinged orb
be subservient? Or that wrinkled blade?
An egg, the bald potato. The sacrificial
carrot? To everything its purpose.
Like that light in the crook of the
altered frame, attracting the winged
beings. You, of course, serve nothing.

 

 

“Drawer of Possibilities” first appeared in The New Reader in March 2018.

 

How to Do Nothing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

How to Do Nothing

First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,

announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.

Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents

and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember

the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,

and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.

Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.

Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,

the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t

solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.

 

* * *

“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review.

steel toe

 

Jazz Study in Time: Migraine

ice

 

Jazz Study in Time: Migraine

How the body expends its pain,
receptors enunciating their message,

all of one pulse: outward then in,
ice pushing through glass,

metal’s red glow searing flesh,
and the moments between

the piercing and acceptance, the
dull and incomprehensible whirl

of lights flashing from midnight
to snowflake, returning, always there.

 

 

Abstract swirl

 

“Jazz Study in Time” first appeared on the blog in December 2015.

 

Thunderstorm Below the Mountain

image

 

Thunderstorm Below the Mountain
(after Hokusai)

Lacking humility, I take without thinking.
How far we’ve come, to look below for
lightning, the valleys shaken
with thunder, answers

like pebbles flung outward,
each to its own arc, separate
yet of one source, shaded into the question.

Is it for the scarcity of reach,
the reverse view through the bamboo rings
well out of sight, that

breath in the wave’s tuck or
smoke mingling with the clouds
and figures collecting salt,

that I edge myself closer, again,
to this place? To be nothing
presumes presence in absence.
Lacking humility, I accept without thinking.

 

image

“Thunderstorm Below the Mountain” first appeared here in March 2016.

 

Something Lost, Something Trivial

broom

 

Something Lost, Something Trivial

Another word, another bewildered
moment in transition: the phrase
barely emerges from your mouth
before crumbling back into a half-opened
drawer in the loneliest room of a house
that died seventeen years ago.

I nod as if in understanding, and stoop
to pick up a crushed drinking straw,
the kind with the accordion elbow
that facilitates adjustment.

From a rooftop across the street,
a mockingbird warbles his
early morning medley of unrelated
songs, and you say left oblique,
followed by matches, then
collapse on a bench,
winded. I sit next to you

and we both enjoy the warmth
and birdsong, though I know
this only through the uplifted
corner of your mouth, which
these days is how you indicate
either deep pleasure or

fear. I have to leave soon,
I say, and you grab my wrist
and stare into my eyes.
Broom, you reply. And more
emphatically, Broom!

Though I cannot follow you
directly, knowing both path
and destination, I pick my way
carefully through the years
stacked high like cardboard
banker’s boxes stuffed with
papers and receipts no one
will ever see. I know, I say.
I love you, too. Broom.

 

* * *

“Something Lost, Something Trivial” was published in January 2016 in the first issue of MockingHeart Review. Many thanks to founding editor Clare L. Martin, for her multiple kindnesses.