Worms

 

 

Worms

Yesterday’s cored apple buzzes with light,
another vessel stored in sadness.

I have swallowed vows.

I have replaced air with earth
and enjoyed tongued flesh.

To think is to live. To live is to delay.

Burrowing through the soil’s rich
decay, this body,

accepted. Absorbed.

 

 

“Worms” was first  published in Rue Scribe in September 2018.

 

Somehow Dawn

 

Somehow Dawn

I don’t know what to say. Or how.
Feeling that I am on the upslope,
not close. Not wrong. I want
to be that hollowed space
in the hackberry’s trunk,
the calm of darkened light.
And more. Some honey, dripped
from the spoon. A house finch,
fluttering. I will whittle my losses,
carve out needs. She will tell me
the history of our days. She will
smile, engrave her initials on my
chest. Somehow, the birds still
sing. Somehow, dawn trickles in.

 

“Somehow Dawn” was first published in August 2019 at Vox Populi. I am grateful to Michael Simms for his support, and am thrilled to be a regular contributor to this lively publication.

Gulf

gulf

 

Gulf
for M.V.

Which looms wider, its sky or water? The birds, here, too,
reconvene in greater streaks. This morning I stomped around
Paisano, examining the grasses and soil, the rocks and various
configurations of clouds, and listened to experts discuss
prescribed burns and how the land’s contours can determine
sequence and efficacy. The mockingbird whose territory
we occupy has disappeared. Perhaps he’s just moved on.
I heard a red-bellied woodpecker yesterday, but never saw it,
and of course the rattlers at the ranch are still underfoot, just
less apparent this time of year. I looked closely, as always,
but never spied one. What else did I miss? The rich people
on the bluffs bulldoze habitat, poison creeks and erect their
Italianate villas, caring not a whit for the breeding warblers
or the landscape, although they might pony up a few bucks
for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;
they don’t smile or offer spiked drinks and stories of their
conquests, and usually warn before striking. Even a minor
deity might take offense and crack open a new fault in the
earth between this place and theirs, widening it by inches
with each presumption, every falsehood, whether shaded
in unrelated facts or illogic, until that shifting space could
be spanned solely by a bridge planked with truth and good
manners, and, yes, by mutual consent. Looking back, I
find many examples of these bridges collapsing in utero,
but we keep trying. Your story of the gulf coast storm
reminded me of weeks spent on calm water, and seeing,
no matter where I turned, blue meeting blue, from horizon
to horizon, the sky never broken by bird or cloud, born
anew each day, always looking between, never down.

 

 

“Gulf” was published in West Texas Literary Review in March 2017.

 

Night

image

 

Night

Which particular wind curls through this dream of mountains
and books left opened? One that flicks pages or shreds
leaves while caressing your cheek? Or another, damp
and limp from envy, barely ruffling the night’s
curtain? In your sleep I am none of these,
relegated instead to unseen tremors or
the chill rasp of sparked surprise, a
tune laid across an unmade bed
in spring, its notes cluttering
the score. Or might I be the
stilled motion, eyes closed
and held taut, creased as
if worn by a pocket’s
rub and frequent
unfolding? This
is your clock.
Continue
the lie.

 

image

 

End of the Road, CR 245

 

End of the Road, CR 245 

How the day’s fragments fade. One cloud,
a leaf. The horned toad scuttling across
the path. I am wondering what lies
beneath the flimsy topsoil, whether grubs
or beetles linger in their perpetual nights.
If I overturn that rock, will a scorpion’s tail
rise? Thunder strums my roof as I look
through the streaked window. Nothing
changes. You wanted that separate
peace, the one kept boxed in the drawer
for safekeeping. Foolish for having once
believed, for remaining in disbelief,
I step out into the rain, lift the rock.

 

 

“End of the Road, CR 245” was published in fall 2019 in the print anthology Through Layered Limestone: A Texas Hill Country Anthology of Place. I am grateful to editors d. ellis phelps, Lucy Griffith, Darlene Logan, Donna Peacock and Mobi Warren for taking this and three other pieces.

 

 

 

Political Haibun

 

Political Haibun

The wind knows impermanence but does not trust it.
Dependent upon atmospheric pressure, absorption
and rotation, who can blame the wind? We, too,
lend ourselves illusions, only to barter them away.
Three miles for a beer. Seven seconds for a fresh look.
A dollar extended for every five stolen. Empathy,
but only for the wealthy. Electing liars to office,
we justify our actions with more untruths. Nothing
improves. Even the quality of lies diminishes.

yellowed grass bending

under the sun’s weight

god’s will, they say

 

Countdown #4: This Oak

 

My last five posts of 2020 are reruns of five of the most viewed posts on this site during the year.

  

This Oak

Never rooted in Tibet,
has not watched a whale breach
a November Pacific dusk, or guzzled
bitter beer near Vesuvius. Nor has it
absorbed the warmth of a loved one’s
hip on a frozen morning long after
the embers’ glow has greyed
and the windows blossomed
white. It cannot know the beauty
of disparate instruments playing
in joyous harmony. It will whisper
no incantations, does not smile,
won’t ever feel the anticipation
of a first kiss after a complicated
courtship. The bouquets of Bordeaux
elude it, as do tears or the benefits
of laughter. Why, then, do I envy it so?

 

 

“This Oak” was published in Slippery Elm (print only) published by Findlay University in Findlay, Ohio, in spring 2019. 

 

Scarecrow Dances

Scarecrow Dances

A case of the almost
tapping into the deed:

I dance in daylight,
but never on stairs

nor in countable
patterns, the wind

and birds my only
partners. When the

left arm twitches
counter to the right

hand’s frisk, my
head swivels with

the breeze, catching
my feet in pointe,

a moment endured
in humor. Luther

Robinson switched names
with his brother Bill

and became Bojangles,
but my brothers remain

nameless and silent,
flapping without desire

or intent. Why am I
as I am, born of no

mother, stitched and
stuffed, never nurtured

but left to become this
fluttering entity, thinking,

always thinking, whirling,
flowing rhythmically

in sequence, in time
to unheard music?

No one answers me.
But for now, I dance.

“Scarecrow Dances” first appeared in The Blue Nib in September 2016.

Take Another Piece of My Heart

 

Take Another Piece of My Heart

Perhaps the left ventricle, or the anterior descending
vein. No matter which you grab, I’ll not survive
the seizure, but is that not the point?  And which coin
will you place in my mouth to ease the passage across
the river Acheron? Or will I remain on the banks,
neutral and overlooked, forgotten. If this river is woe,
I serve its pride. I wear its banner. Do you recall the
butcher’s bill from that last flight? Sixty innocents,
including children. How many more must we tally
before admitting to the futility of perpetual war?
An acquaintance on the ground that day saw the
flash and immediately thought there are no mistakes,
just as I, from my box in Nevada, admitted, too, that
no mistakes occur, a synchronicity joined in death
and its production. I no longer employ euphemism.
When my coworker’s eyes crinkle and he laughs
about weeding the lawn of fun-sized terrorists,
I see bloody children, mangled flesh, smoke and
flame. I kill from comfort and afar. This is my life.

 

 

* * *

“Take Another Piece of My Heart” was published in Ligeia’s Winter 2019 edition.  Many thanks to poetry editor Ashley Wagner for taking this poem. I’m also grateful to Tami Wright for providing the title and sponsoring “Take Another Piece of My Heart” in the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 fundraiser.