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. We’re past the season now…
In the summer I roll them from grocer to bus stop, little bonnets
affixed, cooing all the while – cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew,
casaba, canary, sugar, you name it, they all come home with me,
in pairs or solo, snuggled tightly in blankets and ensuring
dropped-jaw, raised-eyebrow gapes from those who approach. Don’t they look just like their mother, I ask, and no one ever disagrees.
Everybody is so nice, even the teen-age boys who no longer offer up
their seats. But Damon, who recently purchased new pants to impress
Wanda-I’m-An-Attorney, enjoys whispering secrets to us. Did you
know they’re actually berries? And that some are called fruit,
others, vegetables? They’re not much good for pies, though. I just
call them “Mel,” which is funny because I know that you’re not
supposed to name something you’re going to eat, and really, I do
recognize the difference between sentient beings and plants, but
then candidate Harumph comes to mind, and how do you explain
him and his followers? When cool weather approaches, I turn to
squash. Happy acorn, the elongated, sad butternut, pumpkin. Each
holds a niche in my heart, and I love strolling down the sidewalk
with them, humming tunes, adjusting stems, planning meals.
* * *
“Strollermelon” was first drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was published in Quiet Letter in April 2017. Thanks to Plain Jane for providing the odd title. One never knows what’ll arise from sponsored titles!
All profits from this anthology published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus, a charity which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.
But your breath could melt a glacier at three
miles, she says, and then we might consider
the dirt under your nails, the way you slur
your sibilants, and how you seldom see
the cracked eggs in a carton, a downed tree
branch in front of you, the ripened blister
of paint in the bedroom, or your sister
lying drunk on the floor in her own pee.
Back to your armpits. Do you realize
we could bottle that aroma and make
a fortune? I inhale it and forgive
your many faults. The odor provokes sighs
and tingles, blushes I could never fake.
Ain’t love grand? Elevate those arms. Let’s live!
Never in my wildest dreams did I envision writing a poem about armpits. But the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and Plain Jane, the title sponsor, provided that opportunity. This first appeared here in April 2016, and was subsequently published in Algebra of Owls. Many thanks to editor Paul Vaughan for taking it.
We Call the Neighbor’s Fat Burro Donkey Hotei, but His Name is Cantinflas
Certainty grows in corners, away from light.
From his mouth issues the breath we take, the words we keep.
Enjoy the collusion of shape and sound.
We share the hummingbird’s taste for sweet, but not its fierceness.
Its heart beats 1,200 times a minute,
and you ask me how best to bury money.
Hotei’s name means cloth sack, and comes from the bag he carried;
a man of loving character, he possessed the Buddha nature.
What we own cannot be held.
Most plastics are organic polymers with spine-linked repeat units.
The space you’ve left expands exponentially.
Left in the rain, the bell grows.
Christen me at your own peril. Agaves flower once then die.
Fluency in silence.
I dropped my pants when the scorpion stung my thigh.
The wind takes nothing it does not want.
After vulcanization, thermosets remain solid.
The Cantinflas character was famous for his eloquent nonsense.
Vacuum wrap the bills in plastic, place them in pvc.
Having mastered imperfection, I turn to folly.
Not the thing itself, but the process laid bare and opened.
Hoping to hide, the scorpion scuttled under a boot.
Thought to action, whisper to knife: which is not a curse?
The wind wants nothing; the burro sings his loneliness.
This first appeared here in May 2015. My failures often lead to success. I’ve never quite completed this piece, and don’t know that I ever will. But the first draft (nearly five years ago) set me off on a new path, one that has served me well. What more can I ask?