You Say Cicada, Which Shrivels My Ears

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You Say Cicada, Which Shrivels My Ears

I say cicada, the difference lurking in the middle,
like the shortest dancer in an off-Broadway musical,
or a note hidden between two reams of legal paper
in the supply room of a well-appointed dentist’s
office, where you find yourself, by accident, searching
for the exit. But think how our sap-sucking friend must
feel, a foot underground, during its final instar phase,
reversing course, leaving behind the darkness
and moist roots, burrowing up through the soil
toward light and the shrug into maturity. And after
that, squeezing through a crack in what had been
itself, emerging, soft and vulnerable, slouching to the
inevitable call. I think of ecdysis, how we, too, shed
ourselves, leaving behind remnants, old skin and
armor, and rising, on occasion, wiser, softer, more
complete. But sometimes we try to reenter those
discarded shells. My acquaintance searches through
the past for bits of himself, purchases toys – marbles,
pocket knives – stitching together a semblance of the
old comfort. He keeps, in one jar, three teeth from his
childhood, in another the exuviae of a half-dozen
scorpions. How delightful it would be, he says, to
abandon your hardened self and become someone
new. He looks to the ground. I nod, and whisper.

 

 


“You Say Cicada, Which Shrivels My Ears,” appeared in the inaugural issue of Claw & Blossom, in July 2019. The poem was originally written during the August 2016 30-30 challenge. I’m grateful to Sunshine Jansen, who sponsored the poem and provided three words to be included in the piece: instar, ecdysis, and sap-sucking. Thank you, as well, to editor C.B. Auder for accepting the poem.

 

 

Calm

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Calm (after H.D.)

I flow over the ground,
healing its hidden scar–
the scar is black,
the bedrock risen,
not one stone is misplaced.

I relieve the ground’s
burden with white froth,
I fill and comply—
I have thrown a pebble
into the night,
it returns to me,
settles and rises,
a white dove.

 

* * *

“Calm” is included in my micro-chapbook Only This, which is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. It made its first appearance here on the blog in March 2015, and was written as an exercise, using a poem, “Storm,” by H.D. as the launching point. I’ve tried to emulate her diction and rhythm, with mixed success. Still, it’s fun to try these on occasion.

 

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The Real Question

 

The Real Question 

I ask myself why I mourn
what has not yet

occurred. Will that last fledgling
fly or will a snake swallow

its gravity before descending
to a separate end? Coffee

darkens the carafe and an egg
poaches amidst the scent of basil.

Sprinkling parmesan on buttered
toast, I wonder where to unearth

the real question, when to look
into its eye. How to read its grief.

 

 

“The Real Question” was first published in After the Pause in June 2019. Thank you, Michael Prihoda, for accepting this piece.

The Most Intimate

 

The Most Intimate

How that blue turns gray over green
at a slight tilt of the chin,
and even upside down
anchors the tree.

Some constellations escape language,
stars looming without nouns and adverbs,
the utterances of the planets
caught in the gravity
of their own situations.

Laugh, but the trashcan is full. The lawn is brown.

There are no gods.

Unadorned statements abound.

Even this sky may shift again,
the most intimate twist
turned full.

 

* * *

 

“The Most Intimate” first appeared at Poetry Breakfast in May 2019. Thank you, Ann Kestner, for taking this piece.

 

 

Self-Portrait as Never

 

Self-Portrait as Never

Within the unknown or could-have-been,
this stance requires certainty, the ability
to stand upright, rooted, implacable,
relentless in the isand the noin time.
I dream of faith, despite knowing its
secrets. Atoms swarm, seed heads explode.
Rivers reverse, the galaxy rots, and at the
center, we fold our arms across our chests
and deny or accept at whim, leaving behind
no footprints, only lost words, some dust.

 

“Self-Portrait as Never” was first published in After the Pause in June 2019. Thank you, Michael Prihoda, for accepting this piece.

Galveston, 1900

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Galveston, 1900

First the wind, then a tide like no other
uprooting the calm,

a visage tilted back in descent
as if listening for the aftermath.

And later, the gardener’s lament
and the building’s exposed ribs,

light entering the eternal
orchard, nine children tied to a cincture.

Not even the earth could retain its bodies,
and the sea remanded those given to its care.

 

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“Galveston, 1900” first appeared here in January 2015. Last February it was accepted for publication in an anthology to be published in 2020, but alas, I’ve just been informed that the publisher is unable to move forward on it. Such is the literary life.