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. As luck would have it, I, along with four others, am reading at Findlay University tonight, Tuesday, October 15. Who would have thought this backyard Texas poet would be reading in Ohio?
Even the sturdiest door unhinges
at the slenderest idea of your approach,
and I, fascinated with locks and
the mechanisms of biological
pumps, with spiders and the inhabited
self, can’t help but wonder
what I might hear in your heartbeat,
whether forests or a distant surf
would whisper at my resolve, too late, too late, old man, or simply
laugh at this awkward attempt
to merge and taste the benefits
of your strong limbs and foliage,
your precious resources, your salt.
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…
Do not turn away. Stare at my impropriety
and accept the facts exposed: the mixed,
the blended, the unholy result of the extra-
legal conjoining. Or, that unconcealed
mark on the cheek, brown or black,
a pupil in the eye of the sack-clothed
target. Look closer. Ask your question.
I am the world inside the fermented
egg, the tacit accusation. What you choose
not to see. Feel my breath. Remember.
Feeling Squeezed at the Grocery Store I Conclude that the Propensity to Ignore Pain is Not Necessarily Virtuous, but Continue Shopping and Gather the Ingredients for Ham Fried Rice because That’s What I Cook When My Wife is Out-of-Town and I’m Not in the Mood for Italian, and Dammit I’m Not Ill, Merely a Little Inconvenienced, and Hey, in the 70’s I Played Football in Texas, and When the Going Gets Tough…
I answer work email in the checkout line. Drive home, take two aspirin.
Place perishables in refrigerator. Consider collapsing in bed. Call wife.
Let in dog. Drive to ER, park. Provide phone numbers. Inhale. Exhale.
Repeat. Accept fate and morphine. Ask for lights and sirens, imagine the
seas parting. On the table, consider fissures and cold air, windows and
hagfish. Calculate arm-length, distance and time. Expect one insertion,
receive another. Dissonance in perception, in reality. Turn head when
asked. Try reciting Kinnell’s “The Bear.” Try again, silently this time.
Give up. Attempt “Ozymandias.” Think of dark highways. Wonder about
the femoral, when and how they’ll remove my jeans. Shiver uncontrollably.
The events in this poem took place six years ago. A lifetime ago. Life is good.