When you say smile, I hear footsteps.
When you say love, I think shortened breath,
an inner tube swelling in the abdomen,
and the magic of tension and elasticity.
Decision, indecision. Bursting
points. The child’s hand clenching
a pin. I tell myself this, too,
will pass, that life’s gifts
balance hurt with pleasure. One
kiss lands in softness. Another twists
into bruises and cracked ribs. Two
nights in intensive care, perpetual
nerve-shredding. When you say quiet,
I see headstones. When you say
please, I feel fingers at my throat.
“Cracked” first appeared in Noble Gas Quarterly. I’m grateful to the Noble Gas team for taking this piece.
I keep twisting my ankle
in this never diminishing
hole, no matter how much
soil I shovel in. If your eyes
grew wider would you
capture light in a separate
peace? Would this green
turn blue while the dirt
concealed the emptiness
and the wind shuffled
through this hollow form?
The air doesn’t respond
but I await the answers.
* * *
I’m delighted to report that my poem “Waiting for the Hole to Fill” was recently published in two Texas newspapers. I am grateful to poetry editor Jim LaVilla-Havelin for taking this piece, and for his enthusiastic support of poets and poetry.
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.
Gathering threads, I join them with a central
knot, producing a sunburst flower or constellation
of ley lines spreading forth and connecting their
tenuous truths – megalith to fjord, solstice to
dodmen and feng shui, suppositions entwined
and spat out. And who’s to say which alignment
stands taller than the next, which rut, which energy,
defines our direction? When I cease to be, will I
remain or dissipate, return in another form or
explode and scatter throughout the universe, the
residue of me sizzling along the starways for eternity
or perhaps just the next twenty minutes. It is clear
that I possess no heart, no internal organs. My spine
is lattice, my skin, fabricated from jute. Eviscerate
me and straw will tumble out. I do not bleed. Yet
the crows consult me in secret and conduct their
daily mercies, and I think and dance and dream
and wonder and hope. Oh, what I hope.
* * *
This was first published at Eclectica in July 2016, with two companion pieces.