Snails

Snails

How convenient to carry a home on one’s back, I
think, disregarding heft and plumbing and the shape
of rooms too hollow to feel. Yesterday a box of African
chapbooks migrated to my doorstep, and I plucked
yellowing leaves from the tomato plant by the poetry
shack. Marine snails constitute the majority of snail
species, but we count first what we can see. Everything
turns–the days buzz by like male blackchins swooping
through their pendulum air-dance, and I tally my
diminishing hours from the safety of these walls.
Heliciculture is another word for snail farming, but
reminds me of stars spiraling wildly above my roof
each night, spewing poetic fire throughout the cosmos.
The neighbor mows her lawn and I observe the wind
stepping from treetop to treetop, another sign of the
earth’s continued rotation. Their slime permeates human
cosmetics to minimize premature skin aging, and was
once used medicinally to soothe coughs (I write this
as mucus slides down my throat, a response of the
lung’s filtration system to histamines). There is much
to consider about the intricacies of harvesting slime.
Most snail species consume plants, but a few are
predatory carnivores, which leads to questions
about their prey. Cooked in butter with garlic, served
with a dry white? I spear one, contemplate texture
and move on to the next, leaving behind no visible trail.

 

* * *

My poem “Snails” was published on Vox Populi  in October 2017. Many thanks to founder and editor Michael Simms for giving this poem a home.

Recording of “The Body Gives”

 

The Body Gives

Sometimes the body gives too much.
A tendon frays, the heart mumbles
and no one sees the damaged parts.

Ignoring pain, we continue climbing ladders,
sandpaper breath rasping the morning light.

Little bits of us crumble all the time,
yet we stumble on, pretending.

Then the body kills us with its enthusiasm.

Cells duplicate wildly, plaque explodes.
This enmity within? Defensive maneuvers.

Working alone, I wonder where I might end.

On the floor. In a field. Atop the bed.
Under the surface of a rippling pond
or drifting with smoke

through a snow-clad afternoon
at eight thousand feet. Among
the grocery’s tomatoes and squash
approaching the end of a long list.

At the bar, glass in hand, or in a truck
at a four-way stop, the radio blaring.

Time enough for speculation, they say.
But I wonder: when I jump,

does the earth always rise to greet me?

 

* * * *

“The Body Gives” first appeared in The New Reader Magazine, in March 2018.

 

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

 

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

 

1 (reflection)

Six iterations, alike but lessened in sequence, and always in pairs:
front and back, oblique, the two mirrors becoming four, then six.

A perfect mirror reflects and neither transmits nor absorbs light.

Tilting my chin, I accept reflectance according to its distribution.

Retina as transducer, producing neural impulses.

The images consume no space but the effect is of distance.

Vision is not simply the retina’s translation
but counts inference and assumption among its influences.

The sum and product of its parts: 1 + 2 + 3, or, 1 x 2 x 3.

Angles achieve distinctions apparent at each adjustment.

Turning slightly, I detect movement in each replica.

A six-door cubic cage depicting the bondage of sense and elements.

It is possible to withdraw from this frame.

 

2 (answers)

Does the weaker eye perceive less.
Who conceals the shadow’s death.
Is a distal truth a lie or merely implication.
How do you rid the mirror of its ghosts.
What resonates in the echo’s decline.
Did the light switch subvert the blackened image.
Apparition, projection or visual representation.
When do waves not disturb.
At what point does belief transmute sight.
What fixes the mirror’s image.
Who closed his eyes and saw light.

 

3 (prosopagnosia)

I sip coffee and gaze out the second-floor window.

More light enters my neighbor’s office than mine.

Calculate the difference between illumination and glare.

Looking ahead, I claim no face and recognize no one.

The eye converts a signal from one form of energy to another.

Accepting light from external objects, I perceive reflection as the true arbiter.

The dissected path impairs transduction.

Face as identifier: to make, to do.

Translation: imperfection: diminishment.

Blink.

* * *

“At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self” was published in Posit in October 2017.

Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

 

Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

Having fallen from the roof not once, but twice,
I verify that it is not the fall but the sudden stop that hurts.

The objectivist sense of the little: the and a, my house in this world.

Galileo postulated that gravity accelerates all falling bodies at the same rate.

While their etymologies differ, failure and fall share commonalities,
though terminal velocity is not one.

The distance between the glimpsed and the demonstrated.

Enthralled in the moment, Icarus drowned.

Rumor has it his plunge was due not to melting wax but to an improper mix
of rectrices and remiges: parental failure.

Thrust and lift. Drag. Resistance.

Acknowledgment of form in reality, in things.

When the produced drag force equals the plummeting object’s weight, the
object will cease to accelerate and will move at a constant speed.

To calculate impact force accurately, include the stopping distance in height.

Followed by long periods of silence.

 

house

This first appeared on the blog in December 2015.

 

Self-Portrait with Orbit

planet231

 

Self-Portrait with Orbit

An arced path around a central point, bound to but held apart,
as in night’s returning grace, or standing waves.

In periapsis, you reach out as I slowly withdraw.

Gravity does not prevent departure but prolongs it.

The acceleration of a body is equal to the sum of the gravitational forces,
divided by its mass. I rise from the chair but can’t escape.

Not circular but elliptical.

Where falling away and curving from never meet.

Realizing that I am neither focus nor center, I discover place
in symmetry, in flow and subtraction.

A cloud obscures the sun and you close your eyes.

I wither at the thought of scaling or relative size, or your departure.

In the simplest Klemperer rosette, four bodies cycle their dances,
heavy, light, heavy, light, in a rhombic configuration.

My arteries fill in opposition to desire.

Wanting you, I absolve weight and listen, accept my place.

 

old man grammo - upsidedown

 

“Self-Portrait with Orbit” last appeared on the blog in October 2017, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press publication, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, available on Amazon.

 

 

Scarecrow Ascends

 

Scarecrow Ascends

Fixed yet not immobile, I watch bits of me drift
over the wavering grain, a diaspora of disparate
selves once gathered. Some openings are blessings.
Others encourage dispersion. Yesterday’s coat-breech
is now a hole from which I trickle. Think of politics,
and how the tiniest crack may expand and engulf
its body, how one lie gains heft through repetition
at the expense of truth, driving fear. And to what
end? More wealth by exclusion? Power? Everything
dissipates. Even those mountains looming over
state houses, even the sun and its gravity, even your
idols and their power over reason. Had I no purpose
I would gladly rip open these rags and beg the wind
to carry me high, piece by fragment, to mingle with
the clouds and the rains to come and the refracted
light from afar, perhaps to glimpse something greater
ahead. Perhaps merely to dispel, to become undone.

 

* * *

“Scarecrow Ascends” first appeared in Sleet in August 2018.