Hunger

If it wasn’t for the prickly, quivering flame 

Or the smoke ribbon signalling when it was snuffed

The entangling roots of a plant suffocated

Or the way that it drooped, then crackled, and pussed 

For a shroud of grass blades that prong from the ground

The fox wail in the nighttime, and to know that it’s mine 

Or for the fetus bird with its yellow mouth caved

And how it gapes a familiar, white dreamy sea-wave

When the churn dislodges the embedded debris

And lays it all out on the surface before me 

And the foam over-folds to collapse on the rock

I peel away, fractured as a book in the water

I wring out my stomach like a rotten, wet rag 

Paper cranes burst from the droplets and dissolve on the sand

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Chapel

Find something blue 

She’ll be all doe eyes

Weeping deer crowns

Chestnut deep

In oversized gown

She trips over the long hem

Over glass and black car shell 

Over gnarled, overturned tree

Forbidden jump rope giggles

Wild rabbit witnesses

Stop at the bough alter

In bare feet and mud smudged knees

Makeshift plank chapel 

Blossom cross nailed to its peak 

Pulped painted ground leaves 

Follow Autumn’s heel

Gas station lily in her hair

Ascension on oil slick 

Forming vatican of cardinal grosbeak 

4 foot child bride veiled 

Kool aid for dessert 

Honeymoon in the Motel suite 

7/11 soft serve

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash


Published in The American Journal of Poetry (July 2020/ Vol 9)

http://www.theamericanjournalofpoetry.com/v9-fauna.html

North and Swallow

The way the wisteria crawl the canopy 

And drape down limp, a stretched-out coil

It strikes me as a father’s hand

(I feel as if I’ve been here once)

If the moon snuffs out 

And smoke ribbons down 

(The more I stare, the more it unsheathes)

I’ll look toward the other door

But branch-hung down, the chrysalis silk

Held fruits that swell to fighter fists

Flicker like lighters

Burst like empty ones 

They call it the forest’s chandelier

My breath snags on a branch as my eyes make you out

By the river’s drunken edge

The lamplight eyes

(Are they reflecting light?)

Of foxen gaggling in the brush

It strikes me twice,

harder than before

We met as North and Swallow

Photo by Altınay Dinç on Unsplash

Terrycloth Dog

In a snapshot mother framed

There’s that sweet old toy from our childhood

Plastic pellet-filled, floppy eared dog of white terrycloth

Cotton-head drooping from her hand, by the paws

Torn open a multitude of times but always stitched back up 

Sometimes opened at the same place, those stitches create the weakest spots

If you push it into a washing machine

It might come out store new

If the water, like grey, shiny stones, rinses off parties of a six year old 

And sticky gum and rancid juice

If the drum slamming cracks abraded, 

Glass marble eyes open wide

And stitching comes undone, the tears-

They might open up again

Alarmed by the beeping of a cycle’s end

You can unlock the door to dandelion mounds 

Rain-logged clouds 

Head flattened out

Unravelling limbs 

Red cotton strings 

Suspended in the U-bend

You can nip the skin ‘tween two pegs 

Unfolding and folding, an outstretched flag like a hand

Lingering ‘round the pelt, pin-hole black bugs 

Pinned up as a tiger rug 

Where black stripes are her jewels 

Are her slices, are her eye shards

Are her blown off body parts 

Her lamb throat, her cow heart

Her penance, hecatomb

Midnight vigil, ten years long 

In childhood bedrooms

You can toss it away, just tell them it got lost

And rest in the hovered grasp

At the drooping of the paws

You can let go

The skin will fill itself out

It will balloon—

it will parachute

Photo by Andrew Winkler on Unsplash

‘Nother Dumb Corona poem

Humans evergreen and hibernating 

Enclammed in concave spinal cords, eating

Hunched over hot-white blasting computer screens 

Mirrored like iridescent, plastic beetle wings

These bug shells lined up, dried out on the window sill

The common house spider, butterfly, silverfish

Clawed up in static pose and pawed at by kittens 

Leg raised muscles cry atrophy— placating

Slick crack; an exhale everywhere from beer cans 

‘Nother day like the last, and the other before that

Sirens sound

Echoes rouse 

People from their homes to the streets

Shielding their eyes

As they step out for

The first time, seemingly

I turn over 

And peel away in gummy slug spit strings 

Look back over my shoulder 

The mattress made a mould out of me

Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Dollhouse Through the Fisheye

It’s hard for me to remember, 

But I can start with what I know

Bleaching mould stains on the wall

That trickle down from our roof split open

That grow darker every Winter

Get darker every rainfall

Dad’s gotta get a ladder up there

Patch up some shingles before the Summer ends

Before we’re flushed like the roaches and termites 

When the hose is forced inside of the mouth

The smell of your skin in the shower’s splutter

When you’ve terrapin-basked too long in the sun

Your skin like the pavement in the backyard

Wheezing for some heaven-sent water

Childhood’s an unfocused lens,

Mirror’s fogged, vines choke the trunk,

Clock hands seized up a long time ago, 

This stays in the ground, this stays intercepted, 

Light through the door slashed across my face

Watching you padding down the hallway

Teddy robes and darkened footprints 

Trail from the shower to your bed frame

Old, discoloured bathroom mirrors 

Now more blackness than refraction

Mother screaming you’d buried her keys 

And painted another bedroom mural

The faucet surging and gurgling down 

Water vomits over the sides as you heave

Her body into the tub by the threads of her clothes 

You watch me lock my door— slowly

Playing dollhouse while the walls shake 

Stuffing socks and underwear under the door frame 

Dragged a chair to hold up against it 

Made myself small-

Made myself a termite 

Muscle twitching in the evening 

At night I hear the water dripping 

Smell the pavement wake up to drink it

And put a towel by the wall

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Garden Funeral

Hamsters stuck in plastic piping

Suffocate when they meet 

Pulled out the upturned foodbowl

They were still and almost kissing

Buried them, huddled together in flashlight,

In a box we got our shoes for school in  

Lined with a scarf we hoped mom wouldn’t miss

When the backyard was all wet and marshy

And dad’s gone out to work the night shift

Cause he’d get mad; shut off our electricity

When the slam of his fist threw your eyes to the ground

And his grip on your throat threw your heart out

It never beat the same

Said a couple words 

When brother threw the dirt on 

‘Bout how we’d said they looked like toupées 

And how I was jealous when their sister escaped 

And made a family somewhere else

Photo by Matěj Vachuta on Unsplash

Rabbit Vultures

In the garden 

There’s forever clover 

The hutch is still 

No sawdust raining 

An empty house 

No kicking, thudding 

No bundling of bedding 

No sneeze- or chew of weeds

An empty house  

With the door open

Cloaked starlings sail 

In the black bloated sky

Him palming tarot cards 

His false face armed 

As crooked as it was before 

Carving symbols into my childhood wall

The smell of the brick 

Evens the score 

As crooked as it ever was before 

Pillowed in the road 

Shallow, sharp huffs

And a rigid spine 

Blooming bob-tail bright

Ears tumbling round 

Beaded, Wakeful eyes

Glimmer on sight 

Glimmer in the headlight 

Pillowed in the road 

We lie head to head on the ground 

In the clover 

Vultures overhead circle

We can only blame each other 

Photo by Martina Vitáková on Unsplash

Guts

Evils inherent 

That darken doorways at 2am

That kept kids up at bedtime 

Begged the nightlight til age 10

Evils inherent 

Bury the cemeteries in earnest

Cut our diamonds routinely 

Unscrew sharpeners 

Berry blood beading

Resting cleanly on the surface

Evils inherent 

Shackle our ability 

To see what you see while cloud gazing 

Shackle our chemistry

Settle – stagnate accordingly 

These guts fall out 

Strip yourself of your clothes 

Kick shedding to the floor

Pull back fat, Peel off skin

The wetness and heavy 

Hits wood with a splattering

Tender tendon, muscles screaming

Blue veins balled up, leaking 

like angel hair noodles

From lunchtime binge eating 

Retreat to cocoon shells

Discarded and dry 

Put your wetness inside 

Meat still on the bone like

You’ve been eaten alive

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash