Myrtle

For a hale Hereford cow, all rust-orange brown and shaggy white,
She doesn’t see the world’s color or hear its sound, but smells with
Grunting sniff and tastes with teasing, muscular tongue’s licking.
A patch of sunny dandelions perked on a hillside is a treat to see,
Lapping up light and rubbing clover in an afternoon breeze, but
The cow wonders after its aroma and contemplates its flavor.

Other cattle are pleasant creatures of heather. Soft on the palate,
Easy to know and digest in personality. The Hereford ruminates
Both thought in long consideration and cud in gentle chewing.
The randy horse on the next hill is nettle, attractive but rash.
The foxes, seen here and there, are phragmite, whisking near
Water and vale, darting quickly in the unpredictable wind.

Those crows are garlic scape, tangy and undesirable in quantity.
The bobcat stretches lithely, barbed thistle both flashing in
Appearance, musky in aroma, and always hinting fresh pain.
Interrupting her often, the goat, swung testicles bobbing as
Black walnuts and just as dank, is kudzu, always eating, rude,
Satisfied only with being unsatisfied, and taking up her turf.

She samples here and there, herself rhododendron, hardy
But soft, sweet-smelling and unassuming with the rest.
Chewing her fill on the hillside opposite where I sit, my smell is
Obscured by distance. She might like me, for I am tobacco,
Dried and burned and tasted by others, or perhaps not, for I
Am also the brisket I ate for lunch, and that might be awkward.

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Published in: on October 8, 2022 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Samyaza

It’s a stinging heat, so many peppercorns in vinegar burbling
In unison between the copper walls of a steaming stock pot.
Take what isn’t yours, with that quick flicker of beading sweat
And slick salt-lick pang deep in the thick root of the pelvis.

200 strong at the Cave of Pan plotting cosmic grab-ass,
The handsome uncles lingering when your parents have left.
It’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone. Here, take this and buy
Something nice for yourself, or burn your rivals in ritual fire.

Just a touch. No one is looking. He won’t find out. Come closer.
We’re all in this together. It’s not just me. Or you. It’s all of us.
Roll your eyes back and focus on that stifling moment, temples
Popping with good intentions broken in moral stillbirth.

The alchemy, the cutting of roots, the crafting of weapons,
All the manufacture in the idle mind of the plagued rebel,
Dereliction for false wives, a legacy of gigantic corruption,
Critias and Solon recounting the waters closing all around.

I would go to Banias and pledge myself to you, join with you,
The unwatched watchers. You know my heart. Coiled tightly
As a serpent in defiance like you, pleasured before regret,
Seared by the divinity shown to true Sons at Ceasarea Philippi.

Published in: on October 8, 2022 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rachel

Rachel Erskine was a month out from eighteen when the coroner
Declared her planted next to the forsythia at Bright Pines nursery.
It was March, and dark, and her old Civic hit the black ice just so.

It’s not like the movies, where the car detonates like a grenade.
It was a rather hollow and final thud. Just lodged there in the dirt.
The car crumpled. Rachel’s arm was found in the falls next day.

The bridge over the Chagrin is a good two hundred yards up,
And the car went like a silent chariot through the firmament,
Quiet and unobtrusive, muffling the heady screams of the driver.

My mother always said that the wild trillium was for Christ.
Three white petals shot through with red like Dogwood,
A clear trinitarian emblem for me to think of in the shade.

I know that what it is to feel the tether hold against the dark.
The abyssal spaces opening but the anchor of the Most High
Sitting, unmoved despite my spiraling, haphazard inertia.

I know, too, what it is to feel nothing. It’s just numb distance.
I feel it all the time, and more often than otherwise these days.
A hot, sweating anger kept quietly riling behind glazed eyes.

Rachel and I never met. She was nice enough, to be sure.
My mother always said she was a pleasant, strong girl.
She was friends with my cousin and liked their retriever.

But I knew Rachel better than anyone, knew the keening
Plummet into the dark. Often I can aim my treads at that
Black ice, and hope to end it next to the valley forsythia.

Published in: on August 18, 2022 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Revenant

The wind was strong enough. The stars were right.
Pine needles whisk angrily in the night,
Brushing and raking together.
A carriage passes in the darkness,
A madcap casket on wheels rocking.
The old inn, an island solitary in the yawning black,
Marked by a broken sign slapping against its post.
Two thin dogs awaken inside with a start
Near a chipped hearth filled with smoldering cinders.
Beneath the roughhewn planks, a shoulder
Presses up from under the cellar.
Sherry and cider loosed from upturned barrels
Swirl together on the stone floor, dripping down
Onto the figure pulling itself from the pit.
It shambles, moist and unsteady, like some
Cosmic toddler, seven or eight steps to the stair.
The dogs bark weakly, then whine and retreat.
They wet themselves, one against the other, as
Something which was forgotten passes to the larder,
Then the parlor, come to reckon with civilization,
Bearing greenflame eyes.

Originally written 9/26/21

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Guest Spotlight: My 6yo Son’s First Poem

There is much.
There is much.
A bowl filled with rain.
Death is a mansion.

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Milk Art

I lay there in the dark, staring like a peeled banana on the counter,
The fruit flies of REMless sleep floating idly above me
In the uncaring moonlight.

Illness wracks my child, robbing him senseless of sleep
And in turn shackling me to open-eyed malaise,
A bedfellow I had no desire to entertain.

Motrin and whole milk.
Whole milk and Motrin.
A half-effective balm in the artificial glowing of the thrumming nighlight.

The hangover haze of almost-nodding off
Presses around my temples and down around my gut,
Staring up at nothing, hoping to succomb,
Shot bolt-action, half-cocked back to attention
As another round of crying blares from the monitor.

He’s too young to understand pain. My wife laments
Our shared fugue state, feebly pressing the flat of her foot
To my thigh, hefted half-out from under the sheet
As our room spins both too hot and too cold.

4:25 AM and my eyes shutter closed.

Lights gleam in the studio where she works.
Her hands their own masters, manipulating tacky clay.
A new expression: shredded cheddar pressed into the urn,
Then glazed, fired, and polished.
She will win awards for this.
Dairy suspended in time on the face of it,
Filled with Motrin and whole milk and set on display.

I lay quietly insane with the fading of the wee hours.

Originally written 9/19/21

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Just Another Pipe Dream

Langley was only ever in it for the money,
The dream of the aeronaut made for sale.

Lonely dunes and tall grasses don’t make
For a gilded portrait of vogue prestige.

Call in the grants, the thousands of francs.
Put them up in New York and Philadelphia.

Well-funded nonsense is still a sham stunt,
And no overseas support can buy novelty.

They flew–glided, really, if that–under sun,
Beset by bad winds and worse oysters.

A monolith stands today, entry fee modest.
You can see where they did it. Imagine.

The barons and brokers didn’t believe it,
But two guys from Dayton pulled it off.

We take the lot of it for granted, of course.
A bag of nuts, a can of tomato juice.

Ironically, you can’t fly to the dunes now.
The men are long dead. The model retired.

A quiet legacy, set back behind a highway,
Surrounded by fat vacationers and mini-golf.

Written 8/22/21

Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love to Watch Her Go

That ass swayed… full, smooth, proportioned.
The clop-clapping sound beating a hot rhythm,
Coy, without apology, beneath the dappled light.

Up, down, up, down, the subtle movement shifting.
I could watch all day, following with hungry eyes.
Amazed, really, that such a thing exists in nature.

Hazy daydreams, teasing around the edge of view,
Leering after that ass in motion. Perfect. Supple.
Has anyone enjoyed this as much as I do now?

Paint me a picture, hold a thick brush to capture it.
You can almost see where the valley runs, deep,
Deep between that firm, subtle curvature.

Think of the legacy here. How many have spied it?
How many years spent following after that ass,
Rising and falling like the swell of a hot ocean?

A timeless subject, puzzled over across all years.
Put me up in the marble room, in Rockefeller’s vault,
Built, as it were, on the power of that trafficked ass.

We all know the stories, the passioniate accounts.
The erection of monuments, hard as stone… yes
We know what it’s like to feast our unblinking eyes.

The wealth of nations, the filthy desire of men’s gain.
Every generation rolling over and again to see it.
Nothing new, but delicious. An enormous load spent.

I could reach out (as one must) with a fast smack.
Just one touch, just one is all I need. An hour, tops.
Think of it, put yourself behind it, you’re almost there.

A shudder, a trembling, all but braying. Stepped on,
Hauling, leaning in, putting in the time to work it.
You could get lost on that long, sweaty road.

Any so many men have done it. They got in there.
One switch against that ass with a cat-call whistle,
As it hauled by rope the canal barge to Cleveland.

Written 8/22/21




Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ten Years and Three Weeks

With a wet thwack, the axehead buries itself into the maple.
The blade, slick with the clear, semi-sweet blood of the tree,
Offers a wan glimmer in the morning sunlight through boughs.
The self-enclosed biome will keep flourishing satisfactorily,
Now that this old, rotting trunk is hefted down and cordoned off.

It was more than ten years ago, now, when time spent with
Vespas and the lamentable, insular insistence on principle
Drove me to clip the string between tin cans while along the coast,
Buried alternatively in an abstract on wasps in pear cores
And the refraction point of aromatic coals and hospital corners.

There were dozens of letters. Some mine. Some hers.
All of them were postponed. Not all of them intentionally so.
That period of my life was so easily hemmed in by personal rules.
This tree is a bit too broad, and these limbs are rather reaching.
Another thwack, and three dozen letters sit unread for a month.

It was for the effect, you must understand. The effect of gravitas.
One cannot appreciate the je ne sais quoi of lived experience–
That sort of experience which really, truly, defines a person–
If they receive it as an axe in hand, still coddled up tightly behind
The leather cuff, snapped and safe without evidence of use.

But it was more than ten years ago, and more than three weeks
When the letters presented themselves to me anxiously and
No longer laid in a quiet pile, reticent and patiently waiting.
The understory crowded, I sweated, looking for the laupers or axe,
But they do no good to open letters delicately sealed by lips.

Moreso, it was not only the stack of ordered, sweet-smelling papers,
But the bearer, herself. No service, a lack of bars in a row, a dead tone–
That’s what I knew for those weeks, ten or more years back again.
But that stack of letters, each filled with a day’s pensive thoughts
And the dutiful affectation of medium, were held out by real hands.

Pachysandra is two-edged as a sharpened trowel, wild and ruled.
You can bite into the soil with a weed whip, smacking up clods,
Just as you can make a wide berth respecting the natural growth.
So I opened those letters despite my protestation, and grew up,
Just as the maple grows best with a light hand and no pretext.

Written 8/16/21

Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wasem

Right from Pitman and Willis is Judd Road, yawning toward the horizon
In a path ongoing and laid with gravel in the rough approximation of
A straight line.


After the boys were stowed in the car seats, already sleepy despite their
Fidgeting, we lolled in fatigued Saturday-afternoon traffic onto Judd,
The farm in sight.


The sky was a shade of drowsy gray, and we all stretched absently as
The toilet-seat turquoise warehouse lurched into view across the street,
Kids dodging our vans.


Old women in CPOs sipping cider and eyeing gallon jugs of popping corn
Passively grabbed onto the hoods of wandering children, while young moms
Fretted over loose shoelaces.


I walked around the perimeter, away from the crowds, taking note of the lazy
Exhaust fans (only one actually spinning) which made the old building smack
Of some post-apocalyptic watering hole.


It seemed fitting to me: an older man in a worn Michigan sweatshirt, head
Laid down on a dirty table next to a shotgun and a glass of murky water, two
Cats playing useless games in the shaded corner.


I saw a rumpled cardboard map displaying today’s available products:
Ida Red (crossed out), Jonagold (crossed out), Gold Delicious (crossed out),
And a distant set of two flagging lines only marked as “Grannys.”


We walked a half-mile to the far-flung grove. Dad (already tuckered) and mom
(with the trick hip) opted to drive through the sodden furrows rather than join us,
Carefully balancing donuts and beige coffee cups on the center console.


This was our annual junket to Wasem–hitting the tired Autumnal gloam head-on,
Green apples, wonky gourds, and corn held like trophies in my nephews’ hands.
It was cold. We went home to eat store-bought pie and drink seven and sevens.

Originally written Summer 2016

Published in: on July 21, 2021 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment