If courage is
pushing back at the harrowing heartbeat pull
I am a hair tugging lion in the path of a tornado
I have never been so tormented by my own feet
walking in two directions
fiercely seeking some independence
but hoping you’ll stick around for the ride
find me in September’s tall faded grass breathing
it all in and waiting for a storm to turn
this lovely autumn palate to a horse of a different color;
we’re fifty miles into the country side
between the cows and corn and Tracy Chapman
all I want is to reach across the dashboard
kill the engine and confess I have no idea what I’m doing
talk me out of this
if the butt of the joke is commitment I’ve always been the punchline
I don’t know how not to fear being the fool
but I’ve never wanted this with anyone before you
so put em up
help fight off this twirl of terror in my stomach
tell me the twister is just a side effect from years of running in circles
tell me I can put my up feet and kick off my shoes
tell me we’re no other place than home
I’m beholden by a scar that freckles
for the reminder of the sun and such corporeal frailty
markers of moments of change, stacking
pebbles to give thanks, soft whispers through dawn steam
subdued qualm, overdue calm
crisp wind from the horizon brings leaves across the reservoir.
It’s somewhere in the uncanny valley
past the trenches of familiarity and feign
a vain path I imagine would hemorrhage, bandaged by a vice
device drugs of ultimate detachment. The energy it takes
to turn on a machine turns off the self first
all by which we’ve known has changed as fiction forbode.
The thousand dots of damage, surface scuffs screaming age
adorn a breathing being between worlds, woman worn
razed, rebuilt, returned. A substance powered in a lab
and pressed into a pocketbook can hide any blemish
what’s to be done about their other engineered exports,
selfish as commodity as excuse.
Bird by bird the sky is leaving.
The smile is a quick thing to catch in its departure
always a sort of tennis match with toy rackets and pleasantry birdies
that feather shuttle has to fall from the nest tree sometime
and scuttle away before the weather drops again
sweaters just won’t cut it this time, rain boots
are more utility than a homecoming parade rileing support
the storms keep adding extra knuckles to my hands
so the quill she gave me doesn’t tickle pink anymore
it sits in a drawer under a window the high
schoolers walk past in their team colors
the toothy grins flying back and forth
among them almost softens the ache of the wisdom
tooth I ought to do something about. A tree is turning late
at the end of the road. The nest branch in hand is a knee jerk from dust.
A mealworm crawled through my ear.
is making pathways between brain folds,
these little buggers become beetles
not unlike a cockroach, equally upsetting
to find in anything you trust
like a dinner with friends ruined by the writhing
or a suspect kitchen, how many are in the walls
for one to be spotted in the open
ballsey little vermin.
This one in my head
left a trail, the ear, I can still feel
tickling hairs raising one by one
he is in there deep and I am
grabbing tweezers to dig out.
The sight of crawly bugs doesn’t frighten me,
spiders are welcome in my home,
I often name them and give thanks
for keeping out invasive ants
and easily startled stink bugs
this mealworm is just disgusting, a larval
stunted from adulthood, a spineless
parasite that could only be useful to science
to study manipulation
by cutting it open we could maybe understand
what wild bacteria make up this tiny monstrosity,
for any of it to be possible
for anyone to find it palatable
gives me chills.
So best to discard this to the trash, again.
Spend a few hours in meditation
to clear up the stress its threat set in
and massage the brain folds
back into a calm arrangement
a clean environment free from pests.
This is not the first time a foul creature disturbed my solace,
The difference now is I won’t let it last.
It is another prime number year
and yea you could say I’m a little on edge about it.
Since ’07 the 29th has cast clouds beyond the edge
of winter bringing in the April showers
a few days earlier every repetition.
I was 13 then, then she was 19, him 23, it was ’17
forgive me for finding patterns where there might not be anything more significant than grief
it’s impossible not to. When calls come in
at odd hours I hold my breath before I answer
just in case those robo-dialars are another loss on the line
my mind does not know how not to expect repetition,
and every time I find myself near crying
over a cruise line time share offer
or an IRS urgent matter, I know
I’m just telling the spammers
this line is viable
but you know what,
call me up.
I’m out here
pacing parking lots just beyond burial plots by myself
because what is being alive if never being alone
with the universe’s biggest unknown
of where they’ve gone if at all and a singular known law of numbers,
that two smaller can’t multiply to create it,
that if someone were out in this wind with me
we couldn’t do anything to rid of this
antiholiday, it is on my calender indefinitely.
The end of March is marred by loss
rather than the promise of spring sun,
and this time around
I’ve been answering all the Nigerian
heirs to crowns of kingdoms
I’ve never heard of and I tell them all
I only accept inheritance sums that are prime
If I’m the big winner I want my pay out in two days,
I ask them what they do with the dead in their cultures, why
not steal those identities
I ask, if they believe
in numbers or patterns
what difference anyway
the bashful smile, the singing one. coquettish and without qualm, a rock song
guitar wailing warm; grabbing the tab, offering to drive, coffee in mason
jars. little things to be shared, no one’s to carry. gestures
the quickest to the draw shooting for stary eyes, a glimpse of coy
you got me partner. kick the spurs from these boots, this wild
whistling winter around the corner might snow us in
but that wind howling smile, the bashful one rosing your cheeks,
coming up over the crochet like a campsite sunrise in east Oregon, boy is it warm.
if I could nap all day under it I would, tell you to take the day off and get back under the covers
but the car is heated up, the walkway cleared, the bed is tucked in and there is chameleon brew on our breath
Full poem, The Astronaut, published by UWA in The Poets of New England, an anthology avalibile online and in select stores.
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