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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My new partner doesn’t read my poetry.
Says, they want to respect my privacy
it’s strange to say, that makes me happy, that
my diary is publicly available to read, online
for voyers a full catalog of love letters,
but this kid, they’re not nosey
knows me already so well
that when I confessed to always staying
awake a little longer just to be sure
they’re comfortable enough to start snoring
ever since that one night they confessed
they don’t normally like sharing a bed,
says, they know I’m a huge sap.
So then I tells them,
a few nights ago I woke up
with their snoring arm around me
and I laid there a moment writing poetry
behind the smile I was hiding in the pillow
about the weight of the arm and how warm
and safe I felt for the first time in so long,
and all of those words
sat waiting for the right moment
and maybe it wasn’t the right moment
when I said it
with all the beer and being out
so far past bed time, but kid
I’ve got a lot of feelings.
Forgive me now
for writing a hundred versions
of the same poem you’ll never read
that I will read on raised platforms
to groups of strangers staring at me
who know nothing
of the sweetness in your voice
when you says all these soft affirmations
after making your bed in the morning
or picking up coffee
I want them to know.
I don’t even make my own bed at home,
but it’s my favorite part after spending the night
ever since that first morning this kid
got out of the shower before I was done
tucking in the edges they says, awe,
and I blushed.
My face still feels warm.
I’m extra cautious not to imagine us
too soon, like this extra crispy crust
ricotta pizza done just right,
a savory center and thick, crunchy edges
made for long chew,
contemplative sips of craft brew
I hated complex drinks last summer
but here I sit, sucking down another.
My friend in the coffee shop tells me
I am a sucker for good art
so forgive me universe for drawing out
the image, the flirtatious text messages
turned sappy repetitions
in every scratched out line of poem
could jinx it.
The future plans we’ve casually suggested,
the savory smile I can’t fight back
long sips of laughs in bed, time zone distanced
late late night rolling with imagination.
Call me tootsie
call me whenever
you could chew to the center any time
and I’d stop counting how many
slices of ricotta are left,
I’d bus the tray myself
if I wasn’t afraid to scare off
the sweet maybe of knowing
the center of your heart.