Snails – Poem


Annie Dillard wrote
about them once, how they followed
a circular trail of slime
for weeks without changing
direction, their reluctance to alter
course almost killing them off,
the need of sustenance reaching the critical
before any would deviate,
even the slightest, to survive.
I know how that feels — a process
ancestral, intestinal, ingrained;
fleshy and dense as a slow organ
producing its juices, leaving a scrawl
across my front porch thick
and tremulous as an old widow’s signature
on a bad check, or a trail of relatives
honing in for Christmas dinner.


Cockroach Poem – Poem (obviously)

Cockroach Poem

I am not afraid of obvious dangers; can appreciate
the snake, his contractions and curls, the calligraphic language
of his body in motion. Or the spider and her radial body,
her windowpane webs gathering gnats and beading the dew.
But you, what purpose do you serve besides ugliness,
lurking in lightless places, surviving my appointments
with the exterminator, my daily cleanings, my commitment not
to attract your kind. Last night I heard you whispering
through the air filter in my bedroom, the soft
and unmistakable grating of your wings like skin peeling,
like an unfolding letter of condolence, the black
almond of your head poking through a white slat,
just for a moment, then disappearing, continuing to scratch
inside the air shaft long after I went to bed.
In the morning I pulled the filter out of its frame,
found your crisp and iridescent body wedged into thick lint
and filter fibers. Radiation studies may negate
survival as what separates you and I, but it doesn’t matter.
I imagine you everywhere dark and unacceptable,
a raisin shell skittering over towels and spoons, like a haunt
across a grave, dragging your dark armor of indifference.

Sharkie – Poem

Sharkie (a somewhat true story)

My brother had a fish that would leap out of its tank. He’d come home each day and check
behind glass, search and crawl on hands and knees, fingers cast into seas of blue shag.
We found a piece of screen to cover water and prevent escape, but the fish would batter
his silver body against its mesh like hard rain until it slipped enough for him to fit.

(One day my mother found him with her foot, half-dead again and flopping, the wire screen
nudged over, the tank still bubbling with colored rocks and plastic sea-divers, and she said: enough already. Left him there, didn’t pick him up until he was still.)

I kinda told the truth in this poem, and I kinda followed We Write Poems‘ Wednesday prompt requiring parentheticals. My brother did have a fish named Sharkie that used to leap out of its tank on a regular basis, and Sharkie did occasionally get stepped on. My mother, however, never tired of putting Sharkie back in his tank, and while I’m not sure how he died, I’m fairly certain it was not from one of his out-of-tank experiences. On, and the prompt required three lines, with a fourth line in parenthesis. 

Unnatural – Poem


You say I should get out more, that I
should admire nature, that I should swim
in its decorous wisdom. You say humanity

is the stupidest of creatures, and must repair
this umbilical snip from its own creation.
But what am I to admire? Surely not

the sun, rising and setting its work
each day without question, until it buries
itself against its own darkness. Not

the blinking packs of birds blotting
the sky each simple year, or the hurricane
which gripped an entire city with its bluster,

then wandered off and squandered its power
over an empty stretch of marsh. Not
my dog, who’ll do anything for food,

or my cat and her haughty obsessions,
or the silver maple in my backyard
which has yet to figure out it’s January.

The queen’s wreath in the garden
is greedy, it does not know when to stop,
and the passion vine is vulgar, whores all summer

to the bees that die knowingly in its folds.
And what about the fish you caught last season,
with a rusty hook already lodged

in his opalescent jaw? You freed it from your line
then threw it back, and it glimmered away,
ignorant of its own recurrent escape.