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.

City Girl – Poem

City Girl

Red wasps have taken over, swarming out
from nests tucked beneath the awnings
of the porch. He tells me not to worry,
that we can learn to coexist, that only fear
of each other brings us harm. Yesterday
I took the boat out, felt the current steal
strength from my hands, watched the yellow oar
sink into mud. Instead of rowing, I gave in
to the drift towards shore. Morning comes,
he takes his gun, heads out to conquer,
while I trace gravel roads past
the pasture fence, rough beams of wood
tied tight with twine and rusted nails. Every day
I climb this path of hills, as if rising
to some conclusion, some vital thing,
while his shots slam out like proclamations
against silence. This morning, a wasp flew out
from a corner of the kitchen, hovered over me
like doubt, like thoughts gone awry,
like some vital thing. I left my coffee,
half-sweetened, on the breakfast table as I ran.

Like California – Poem

The Ning community This Life Lived is dedicated through weekly practice assignments to heightening awareness and attention. In searching for poems to fit both This Life Lived and mareymercy’s current topic of attention, I came across this one from my manuscript:

Like California

According to reports, vast areas of the Golden State
are sinking, grating against another age, worrying a world
already weary with fault and fracture.

Once on a day’s hike off Skyline Boulevard I felt it
happening, when I ventured past the designated trail
onto unprotected acres, and a snake confronted me

from a deep ridge in the high weeds, rattling
like a rusty cog choking into motion. For a moment
I was so still I disappeared, willed into nonexistence.

It was not unpleasant, or unfamiliar, as if our meeting
were prearranged, its conclusion already known,
and although I believed I would be set free, something within

began unsettling, as if parts of me would never reappear,
small certainties returned to earth like scattered stones –
just like California, shifting back into the sea, one

sacrifice at a time, each release a small restructuring,
simple as a shell’s ear, dissolving into all our fatal histories,
our gentle rumbling towards destruction.

-originally published in Albatross Magazine