I seek out covert like a rare coin
collector. The biddies of disease,
wringing their hands behind
the kale. Tinderbox: they want
to twirl your locks into cylindrical
candies! I vow never to knot
you as a means to keep you. Love as
offensive, love as war paint
of dove’s blood. Around every corner
the potential for a loose
scoreboard. I’m the lookout for
crooked carrot, iron owl. I rock you
in an Adirondack chair, far
from the cone snail.
Originally published in My Seaborgium
My father carried corn oil into dusk:
the translucent plastic like a lantern
held aloft, the yard pared down
immaculate -- and overrun somehow
with a wild stamina. The light
was just ending. The geese were out,
feeding on the seeded grass. They lunged
the narrow slick of their bills
into the loam, weeded stalks
unmindful of the space between them,
the whites of their chinstraps
impellent, unrehearsed, in rhythm to collective
hunger and inner-directed. Larger
than each bird alone I watched my father:
his stooped shadow, his flannel untucked
like a lake spilling over its banks. He moved
outside their periphery until he was nothing more
than pine, a mere familiar. Then I watched him
unscrew the cap and pour oil onto cloth,
lower into a nest of moss and feathers,
into a clutch of eggs I couldn’t see
but knew was there.
The geese continued to eat.
The eggs absorbed the oil.
I tried to pick out the mother
while my father asphyxiated embryos,
his head turned towards the gaggle in humane
say-so. I’d wanted to feel her bristle.
He’d said she’d be misled into believing
the eggs would develop. That not knowing,
she would tend to them the same.
Originally published in Gulf Coast
The Last Travel Agent
She hides honey in a globe.
Her hair smells of camphor.
Mornings, children scatter
heirlooms. Their fingers work the ash.
Here is a mesh of lace. Here is a rope
of felt. Sometimes the stones become the fragile
cups and saucers she once laid out for friends.
Remember the sky
strewn with paper lanterns?
The moon as anything other
than dread? O bird with one wing
heavier than the other.
Air splinters. Like a Medusa head
the capstan glowers.
Geography is spent.
Line them up, line them up.
How does the fable go again? Enough stones
in the pitcher and the crow can drink.
Originally published in Best New Poets 2015