Thursday, July 17, 2014


At first light he is
sitting on my chest.
As always, he smells
of carrion, with subtle
notes of charnel.  Today,
though, something new.
Is that almonds?  Cyanide,
he says, his voice
like a Florida sinkhole.
Trying to keep it fresh.
Delightful, I say,
as he gets down
to the serious work
of scooping out
my honeycombed
brainpan with a spoon
carved long ago
from the leg bone
of a beagle, inlaid
with the milk teeth
of a Mormon boy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My Ozark mother would chase houseflies
around the kitchen with a red swatter, waiting
for them to “light on" something so she could give
them what they had coming. When I walk 
downtown, I am approached for a smoke and a light 
because, they tell me, I have a smoker’s face, like
large-pored leather.  Sometimes when Larry smacked
the tether ball around the pole at Farnsworth
Elementary School he would tell me the names
of the boys he thought were a little light
in the loafers, which I knew from the increased
intensity of his attack was not a good thing
to be.  JAY-cob!  DAY-vid!  DEF-initely Mark.  So many
uses for light.  A literary light once called for more
light so he could see to pour what turned out to be
his final cup of tea, forever lacing it with accidental
immortality.  Night comes on.  The curtains gently 
grey. The kids got me that Clapper thing for Christmas, 
hooked up to compact fluorescent bulbs, so that all 
it would take is one optimistic clap for my world 
to light up like a ten-dollar toy-store globe.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Once I saw a monkey walking bipedally down the street.  He was on a leash, but it seemed superfluous; he knew where he was and wasn't going.  He wore a blue silk shirt, red shorts with suspenders, and a yellow cap with a chinstrap.  His gimmick, his routine, was to showcase his manners and refinement, make people gasp to see him pour Earl Grey into delicate teacups for those who left coins in his cap.  “Will you look at that?” they said, and the little girls patted his head and called him monkey-boy. After the show, as his human chatted up the ladies, the monkey was free to behave badly, which he did by screaming at a newspaper vending machine.  I couldn’t tell if he was upset by the headlines—global warming, maybe, or genocide in Africa, or the kitten, no shit, who saved a child—or frustrated at the sight of a half-eaten candy bar someone had left behind the glass, so close, as if taunting him with what might have been his.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


On some summer night she caught us,
one by one, peeked through her gentle fist
to watch our flutter and pulse, then penned us
in glass jars, each by each, lid secured
with a brass ring.  Henceforth, when she entered

the room, she could count on us to illuminate
as one, beat our wings against the glass,
glow the more brightly should she reach out
or say a word before leaving, leaving us
to turn again enough pale gyres to fill a jar.