Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Dry Spot Under the Trees


After dropping him off she drove downtown
where they shaved her forearm and tattooed a sticky sunflower
in commemoration of watching the hungry pines prepare to grind
her Freshman son into splinters and scatter them through the woods.
Orange oily globs had floated on the pale milk of the lake 
during their last meal together at the student cafeteria. 
Her eyes brimmed with bongwater. Bits of gristle 
drifted toward the surface and she held them under
with the bamboo spork until the bubbles stopped.
Arm swaddled in Saran Wrap, she drove back
past the evergreen fence with its mesh of compass needles
to the Motel 8 on the outskirts of Oly and flopped onto the bed 
basted in sweat, simmering in a broth of worry.
Half a bottle of merlot later, she put the news on mute
and yanked the ripcord and the emergency life raft in her chest inflated
She let the current drag he down the carpeted hall
past the housekeeping closet crammed with cans of Pledge
and extra washrags and lozenge soaps
Past the rack bristling with tourist magazines
begging her to visit Raingutter Falls, the Roadkill Museum,
the Cave of the Electric Hairdryers
Past the front desk clerk watching the playoffs
with the sound off, the numbers nine and one 
always cued up on his phone,
until she ended up, as everyone does
in every one of my poems,
out at the edge of the parking lot,
looking up at the stars,
trying not to imagine too hard.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Loneliness

An old man in a cowboy hat
is juggling bowling pins
while balancing on a big red ball
in the middle of the square.
He slowly starts to shuffle forward,
the ball moving beneath him.
Everyone on the train
is staring at their phones.
I think of nudging
the guy beside me
to get him to look.
But I don't.

Love Song

I'm lying under your bed
flat on my back
the wooden bed slats high above me
It's woolly down here
and I was in too much of a hurry
to grab a pillow.
I picture you up there, under the patchwork
Your body barely makes
an impression in the mattress.
The only sound is the gentle flap
as I turn the pages of my book.
it's too dark
to read but I know every word by heart,
every illustration is stored
in the larger book
in my brain. The pictures of you,
the pictures you drew,
the pictures we drew together,
they're all in there.
I hear a thump and the sound of the cat
padding around, scratching in the litter box
in the bathroom. I want to crawl out
and gaze at you as you sleep,
watch your little face twitch with dreams
But no, I'll stay down here as long as I can
though the floorboards are hard
I'll stay here til dawn
before dragging myself out
to see if you're really there

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October Song

German shepherd with a cone around
its shaggy neck.
Clump of black-eyed Susans shivering
next to an empty pizza box.
The rattle of a shopping cart
being pushed behind the bushes.
A mash of acorns scattered
at the edge of the church parking lot.
No more will drop this year.
You no longer need to cover your skull
as you stroll beneath the oaks,
though you still need to watch out for
the black walnuts, the horse chestnuts,
the promises that rain down like stones.