howl

in the wake of our discussion,

we hurl insults like grenades,

like bomb vessels bursting, a

face-off at opposite corners

of the room, and rage rends

the air, lends the atmosphere

a note of storms clawing at

our beached bodies, a volley

of venomous spray, when you

tell me that everything i do is

mediocre and i retaliate with

the observation that nobody

likes you, you are friendless

and alone, always, then you

scream, you stupid cunt! and

the windows shudder with the

volume of our passing—please,

love, don’t remember this, i

walk

towards you now,

closer and closer

with my mouth hanging open,

my mouth is a black hole

growing,

a maelstrom that

shatters my face apart,

a hole from

which

my howl

emerges

coming up to

find you,

grind you, it rises

from the crouched ladder of

my skeleton,

a furious noise

obliterating everything,

it swallows up

     your voice

                     and erases

                                     your words

Departure

Most beautiful of things I leave—

flowers fall to whispered husks

in barren fields, cold, gray,

the spiral of dead leaves

as smoke rises

from dirt mounds.

 

The bones

of an empty playground

groaning in the wind.

 

The echo of the last cry,

swallowed in the earth.

Harrison Birch

If you say “good morning,” he will look up

from his weeding, or whatever he is doing in

the fenced area of his front yard, look at you

as if he just caught you mid-squat in the dirt,

and turn his wrinkled nose away. If you knock

on his door to talk about his rusted Accord

blocking your driveway, you see his scowling

face in the window—his greeting, a middle finger.

He’s been known to throw things. The family next

door know not to say anything as they pass by

on the sidewalk; he will snarl at them, and nod

to Mr. Torkington, their pet Doberman.

 

His house smells like musty papers and

dog food. Scout troops are warned from

approaching his door, a girl fractured her

leg when he had chased her away from

his stoop with a rolled up newspaper.

Animal control makes annual inspections

of his house. One time a concerned neighbor,

startled by all the rabbits, called for a wellness

check. They came and took hundreds of

floppy-eared, snuffling rabbits away in crates,

while he hovered by the front door and sobbed.

 

Spring finds him kneeling in the fresh dirt of his yard

tilling the soil with a trowel, he spies a baby robin

gray and ugly, crying in loud braying cheeps

—sounds too loud for such a tiny body—he

uses the trowel to expose pink fleshy worms

in the muck and the baby bird hops closer,

dodging nimbly between each shower of dirt.

“You deserve better,” he says, clucking his tongue,

and scans the sky for more friends.

Pulse

It’s warm here, with my brother and sisters.

Crowded.

We writhe inside the small enclosures of our eggs.

We are the half-formed: brown translucent pods jammed

side by side in the dark hollows of our host.

Soon, our brood mother says. Long, serpentine, beautiful. Soon.

And then—the drop.

 

We are the fallen, flung from the sky, clustered

in brown globules on the shadow of a leaf.

Come closer, slow-moving snail!

We entice you with our shiny ovals.

Closer, closer.

You are a languid giant sailing across the leaves.

And you take the bait.

You swallow us down your gaping slime maw, and we

travel down the dark length of you.

There we grow.

We grow in this new dark, forming long tubes, interconnected.

We dig our tendrils into your neural circuits and drive you.

We allow you to travel

To where you want to go—for now—

places cool and moist and dark

Running your creeping circuits around

dark undersides of mushrooms and rotten logs.

 

We are the broodsacs.

As we grow, we spread out into your eyestalks

preferring the left tentacle over the right,

As we grow, we grow fonder of you, our lumbering ride

and life source

As we bloom, we dance and pulsate in bright green and yellow spirals

You cling to the darkness, giant snail, always

but we draw you to the light and

the warmth of the sun, which catch our colors,

(we pulse in light only)

We draw the energy for our dance

The dance of death

Drawing the eye of a new feathered host

Down, sharp beak, spearing into the soft flesh of you

And we are drawn into a familiar darkness, down, down—

 

The cycle begins again.

Into the Silence

the currents breaking in

find words

that can’t be washed

away

 

the pain, though tossed

in still waters, is not lost: it

spreads in the black

absence of you

 

and lingers

 

with the obstinacy

of rock-clinging things

 

how do I grasp these words

to cut through the gray matter

 

suspended into the silence

 

the mass of it rises

up slowly, blearily

 

mutely screaming

 

if i surface,

i’ll lose my hold

on you

 

and all these words

these words

 

will be forced

into being

Hydra

We meant to prune the roses someday,

but didn’t. Now a single monstrous branch

bursts out of the jasmine, weighted down

by long-necked heads

untamed by shears.

 

Where one is severed, another sprouts

into a frenzy of shattered spirals

(It is a pleasure to behead)

 

Red-clenched buds burst open and fall,

and leaves behind on each lonely stem,

a naked face

a green-petalled star.

3AM

We hear the first lonely calls in the dark,

although the sea that tramples

the shell-and-seaweed littered shore

seems as distant as a dream

 

Lying in bed with you, drifting,

I see the wave-tossed buoy and clanging bell

See a fat scarred bull, neck twisted back

barking at the iridescent spatter of stars,

before diving into the black waves

 

His mate nuzzles a velvet-sheened pup

and waits out the cold hours,

the slow creeping hand that fades

angry indigo to indifferent blue

 

Outside the window, the sky lightens

shade by shade, the silhouette of

pine branches barely visible

 

Morning taps the window blinds,

creeps into the room and over us,

like a sheet pulled over our heads