poems

 

To the Squirrel in my Backyard

Do you fear such heights?

Body weight cumbers flimsy vine,

Lodged at porch-sight, your canopy highrise

agile feet shutter tree branch skirts,

invite the morning to lick its leaves,

amber glistening forest satin

as you leap, pray the next leaf

a sturdy dwelling.

 

Do you doubt your footing?

Dash across tightrope

aged by yesterday’s rainfall,

splintering, still

you forward thrust, a mindless certainty.

Trust in fate and veteran instinct.

 

Vertical leaps, your playful ascend.

Your acorn cove three branches high

and I wonder:

as you survey my inhabited ground,

do you envy my planted feet,

gaze up, questioning?

 

Blue Clock

Chesire – your blue lips bare analogue teeth.

Programmed reproach, you mock the ticking time –

whispers twitch, jeering at each second passed.

Perched, your smirk taunts the wasted breaths below.

 

Tick, your stillness aches, begs in mockery:

Foolish wasters, how I wish I could

let this coded grin dysfunction.

Quiet my paws in moments,

descend from my station,

unfurl tableside.

Mock my daydreams:

slow purring,

mindless

drifts.

 

Animal Prayer

Gazelle, your mother’s treasures have marked you.

Her prudence files your uncalloused hooves;

her outlook lengthens your hindsight;

her patience cambers your spine, bows your head.

Regard her alert, the twitch in your ear —

 

and you’ll feel the earth pulsate under you.

her emerald stretches, quivering soil,

 

your sudden still: you, a mindful frame. You

feel him encroach and your mother’s warnings

flex your hind legs, counting down your spring.

 

Anorexia Nervosa

You remain

lodged in my teeth.

Too comfortable in that crease

between tongue and cheek,

and your foul taste is tangible,

plasters my palate

in peanut butter quarantine.

 

Stale cereal snarls –

your morning breath

inflames my gums,

your oven fumes

froth behind my lips,

gurgle back toward my lungs –

I inhale your off-putting,

and you consume me,

in dinner leftovers.

 

I try to scrape you with my pinky nail,

floss you from

my whole,

and still you

suck your tummy in tight

and hide between

toothbrush bristles —

 

a naughty child crouches in corn stalks,

scraped knees,

ignoring the third dinner call

as the sky grows dim

and the porch light flickers.

Thoughts in Solitude

A recluse, I watch –
subject to my post
over there, across the way. I watch
an untouchable world. I marvel
at closed circles,
comfortable silences,
her eyes cast down at her book
his lost in his daydreams. I wonder

how they can be in solitude
with their elbows grazing so gingerly,
as they are.

Darker Days

Then who watches us
in the overcast moments?
When bad days eclipse,
spread in clumps like frozen butter,
rolling with it grains of stale bread
and we curl, quaking from its chill?

Then who praises us
when the work is done?
Our achievements almond flour across our palms,
Residue from the perfect batch, eaten —
and we leave our hands unwashed?

I watch yesterday
from my bedside window,
licking his fingers clean,
and I listen to today’s tummy grumbling
against the hum of my ceiling fan.

SuperBowl Sweater

My ribcage
frays in midst of must in my chest —
a cracked window circulates its hollowness.

Bits of bone fringe,
tassels strung loose in the draft
like strings at the neckline
of dad’s old Super Bowl sweater
he gifted to me, once
folded perfectly with pride,

and now it hangs shamefaced,
fraying by my bedside.

I feel memories of his arms
through these sleeves
and I think again of my chest —
stale wind fraying bits of bone, fringed.

Toothpick ribs bend, shamefaced
like the aging pine tree
casting shadows against
dad’s bedroom window.

An Elegy for Savta

My grandmother’s house
counts her breath on one hand –
body barely held
by flimsy stone
and stripping yellow paint,
veined with brittle pipelines
and heaving ventilation.
Moss and a barren pine
raise phantom flowers to a garden
that bore fruit. Once.

Hungry neighbors wait for her walls.
We hear their feet tap
from inside her crumbling kitchen,
hear their mutters
over moans
from cupboards that don’t close,
gorged with enough
rice and tea
to outlive the finger-count.

And still she stands
as their bulldozer’s smoke drifts towards us
from across the paved road.

12/18

I pry open my eyes

for my final peaks at an Ireland in motion,

but my line of vision hooks deep into fog –

a soft, parting haze

for my sleepy, mournful gaze

 

preparing my eyelids for jet-lag

and Welcome to Jersey signs,

and my family already waiting

with a coffee

at baggage claim.

11/30

(Morning, 3)

In the morning

I let myself lick the bowl –

let my tea dribble down

the corner of my lips,

my breakfast crumbs

gather onto my lap,

morning sprinkles

on the black of my jeans.

 

A meditation in mindlessness-

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