The Tractor of Theseus (National Poetry Month Day 20)

Beneath the barn it’s laid, its use has fled
the bones; it hefts no plow, sits idly in
a sea of tarp that drowns the naked steel
and clings, suggesting wretched shapes beneath
the waves, sailors and wreckage all bobbing there.

The owner will tell: he inherited
that scrap, a warrior from ancient fields
crippled and battered with rust-eaten holes
stippled across the pale and peeling paint.
It cannot drive, it cannot brake, and fuel
spews from the rotting veins; the steering’s shot;
the heart hydraulic will never heave; the
power takeoff shaft is stuck; the headlights
sit hollow like empty eyes; mice stripped
the fan-belt, the filters, gathered all
into the engine, nested beneath their
very own blue sky; the wheels are absent; no
useful thing remains among that corpse.

Yet when the elder owner’s asked, he grins,
and says, “I still have my father’s tractor.”

Such Strange Eyes (National Poetry Month Day 19)

Childhood may not last its allotted due
For, in strange seasons, tragedy may spring
From the earth, wholly-shaped and hungering
Like a fiend fleeing their rayless tomb
Wicked and uncaring, cruelly striking
And eager to glut its maw with sorrow.
As such, I was a child for a moment
Long-lost in time, unremembered, recorded
Only as searing images, hot brands burning
Deep in the gray mass of memory and mist:

The day was mild, and under the porch
A barn-cat became a mother, birthed
A litter of eight; creamy white and tan,
With tiny paws and eyes slicked shut.
I was not older than that cat when I
Crawled through the musky shade and saw her,
Belly wet with afterbirth – at her
Breast suckled seven kittens, and in her
Mouth was one: torn through the neck, limp, half-eaten;
And I stared at her with such strange eyes.

The seven grew, flung open their eyelids,
Softened, learned of contented purrs and hums,
Grew large in small days and followed my footfalls.
Though only known for weeks, I learned
Of them, of their soft squeal when tickled,
Of the small scritching claws, of blueness
Only found in those tiny irises, and
How a brush of their fur could paint a smile.

The rest is known only in strobing flashes:
The mad jaws of a raccoon, covered in
Blood and foam and mud and small bright pinpricks
From dad’s twenty-two; From less apparent
Causes, the sicknesses that swell all things;
And-
And that day in the greenhouse, the moving
Of flowers filling the pallets – my turn
At the pallet-jack, sliding it easily
Beneath the begonias – the small yelp
And crunch, my boiling stomach, the small
Kitten no longer purring, unresponsive
To my petting, to my pleading; such a
Small and broken thing, never to bring or
Feel joy again.

The Hunt (National Poetry Month Day 18)

The lively woods are lonesome
with the creaking of the trees
as swiftly sifting snowfall
gathers ‘round my bundled knees.

I’m crouching by a maple
sanded silver by the snows,
My hands and eyes ache numbly
as the wind slips through my clothes.
The chipmunks crash and clatter
with a clamor twice their size,
but this is mere distraction
and they do not draw my eyes.

The briars set to riot
now I’m watchful for a kill,
and through the nested nettles
swishing tails and antlers mill-
They herd at half a dozen
and their breath beats at the air
And though it is an easy shot
I leave them grazing there.

i have visited this place before (National Poetry Month day 16)

i have dreamt this place before

If you’re new here, I suppose I ought to explain this. So I call this a ‘Cell Poem’ – I don’t know if I invented it, but I’ve never seen one in the wild. It basically functions like a big, clunky acrostic. It can be read either left-to-right or top-to-bottom.

I’m still working on injecting a bit of a punch into the lines, though it’s somewhat difficult due to the rather stringent demands the form requires of each word.

4/15

Can one ever earn tenderness?
I have seen soldiers called cowards for their tears,
And children claimed weak for giving thought to fear.
So what is the deal that must be made?
What devil’s due for compassion paid –
How many scars must we collect?
How many loves must we wreck?
How worn by work, how heavy our hearts?
How far our fall – to what deep parts?
How many bottles, how many smokes?
Must slide the razor its crimson strokes?
What level of loathing must we grasp
To cast aside these fearless masks

The Tick

There is an ugly, swollen thing
Gorging on my brain
With nothing good to offer,
but all of hell to gain.

It crawled on me unnoticed,
Unchecked and untamed,
And drank of me so deeply
I withered to my frame.

Gnawing ever deeper
It grew so great and wide
I bore it like a leaden crown
a rotting badge of pride.

It shaded out the sunlight,
The stars, the waving trees,
Life grew ever dark and dim
from yearning to be free.

There is an ugly, swollen thing
Gorging on my brain
And I will kill it slowly,
And feel no further pain

That (National Poetry Month Day 13)

That
coy glance, that
brush of hands, that
electric moment, that
spreading smile.

That
casual yawn – that
ol’ move – that
arm draped over
her shoulder.

That
sideways look
(you know the one), that
hammering heart, that
eccentric joy, that
chorus swell, that
starlit night, that
sense of wonder, that
soothing light.

That
movement closer, that
tiny distance that
bridges bodies, that
brings together, that
energy mingling, that
dance of eyes, that
sweet release, that
first kiss.

Tartarus V.2.0.18.

Sisyphus is texting but he’s always left on read
And though his phone is charging the battery’s almost dead
Through all the tweets he’s tweeted, of likes he’s gathered none
He longs to push the boulder though that pain is old and done

The blazing wheel binds Ixion, whose lust is his own trap
And weary of the spinning he’s now on a dating app
Though his fingers yearn the left, a rightward choice he must
Of matches still he is bereft and thoroughly nonplussed

The Danaides are posting pics, fifteen times per hour
With dating tips and wedding looks, all well within their power
But they have only one follower and his comments are the worst
And as we all know well,  Tantalus cannot quench his thirst