New Poems: "Summer Swallows," "August," "Tabula Rasa"
Updated: May 31, 2022
Three of my poems are included in The Poet's Winter 2020 "Childhood" anthology. Here they are:
When the sickle has finished its work,
we swoop over the sweet-cut timothy
to see what prizes we can find.
What was hidden is now revealed:
a clutch of unhatched pheasant eggs,
smooth as washed sea stones;
golf balls; a long-lost frisbee;
a baby rabbit sliced in half by the blade;
a box turtle plodding through the grass
like a soldier in a ravaged land.
Grasshoppers leap at our approach.
Cabbage whites dance about our heads.
We share the field with crows, hawks,
blackbirds: an army of opportunists.
The hot June sun bakes overhead.
School is out and we are free – free!
The turtle’s little legs swim in the air,
seeking ground. We consider taking it
as a pet but instead paint a cross
on its back and send it on its way.
As we ate in silence the meal
she had made for us, my mother
stalked the sweltering kitchen,
swatter in hand, killing flies.
Outside, the cicadas’ song
rose and fell like the tide.
It was too hot to move, to speak.
Too hot even for the flies,
which sought shelter inside.
They were everywhere –
swirling about the bulb overhead,
batting themselves mindlessly
against the brittle window pane,
buzzing past our ears like engines.
My mother dispatched them
with machine-like efficiency:
a whoosh through the air
like a sparrow fleeing a bush,
then a sharp whack on the stove,
on the sink, on the sill, on us.
“Hold still,” she’d say,
and before we could protest
down came the swatter
hard upon our shoulder.
“Got it,” she’d say.
She rarely missed.
She had plenty of practice
with an endless supply
to slip in doors we left open
or through slits in screens
my father never managed to fix.
Broken black bodies lay scattered
across the room as on a battlefield.
Some when struck fell on the table,
which my mother quickly gathered
into a tissue to toss in the toilet.
“For God’s sake,” my father’d say,
holding up his fork in disdain,
and my mother would laugh, lightly,
like a breeze through the window,
then move on to the next.
I’d been reading Locke in my room,
trying to sense of it for a paper due,
when suddenly the day went dark
and a distant rumble drew my eyes
to a line of storm clouds advancing
from the west, blotting out the sun.
Lightning flashed – the window shook.
Homework forgotten, I watched the show.
Something there is about a storm
that seizes the mind and thrills the heart:
the lashing rain, the electric sky –
the wind that roars like the sea.
Afterward I ran out into the newborn light
that revealed the world fresh and dripping
like a naked child raised from the font.