Boxelder Bug

It’s in your tree.
It’s in your house.
It’s in your dream

of a treehouse
your father built
for your sisters and you

in a tangle of Massachusetts pine.

Something about an uneven ladder,
an exposed nail, a tetanus shot
before you wake. Its blood

red nymph bodies come to molt
into your closed-eye hallucinations.
The international orange outline

of its black adult wings
warns you not to eat it.
It may not be a stink bug,

but it will stink
just the same if you bite
into its hardened shell.

Will taste worse
than any other bug
you’ve tried before.

Its wants are simple—sucking

on seeds like a whittler
on a porch, carving tiny
plump evening grosbeaks

perched precariously
on skinny branches
from flaming box elder wood.

Some days you wish
you could wrap yourself tightly
in an ash gray bark

to protect yourself
from the hungry AI poets
who creep around

the backyard seeking flat oval rocks
to sun themselves on. Swarms
of them start bonfires

in thickets of invasive species
after midnight as they drain
enough flasks of liquid

courage to plot their dawn invasion
through the nearest crack
in the stucco facade.

It’s in your book,

staining your thoughts
in glorious geometries.
Oh, bug, be true.


Why Scold the Blackbird when Pinked

And she wears merlot
on her lips. It’s no slur
to say it out loud. Not a slip

of the tongue
down the throat.
A little too bright, too

hot for her aging face.
And the boundary between
mouth and oxbow lake has become

so blurred.

And there’s no vineyard
on the Vineyard anymore.
And the wine is

neither new
nor old. It plays both sides
of the social construct

when drunken corpses
pass out beneath bur oaks
on banks

of sleepy winding rivers
on humid summer afternoons
in upper valleys.

And a tongue in cheek
reviver will soon flow
into shakers from a steep

waterfall. And it could be
dancing green fairies
released from an absinthe bottle

cause her to hallucinate
her way into a prairie roof
raising before collapsing.

A stampede of pink
elephants making
a mess of the meadow. Or,

it could be the microdot
she swallows while sitting
on a window ledge

on the fourth floor
of a coed dorm
on a perfect early September

day last century (years
before Teenage Fanclub recorded
“It’s All in My Mind”).

Beware those mornings most

this millennium. Or,
it could be she is not breathless
in the presence

of such an evocative mist,
but merely choking on smog
that stagnant air won’t release

for weeks. Or, it doesn’t matter
at all—the natural color
of her lips, more matte dusty rose

than polished ruby, is enough.




And Other Chambers

The egg that won’t
hatch | the bubble
that won’t rise | the door
that won’t burst
open | the vacuum
that won’t stop
whirring breathlessly | the cement
mixer that won’t stir
or disturb the cliff | the escape
room that won’t illuminate
a clue | the camera that won’t
darken your threshold | the night
that won’t end | the star
that won’t be
judged | the cavity
that won’t absorb
the sound
of your thoughts | the cavern
that won’t collapse
into thousands of tiny flaming
punked-out grottoes | the tunnel
that won’t explode under
pressure | the only
catacomb that won’t
adapt | the ossuary that won’t preserve
your movements | the carrel
that won’t hurt
your writing hand
even if it’s
the left one | the flask
that won’t drip
or contain another morning
that breaks too early | the heart
that won’t swoon | the tent
that won’t sway too much
or obstruct our view
of the northern lights | the vessel
that won’t sink
under the weight
of a breath
of fresh air or other
ruin residue | and the vestibule
that will protect
our wishes
including that everyone
slips painlessly away
in their sleep
when it’s time—
no exceptions

Diorama

Don’t just
open them,
raise the blinds

is slang

for find your scene
in a painted shoebox.
Or antique suitcase

before wheels

rolled over
every effort to be
real. Gesso

and stencils

and rounded corners.
If only
I could see

a tiny door
swing open
outside my window

onto an eddy

of unknown origin.
With a spectacular
view of

a spiral staircase

modeled after
the wrought iron one
in the Trinity College

Long Room

without the competition
for attention
from a dramatic barrel

vaulted ceiling

or 200,000 old books
exuding that delicious
vanilla aroma from

disintegrating lignin.

Perhaps it could
have been
constructed from

a nautilus shell.

Sprites streak
coded messages high
in the sky

by nightfall.

Back on the ground,
it’s time to draw the curtains
in a celebration of red.

Yonder


Above a winter
prairie landscape,
the moon

startles me.

In the middle
of the sky
in the middle

of Day 1.

79.5%
illuminated
(I learn later).

A plane scrapes

the bottom
of our
nearest, dearest

heavenly body.

Jetting northeast,
where’s it
headed?

Sault Ste. Marie.

Montreal. Keflavik.
London. Paris.
Amsterdam. Frankfurt.

Black-capped terns

in flight. Draw
a wider
full circle

beyond blue.