Pauses the Fly

A restaurant patio under a shady oak, the sun beaming, a fence laboring under a mass of Star Jasmine in fragrant bloom. I’m lunching with a buddy. Our waiter, a bit too eager to please. A salad, now dispatched. What’s left of a glass of wine. What now. A soft lump appears on the tip of my tongue, in with a sip of pinot. I deliver the lump to my finger discreetly, a wine-soaked wiggly black blob on my finger.

I almost swallowed a fly
and that housefly and I
I guess we’ll die.

Was it the same fly? The one so infatuated with a strip of my grilled chicken? I wondered for a moment if I could pick him out of a line-up. I wonder what it might mean, this intimate contact between tongue and such a thing. The black blob struggles within its liquidy dwelling. My fingerprint is under there somewhere.

It vibrates and shakes the liquid away and scampers around on my fingertips and knuckles. I look at my friend, and he looks at me. This is the way it had to be.

Pauses the fly for a moment
on my nail, then away. A little like us
happy, good with food and wine.

Every thoughtless moment a harrowing postponement of death. We split the check. Our nervous rookie waiter is oblivious to the depths, and obsequious to the end.

Flier, Flier, Pants on Fire

The air doesn’t need to have cracks in it. You can fall right through the thing itself. It plays with pressure and motion, mussing your hair or pulling your boat against currents on a shifty sea. Cup it in your hand, out of the car window. Blow it. It makes shapes you can hear. It’s there when you laugh, the material of your voice. You suck it in when you’re shocked. Release it slowly and the world becomes relaxed. Breathe it, if you want to stick around to see how this all ends.

The airfoil hypnotizes the sky and we ground-dwellers, with a cocky new take on gravity, call it flight. Aloft, we hold ourselves in a makeshift certainty where heavier-than-air flight is possible, our nerves as jumpy about being seated in the sky as they are when a nagging fear gets us to doubting. The cabin is pressurized, the air outside losing interest in the meaning of weight. Travelers impatient, we race ahead through time, out of this purgatory, rehearsing in our imaginations the getting on with it. But objects are always stationary to the geometry of their own locus. The X and the Y form a point on a plane where the pilot admits, through a crackling intercom, that we’re all hurtling to our destinies.

And she even knows the temperature on the ground for when we get there, but for now, the clouds make faces at us through the windows, and the turbulence flexes our wingtips. Intrepid goers and comers with our itineraries and phones, minds in airplane mode, we submit to continuity and see landing as a kind of taking off into an alternate, less valiant sort of sky. Back on earth we breathe each other’s air with a sense of autonomy, a sense of privacy that is groundless. Meeting and parting, crossing time zones, our connecting flight is the unshuttered air above, the midwife of all our doings. Terminals, they are called, and we keep passing through them.

Airport now in the rear view mirror, flying down the highway, who can ever see how this all ends? It’s all just beginning, is it not?

Is it Drafty in Here?

I got 99 drafts
in my drafts folder, son

I got 99 problems, but
writing ain’t one

Blank page, writers block
sorry you are stuck

Bang you out a brand new draft
who gives a flying fuck

Ninety-nine starts
in my drafts folder, son

Ninety-nine beginnings
not a single thing is done

I got 99 revisions
on a simple fucking rhyme

I got 99 changes, and
it still ain’t worth a dime

-:-

This crap right here was completed in 15 revisions, yo. After 25, the WordPress editor throws up its hands and gives up on you. Dude, keep your day job, it seems to be saying.

Seasoning

Is the air, in and out
of my lungs, part and parcel
to a season’s drift into season?

Where would we be, out of the air?

Having days without weather
foundering, lost like a groundless
facile science, ungodly as a vacuum.

The weather is having us, we’re
in its pocket, under its watch
drumming in its rain, breathing in its
cloudless pomp, adrift in its seasons.

At all times, where we are
it seems to know.

Ruellia

Think twice when you plant the Ruellia
It spreads like the devil, I tell’ya
This wild petunia
Takes over and soon’ya
Be sad that this curse has befell’ya

-:-

Ruellia, an ode to my favorite invasive species, first appeared here on October 5, 2017.

Still Life with Meals

blurred

together over time
years, piled upon years
into a kind of composite
where every lurch and pause is
fitted for reflection and echo, and
anchored in appetite, anticipating
the next meal, or fondly
recollecting the last

single minded, this go-round
so thorough it tends to obscure
the births and deaths that
will by definition have
had to occur in there

somewhere

-:-

Still Life With Meals first appeared in the themed anthology Routine, published by Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, 2018.

I’m happy that they’ve accepted a flash fiction piece from me for their next themed annual, entitled The Year, expected out early 2020. Thanks to editor Kerri Farrell Foley. Submissions are still open, hint, hint.

Chipper

When I said I was feeling chipper
I didn’t mean cheery, like a dandy squirrel
with a cache of ripe pecans, no.

I meant like that groaning, shrieking
grinder box that sucks in green oak limbs
the size of Sam Houston’s neck and erupts
in a volcanic, yawning siren like
a Mississippi bigot shouting “frown!”
at a blind beggar, who can’t see his face.

And splinters it, bark and heart, leaf
and bud, into shattered, whip-torn
little pieces piled neat, like bones.

And the air, in the silence bound to follow
every violence, patiently cataloging and
filing all the sawdust that’s gotten up
in its face, is what I meant.

-:-

So, you’re probably wondering, “who pissed in this guy’s cheerios?” so let me explain. I wrote this, more or less, in the middle of the night a few days ago, after arriving home the previous evening to find the sprawling live oak in the alley behind the garage had suffered a kind of vivisection at the hands of the power utility. They had removed a third of its grand canopy, right down the middle, leaving it splayed in its remaining two thirds, parted now to make way for the high voltage wires. It now looks like a midshipman flagging a desperate semaphore. Mayday!

For the last two years, Cooper’s Hawks have nested in that oak, and now I can finally see the nest on the edge of the newly opened cavity. I’d seen one just that morning fly down the alley and pause in that tree, making that ca-ca-cawing call that I associate with courtship rituals for that bird. Well, I doubt they will keep a nest so exposed to the sky. The good news is that the migrant songbirds that come through here in good numbers will be easier to spot and photograph.

Anyway, that’s why I’m feeling chipper.

You can see the hawk’s nest in the upper right corner. There’s another large oak down the alley that they frequent, so perhaps they will nest there.


Common Yellowthroat

Here’s a yellowthroat I caught in the aforementioned oak a few years back. The tree has been a real bird magnet and I sure hope it remains that way.