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.
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
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.
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.
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.
One hole makes the belt too loose
the next one makes it tight.
I’ll have to gain a little weight
to rectify this plight.
Waiting for the four hundredth degree
and pressing the seam on the biscuit tube
A hungry daybreak stalks creatures
at the edge of the sky, it tans peach
and lime at the crack of cabinet doors
the darkness of night’s cupboard
Some ticks and creaks from the oven
heating and the silence of no rooster at all
spilling into the now-comes light
Waiting is the promise of a surety
a door-knock could steal its bell, but
the biscuits, as soon as anything
are due, they’ll be warm, and well met
Considered to be vast
in its extent, the universe
which encompasses all
that could be imagined is enlarged
by the tightness, the constraint of a
mind deluded by grasping.
The smallness of the self
is what begs large the reaches
of the heavens. To interrupt
even briefly, this ghastly inflation
of the considered real, exposes much
—settles nearly everything.
The cultivation and continuance of
such interruption leads to realization
—the condition beyond conditioning.
Following is the foreword from the book Fathoming the Mind: Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence, translated by B. Alan Wallace, with commentary, much of which touches on the seemingly intractable divide between the rationality of materialist science and the direct cognition methods of tantra.
It’s an excellent book for those studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism, and for people like me who tend toward morbid fascination with this controversy, which has been churning ever since they divided learning into the two branches called science and religion.
A face print on a
pillow, still-warm sheets
the craft-of-us, it blossoms
in our every scampering
thought, we will pester the
day’s frame maker for more
pinches and squeals, yet
draw from depths a love
that ever comes, even
as we sleep.
a dimpled morning light crawls
up the arm of another day, advancing
like a rash, and the bathroom mirror
scans my face, while my mind’s eye
forgiveness, like a parade with floats
sure, but the slope of this patch
will drain and pool somewhere
a tepid steep of contrition
that’s what it reminds me of
when we pretend to agree
I zip my face closed and cough up a
smile, perfected in its shambles
and relaxed, like a prickly thing
warding off the bothers
with preemptive skin
the thread of these laundered sheets
that can’t retain the lay of her land
I pull the lint filter from the dryer
and mount it, framed, to the wall
bedposts still lean to the slant of her
repose, window-light leering, wants
are cooing and teasing in the heat
of breathing, I awaken to the elbows
of memory and cool wet spots
the small talk of exquisite missteps
a specter haunting the big tent
with its randy elephants and clowns
Sober, now and then
the color of copper makes
a halo behind things.
Molecules of alcohol bond happily
with any old synapse, but not me.
In group, I do nothing but argue.
But salute! A toast to this nature
that outwardly would cling to sobriety.
Inwardly, it was never
drunk on anything, nor has it
ever sobered up.
Stacks of plastic containers
and lids that don’t fit
—I don’t quite fit her
containers agape, lidless.
Containers sitting open
—she doesn’t love me
and what was contained is
open to the air and spoiling.
The world is the hole
we did into, the whole that
likes out, drenched in starlight
the whole, the world about
sponges soaked in light
The world is of us, hill
over bone, a coinage of the rain
a pose, a lick, a dash