Passing Time

A poet’s been spending hours online just scrolling Facebook,
hiding from her novels and half empty notebooks,
inflating a bouncy house cathedral puff huff puff
with stained glass windows of neon plastic wrap

and cotton candy stones that never dreamt of rose quartz.
She lets the battery die. The ferns guzzle water on her windowsill
opposite the neighbor’s box heavy with geraniums,
craning stems like giraffes with tongues wrapping around acacia.

A boy dribbles his soccer ball on the patio, shuffling across tiles,
erasing the scuffs of shifted furniture. He fakes out defenders
and shoots bap baff bap into the marked wall, lifting his arms
and calling goooool over chanting fans and his mother’s radio.

She smiles and shakes her head, a mist of Clorox finer
than perfume to cover parquet wax molding oranges,
she’s been scrubbing potatoes for dinner, rocks in a stream losing
their pits and muddy divots, her apron absorbing the sink’s splash.


First Grade Science

We put lima beans in ziplocs with wet paper towels,
misted them each afternoon until roots crept from the bottoms
and sprouts emerged like dancers drawing themselves on stage.

Like a good scientist, I have been replicating for twenty years
in pots and plastic bottles and marmalade jars
until my apartment is a madwoman’s forrest.
Peach pits crack open and avocados dissolve in the dirt
and tomato seeds extend spider legs
and I grin every time like a six year old.

Jiggle the Handle

that outlet doesn’t work,
don’t bother, use another

but only charge
one thing at a time

or you’ll blow the fuse,
the fridge and the washer

can’t be on together,
it’s an old building but

you’ve got two bedrooms
with this mattress here,

don’t open that window
or it won’t close again

and the oven doesn’t
work if it’s windy.

Horticulture Lessons

Mom dug and I nearly helped. Plastic trowel
in my seven year hands not turning much soil. Planting
was my magic step. The possibilities in wax paper packets
I ripped open and removed two seeds at a time.
Don’t crowd them but don’t let them get lonely.
Neat rows of squatting to poke holes drop seeds
and pat firm again again again to fill the raised box
claiming half the backyard. City concrete edged
the rental of those early years together.

There, before the new father
before we retreated my middle grade to the suburbs,
corner bars and neighbors’ eyes stayed open ‘til two am
but the daffodils out front never slept. Forsythia early,
iris late, tulips the whole time.

That first year Mom forgot
to mark the rows. Our thrill at the survival of each kind
a surprise until they reached teen age. I cheered their growth.
My affection without question or condition for the tangy earth
of early leaves as tomato stems grew hair and tight buds spread.
Pepper florets blushed as sunflowers out-stretched me
and the leaky hose hissed like a garter snake the cat didn’t care for.

One day Mom turned a leaf to expose
lemon-lime specks coursing the veins, dancing irregular
jigs around chewed holes and brown spots. Aphids.
I lifted my hand to squash them. Raise their blood a penance
for destroying even one leaf on my darling. But she held
my wrist. No. And we spent the afternoon catching ladybugs.

The Lungs of Ticks

I use a bathtub to drown each one,
hold them under with tweezers
until I am wet to my wrists and laugh
at their curled legs in the whirlpool
of the drain. The next one will burn.
I’ll record the crackling pop
as it meets the lighter alive or
I’ll dissect it as a frog, draw some
secrets from its innards, find out
where the Lyme originates
for the spirochetes to encase
themselves or hatch with yawns.
I have tasted my blood. Salted water
from paper cuts, my hand always
rises to my lips without thought,
my spit to seal the nick.

Organic Shifts

Soy in cubes and bean
and paste, the water
murky for papier-mâché.
Newsprint strips hardened
into craft for third grade history
on my kitchen table.
I made mummies of every
cardboard body, Cleopatra
and Nefertiti painted in gold
on boxes flattened in the yard,
small bumps like tempeh
I would not try without
white bread disguise.
Now in adult nutrition,
flax seeds could be fish
oils muddled with Gulf Sea
black and blue. Upstream
salmon raw pinker than
pastel eggs sitting
plastic in the grass. Leaves
shout skyward as Venus
takes the zenith long
enough for Mars to cry.