Poems of the Week



Venus Tree

I planted my oranges with teeth.
I offered my crush a piece of spiked fruit;
next thing I knew, he was missing an arm.

Could this be transcendence in a newfangled way
or were we just consuming each other? How do we
move past our mutilation into our desired sweet bite?

Forbidden to talk about hunger, we suffer
involuntary movements of the tongue—
weevils, vowels, forking out.

My tongue flicking, my limbs twitching
like orange-splotched salamander tails.
I wanted to chew and swallow, but I spewed it—

a bloody spume of glitter dripping down.


Havoc Yonder World

The hours pass like bloodhounds & flashlights
trailing a criminal through the ever-
greens. “See with what heat these Dogs of Hell advance,”

says the book. (It is safe there.) No room
left to walk out of in eastern Tennessee.
See with what wind the adjectives begin

to disappear. Pasture gone of its gradations
of green, stripped of its flitty-winged, worn through
to its last musky dank. You lowered storm-

screens & deadbolted doors, yet trouble came.
No reason & no right season: it advances
under snow skies glinting as the bluing

on a rifle; under sun-drenched citrus
trees, how like the derailing of a train
it comes, the shrieking wind knocked out of you.

(I put my hand
over my mouth

I put my hand
over my mouth)


To the Student Who Asked You What My Poems Mean

for David Graham

I cannot find my hands. Nor will a tongue against
wet cobblestone help triangulate one’s
penultimate destination. Let us first turn
our desks into a circle. From the street I cannot locate
the original box the Xmas lights came in, though from space
the earth does appear to explain somewhat the question
of surface tension. At eye level one might say
we still share monkey hair down there. Such soft places
grow wild between us. Page 53 for example. Say chesterfield, say
gingham, say Burl Ives. You see I’m only visiting. Can you
not make the reading? For the life of me I can’t comprehend
this motel nightstand testament. I’m a little taken aback
by that. Please explain to me the difference
between indifference and differed inference. Stare down
the cat. Stare down the barrel of a flower. Yes I am
imagining your tantric flush right now. Say dissonance,
because it rhymes with childhood. Allow me to rephrase:
I cannot find my legs, nor is the full-length mirror
perched against my precarious procrastination (see
Appendix A of my forthcoming). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not
guarding my words as much as skinnying them out
for a midnight swim. I shouldn’t have mentioned
“the ear in my chest” nor the probable whereabouts
of “Future Brent.” You won’t catch me
tea-bagging the char of the GOP. Is that too
duplicative? I do not wish to imply
your SUV dredges home the same anchor moon
mind does most nights. So now we know ourselves
better? Regarding the strongest synonyms for subtext,
will this burning geographical survey suffice? I mean
I’ve finally found my feet and they weren’t at all
where I remember planting them.



I know there were years

I lived in the valley

of what couldn’t be true.

But how to explain

the way its inhabitants called me? His violent way

of looking at the world,

the way the hummingbird’s chin

was indigo in light, then suddenly, marauders.

How I fingered my ruffles and wept. You could say it was wrong,

but the moment seemed grosgrain and urgent. So I hung

my belief on a hook (little noose).

Like a slip you might leave at his place;

what was once

so pale and alive there.


all from Barn Owl Review 4 (2011), Eds. Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson

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