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.


(200 Mt. Pleasant)

This house is gone now: you are looking at a ghost house.
I like not being at the mercy of the real: the absence.
I like thinking there’s this one dream everyone has:
it makes me feel more human. Last night I had the dream
about falling. And the night before that
the one where you hit the deer with your car.
It always runs into the woods: you never know
if it lived or died. Unless something breaks
you can’t even tell it happened. The red dot near the rosebush is either
the top of my head or my grandmother’s Pekingese.
I am seven years old: it is midday and I am
behaving myself. My dress remains clean
but I am about to scrape my knee. I’m watching ants drag
a monarch butterfly through the dirt: it takes hundreds of them.
I wonder if it will bleed. I wonder if these are the same anthills
my mother’s brothers used to stick firecrackers into.
They said: It’s no worse than what happens when it rains.
This house had a piano in the basement.
Right outside the bomb shelter. Around the corner
from the washing machine: it’s amazing
what water can do. Maybe someday I will teach my-
self to be cruel. Maybe ants get used to it: the perpetual
building. But I am not yet imagining the future.
I am seven years old: certain that when the floods come
this will be the last house standing.


Icicle Flats

A winter flock whirrs in the upended umbrella of an elm. You take the stairs two at a time. Now snow, now shine. Here’s the answer to a question you’ve keep hidden in your coat. Dishonesty’s the most beautiful thing about you, halo. You slip through a slit in morning’s tin cup. Is it selfish to want what’s lost, for just one minute, back? How long imaginary minutes last. Black boots crack, gummy with ice. Mail’s frozen to a metal tongue. Everything’s blue-white and stern. Birds won’t return until the last pipe bursts.


I Have State Secrets

I have state secrets, please sleep with me. I
have waxy buildup, please light me
on fire. I had a good idea at the meeting
today, please sleep with me. I tapped my beer twice
on the bar and you saw it,
please light me on fire. I read an issue of GQ
and bought a pair of jeans, please
disregard further communication. I read
the phone book and it’s very tiny,
please don’t visit. It keeps getting lost
in the magazines. It’s Tuesday, a day
of the week. Please fall for the line that goes
like this. Please send more magazines. I feel slightly
as if this place weren’t real, please
sleep with me. It truly might not be real,
and the people here part of a hoax
to make you feel bad for not
lighting me on fire. Pulling water out of the bowl
and dropping it back over and over,
please call yourself a cloud. In laboratories across America
they’re solving problems two at a time. Please
have this nightmare where you join a band
in a subway tunnel during a blackout
and you have to sing the telephone book
of some real place. And one of these things
is our joy. The goats look up at us
from the apparatus knowing we’d be lost
without goats. The dogs say they’d be willing to die
if that would somehow help with our
remote viewing. The state secrets are something
you only think you whisper if you sleep with me.
They keep getting lost in the magazines. So this place
must not be real and I will please
light me on fire, throwing myself from this tree
pretending I’m flying over it
as we send state secrets as smoke signals
in the form of burning cities.


all from Barn Owl Review 4 (2011), Ed. Mary Biddinger

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