(for Ann Kingsbury)
Brave beaver queen lost her virginity
while fishing for fresh trees
one twilight. The pond with its lily pad
pillows made the perfect divan,
but when her boyfriend and his stamen
lunged at her too hungrily, she slapped
him with her thick, flat tail and bared
her beaver teeth. Slow down, Rocketship.
in this neck of the woods. I wanna see you
drool. She lay among the buttercups,
sweetspire’s downy goose necks tickling her
in all the right places when he finally
got it. Must have learned something
from the caterpillars inching along
the delphinium. He stroked her beaver
fur with abandon, crisscrossed her beaver
belly with his beaver tongue and Hot Damn!
Her body’s music became tonic they pulled
up like crisp summer sheets as the frogs
sang the world green and they drifted
off to sleep in the old stone boat.
Come Another Yuletide
A residual wiggle from my youth
did a wheelie down the boulevard
in a drag race toward surrender.
I’ve rubbed holes in my ruby slippers,
but refuse to pin a gaudy gold sleigh
and reindeer to my chest. Curse
silver tinsel curls bouncing down
my cheek. It’s all fake snow anyway,
but my matrilineal chops can be
as sweet as powdered sugar
or vindictive as weaponized
incompetence, that soft prick.
Yes, I can be a crab apple when we
have 14 tiny spruce, forsythia, and elm
to plant a few days before the end
of November, and I’m in my slip-ons
with a wheelbarrow of water
and a five-pound bag of mulch,
finding a way to help them root
and hibernate for winter, toes
frozen—theirs and mine—while you
watch and will never understand
my razor tongue. In the fake forest
lives an orange fox almost as large
as the deer standing perpetually
in the same position and the village’s
miniature people who never
whistle, but drop to their knees
in mounds of cotton and pray for Atlas
to help them carry the world.
Fire Ants and Frankenpigs
On the day of our rapture, stink bugs
rain from pregnant clouds and parakeets
scream, “Apocalypse! Apocalypse!”
Homer’s progeny vote for Jesus who shaves
his beard, does 33 pushups, and proclaims
the “Like a good neighbor” jingle sublime
before burying his head in the sand.
When armies run out of bullets, men
load their guns with fire ants who march
undeterred to the enemy’s toes, begin
their ascent up his pant legs. He dances
and crackles like a Fourth of July sparkler
quick to expire. Old soldiers wax nostalgic
about how glorious wars used to be.
Acid rain pearls in dawn’s distant light.
Sappho’s bluish waves have lapped
away. To which side of this wobbly world?
While we stand still in candlelit vigils,
scientists bring a frankenpig back to life.
Breathe, little pig yolk. Some pray your gut-
brain will dream a planet of starry angels
and virgin births. But I will hold you hostage
among the does hiding their embryos
in slender crags of ancient caves.
Can we kill the grubby groundhog
who never misses his winter shadow
long as a sloth’s lazy arm? How we long
to become supine hammocks swinging
in rainforests. What we wouldn’t give
for one bead of sweat when the wind-
chill stings 23 below. Bombastic icicles,
stiff as dicks, break their necks
when we enter or exit—artifacts
of a zone that will live in our lore
as uninhabitable by the cryptid humans
who tried to bend it to their will,
who caught snowflakes like pearls
on their clammy tongues just to feel
something melt, ate intestines stewed
in chili pepper, wrapped their numb
limbs in pelts and talked to themselves
because they couldn’t budge
from the fireplace where they puffed
on pipes, slept with cocked pistols,
and only their ire kept the wind
that shook bones like rattles at bay.
See that hulking shadow in the corner?
It’s the ghost of the groundhog
simmering on the stove.
Our aspiration is witchery and grist
turning us into anonymous animals
slick with the residue of dark pools—
muskrat, otter, mink
or the desert’s shifty kin—
armadillo, sidewinder, meerkat
One day I choose bobcat, not knowing
how large I will become as I hover
on hemlock branches waiting for prey.
The next month, a jackalope with antelope
rack. My sham is to make you think
I’m a slick mirage guarding the prairie
of your secrets, but I’ve been beside
you all along with my mute throat,
my lock and abandoned key.
You need a hard shell to keep safe
when others spit their reckless phlegm
in your face, when the anti-sunrise
bears down like a drone flying low,
pesticides in tow. Ok armadillo,
you are shielded. How about the right
to spell backwards, to spew
double negatives like irresistible
ornaments? To gather all the letters
in a cup and toss them out
on the table like an omen?
You got it laughing crow. Now cackle.