When We Run Out of Safe Things to Say

As a last resort, there’s the rain
bringing us its imminence as
something to talk about—
will it, won’t it, and when?
Like an ancient game of checkers
on a forgotten front porch
that perhaps never existed,
and maybe we have it all sideways,
should not be so quick to move to
our last resort, as if we don’t have
anything else to talk about,
which we certainly do. But
as a last resort, there’s the rain,
and I think it’s coming any time now,
and when it does, I’m certain
it will really come down.


The Snapping Turtle on the Sidewalk

It remembers a time before roads,
an antediluvian time when you were
not here, not even a memory or
a scent of you on the water. It knows
you are here now, and roads, cars,
armored things ready to crush
armored things with hooked beaks
and spiked tails. It remembers, too,
that the swamp on the other side
might hold ducklings, frogs, some
soft, unarmored creatures that
make it a worthwhile venture,
this slow crossing in a fast world.


Lucifer, Our Lord of Acronyms

Yeah, that’s me, and half the time,
I’m not laughing out loud. You people
just aren’t all that funny. You know
what’s funny? When you get here
and you think you’re coming to
some exclusive club, and you’re
looking around for all your friends
and you’re texting all your friends
who aren’t here (yet), and then
that’s when I turn up the flames
and the torture machines, and
you drop your phones in my
brimstone pit and I just laugh
and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Swag. Satan’s wishes are granted.
Are they really? Well, yes—I find
that most days generally go in a
predictable direction, in my favor.
Beelzebub rules below. That’s me,
too, and I think you’ll find I’m a
pretty chill guy, once you develop
a taste for my pitchfork. But
you may as well know, if you
don’t already: Once you’re here,
wherever it is you came from,
you’re never gonna BRB.

Does LOL Stand for Lucifer Our Lord?


The Pillsbury Doughboy, Having Shot an Old Lady

I said
and I shot that old lady
in the head,
right on
her gray hair.
I have no hair, only
this chef’s hat,
flat blue eyes
blob hands, feet
stupid neckerchief
a person made of dough
Think of it: I am not
a man. I am not
a biscuit. In the seam
between, I become
angrier until I swell,
burst, in a hot car
in Baltimore City
or some other city.
Maybe your city.

Biscuits for Brains


The Hornet That Stung Suzy and Her Friend

Look, I don’t care if you put a penny
over the sting I left you or not.
Big oaf with your giant flip-flop shoes
and your sweaty, pink arms waving
and your stupid hands slapping.
You and your friend Suzy, always
out gardening when those of us
who live here are just trying
to get our work done—
our horneting, our wasping,
our beeing. In the meantime,
the hornets were attacking Suzy
you say? Got news for you:
That was all me. I’m just
that much hornet, too much
for you and Suzy and all your
penny-hoarding friends.
Tell Dr. Mike I said hello, that
I’ll be seeing him one evening
very soon—very soon, when
he’s out on his driveway, all
unsuspecting, and I’ll be there
readying my venom, watching
for him with segmented eyes.

Copper Pennies and Bee Stings


The Girl in the Poisoned Dress

I always wanted to go to the prom
and Jimmy said he’d take me,
and now we’re dancing to “Evergreen,”
me in my beautiful blue dress
so lucky to find it in the pawn shop
looks like it was only worn once,
maybe by another poor girl like me
the gym looks like an underwater disco
the room is spinning—the excitement,
I guess I’ll remember this blue dress
night for the rest of my life

The Poisoned Dress


The Friend Who Tried to Warn the Proud Momma of Baby Girl

I told her not to put baby girl up on
Facebook in her school outfit,
because the pedophiles and creeps
are everywhere, just waiting for
a picture of your brown-haired,
green-eyed girl. And now,
her precious baby girl is
probably in a bag somewhere,
on her way to South Africa or
Bangladesh—you know,
one of those countries where
they do such things. At 3:00,
she didn’t come out of school
because the sex trafficker
got there at 2:45 with his bag
and a printout of her picture.
$2,500 on a silver cyber platter.
And now, one proud momma
cries for her lost baby girl,
but at least she’s learned this:


Stranger Danger


Huggin’ Molly

I’m Huggin’ Molly,
got my walkin’ hat on.
I’m seven feet tall tonight,
and I’m ready to go lookin’
for little ones who should be
safe in their beds, not out
where some witch/ghost/
professor like me can
hug ‘em and scream
right in their ears.
Fool little ears—I’ve
screamed in so many,
all of those children
just like little rabbits,
thinkin’ they can freeze
and disappear from view.
Well, you can’t hide from
Huggin’ Molly that way.
Maybe from Mama,
maybe from Daddy,
but not from me.

Huggin’ Molly


The Worker Who Put the Rat in the Bucket of Chicken

Jerry told me to go ahead and serve
the rat that fell into the fryer while
scurrying along in front of it with
a big piece of chicken in its mouth.
Maybe it was trying to bring food
home to its babies, kind of like
a family-size bucket. Probably
eight rats could have eaten
from that one piece of chicken.
I felt sorry for it and grossed out,
both, and I definitely didn’t want
to put it in a bucket, let it go
out that door. But I guess a rat
and a chicken are pretty close,
when you think about it, and
there’s no real reason we eat
one and not the other. Jerry
said that was true, plus
it’s not good to waste food,
and also we’d have to spend
half an hour cleaning the fryer,
sterilizing it according to
the manual from corporate.
Better to let someone get
a little extra protein,
he said.
It’s someone else’s rat now.

Kentucky Fried Rat