Bury the Baby Under the Yew Tree: PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 30 (!)

There’s no use now in crying.
He’ll be wanting his dinner,
and there are a great many things
to see to, since you’ve been
lying-in and taken ill. Your sewing,
for example, or a new quilt, now that
you’ve gone and used the old one
to wrap the poor little dead thing.
It never stood a chance, you know:
Sometimes nature takes care of
such problems, carries out
God’s will. In time, it will seem
a kindness. To think of it, though —
using your wedding quilt like this,
which we all spent so many long hours
piecing. I call that selfish, and I
don’t mind saying so. Well. Be that
as it may. Dash some cold water
on your face now, and do
that which must be done.


The Jar: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 29

No one knows
how long that jar had been there
collecting pennies and
singing to itself.

No one saw it
get up and dance,
but it was obvious
that it danced

in the gray, dewy hours
when no one was awake,
not even the parking garage attendant
or the guy hosing off the sidewalk

outside the place that sold
lottery tickets and outmoded cell phones.
No one could remember
what the jar sang,

no one recalled its tune,
after it got up and left one morning,
taking with it all the pennies, songs, and dances
it could contain.


Instars: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 28

The balls of frass
are larger now,
a simple matter of
more leaves in,
more leaves out.
Filaments waggle,
feet undulate,
a puzzlement of
parts that won’t
be needed just
a few days from
now. Now is
almost constant
chewing, with
pauses to split
the skin, and
then to grab,
another leaf.
So many view
as a miracle—
how surprising,
then, that it
comes down to
this chewing,
this effort,
this poop.


Perfect: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 27

Looking back on it now,
I wonder if those fat rainbow shoelaces
were the best gift I ever received,
arriving as they did unbidden
from an Easter Bunny I didn’t even
believe in anymore. Bless my mother for
stockings and baskets for nonbelievers,
admission of magic after fairy time was done,
fat rainbow shoelaces for 10-year-old girls
in the ‘80s. Perfect. Just perfect.


On My Side of Sea: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 25

Across the sea,
where I have never been,
I hear there are ladies
much finer than I,
who dance in red dresses,
give kisses for money,
make bargains that I
never could make. I have
no velvet gown, nor lace,
and only my oven bargains
with me — will it burn
my loaf, my flesh, neither
or both today? But this
is its own kind of dance,
its own splendor, and I
want for nothing here
on my side of sea.


The Mummified Head of France’s King Henri IV: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 23

The mummified head of France’s King Henri IV was lost after the French Revolution until a few years ago, when it showed up in a tax collector’s attic.

— Mental Floss, “10 Facial Reconstructions of Famous Historical Figures”

Why was your head in the attic,
and why did you smell like
“garlic, feet and armpits” —
enough that this fact would
go down in history? Maybe
you had bigger fish to fry
than a modicum of bathing.
Maybe you were busy being
a good king, dancing at
the peasants’ garlic feast,
waving your arms and making
various proclamations as
your feet strained against
your stockings. I confess
I don’t know much about you
other than your stink
and your mummified head.
I guess that’s what
a life comes down to:
Some idiot like me
writes a poem like this,
ignores the fact of
your murder by zealots,
whatever it is you tried
to do with your time, and
whatever put the twinkle
in your reconstructed eye.


He Pierces the Morning with Fresh Urgency: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge

In our courtyard,
in the tortured and trimmed
hawthorn tree, whose blossoms
send their stink into our front window
every early June,
a male cardinal puffs himself up
in a topmost branch
and sings so loudly,
so persistently,
that I worry that he’s calling
for his lost mate.
So often, you see them
first one and then the other;
when you spot the flash of red,
you know to look also for rosy brown,
winter, spring, summer, or fall.
And now there is only red,
and he pierces the morning with
fresh urgency.
Maybe it’s only an announcement:
This is my tree.
But then, where is she?
Maybe in the bushes below.
Maybe waiting until I go away,
until I stop watching and listening
for the answer to his call.