Anecdote of the Scorpion
The cold scurries out
from beneath my bed. Like lampreys
my toes curl. The cold carries
a pair of pincers, a tail
curved like a question mark
separated from the context
of a question. More marks
squirm on its brindled back
(the father carries the young, the mother
nowhere to be found.) Its body
an austere & inarticulate
light. The carpet blends
with its throat. I close my eyes
and dream I lose track of its fragile
presence & spend the rest of the night
worrying it will climb up
my blankets, brandishing its sac of poison
like an antidote for longing.
I’ve gotten so used to flavor of want—
curing myself would do more damage.
I’m fine floating like a cloud,
uncondensed & occasionally effusive.
The cold need not
encroach upon me here, help me
cohere. I reject knowing myself
too intimately. I accept similes on my tongue
for communion & watch the stinger
bob along from a distance,
curiously, like a heron.
Still Life with a Kitchen Table & Paella
The counter is still a counter. The life’s still
there: in the fish, the succotash,
the broth made from hacked-off hen
hackles & the dust lifted
from a grouse’s broken wing. Let the pot simmer
a while longer. Build
& build the flavor. I’ve been spending time
while the radishes pickle in a salt brine
& the olives ooze
oil in their dish (pimentos: unattended
& unused.) The life
of an artist seems to be one of suffering.
Is poetry any different?
Even beneath the chicken’s pale skin, bacteria
stir. The breast beats
with life, throbbing like a tell-tale heart
except it has no tale
to tell, no narrative to convey in small doses
like the sesame seeds
coating a pair of chilled lips. The stove is still
a stove, & needs to be scrubbed
after dinner. My hand is still a chef’s knife.
I’m careful when I use it.