Poems

Sinkhole

We head for the sinkhole that just opened up
in the neighborhood, a bit of news, not on a par
with the rapist’s arrest, but still news, so we cross
the main drag, listen for sirens.

A father and son in the distance
stalk past variegated flax lilies
fresh in the ground, perfect piles
of debris next to overgrown grass.

We pass the for-sale sign near the corner house
rounded so many times, keep going
out of habit. After ambling the circle,
her business complete, the dog pulls

toward the karst, as if to refocus our intent
past predictable points to the downpour’s
new pond, past projection to absorb
the undulating bass chords of frogs.

Soon it’s dark, too late to make
the gaping scene, so we turn for home
back up the trail with our old dog,
who moves slowly, nosing sky and mulch

an animal’s scent in the woods, rain smells
while the water’s weight accumulates,
limestone sinks and the ground caves,
foot by footfall, drop by drop.
— from The Carolina Quarterly

Nutritional Value

Routinely, I order the reduced balsamic
vinaigrette, but what exactly is it?
Is it similar to extra-extra virgin
olive oil, consistency measured in degrees
of pure? All past regret redacted?

Someone is laid to rest today,
the body incapable of holding out
against so many abuses. You make your bed,
you lie in it, my father always said.
The heart reacts. My own contracts.

Someone has a feeding tube
removed while I’m eating my Cobb
at Friday’s, thinking green is good this time
of year, since last evening’s leftover pot roast
will send me over my quota of red

meat, the vitamins of carrots and potatoes
diminished after hours of simmer.
But oh, please don’t forget the bleeding
of flavors, the tenderness
of shoulder falling from bone.
— from Rattle

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