Damn the will. The day’s blotter
has given up the dead:
a girl’s name and alleged act of treason.
A wooden chair for her to sit,
should her location be revealed.
The plume, a plane, a vintner’s glass,
the sprocket in a mechanic’s bag of tricks.
I’d rather the search be
for something regal than the alternative,
a girl in a faded blue dress and a stitch
of remorse along the hem. Her simple act
of defiance was a raised glass and a toast
to simpler times, when a girl could grow into woman,
not fuel for a queen’s amusement, a fire left
to smolder in an open field, the many places
a royal sword can linger over the body
until what passes for allegiance
becomes severed and alone.
A sedan with stolen plates circles
the castle as a guard smiles and turns away.
He knows these are uncertain times.
An Uber or an assassin, either way no reward
in the status quo. Better to keep quiet
as a family tree splinters and catches fire.
The queen is the town’s fodder. Tonight, she
crackles and burns.
This poem appeared in Passengers Journal, July 2020.
A misfire of justice.
The worry of something hard and smooth.
The tactile test of opal along the fingers.
The soft parts of the flower or the hard stature of a man imposed.
In the terrarium of the inner city the lid cracked and not enough
peanut butter to spread the length of four children.
Perhaps a therapy of furniture, two minutes on the couch
in between shifts, an entire living room set $59 a week.
Cigarette butts and a used condom on the sidewalk.
Tobacco stuffed in paper and sold in cartons.
Three days wages at a time.
Here azaleas bloom only in books and a plastic crocodile
in the back of an abandoned car.
Wheels and tires too far gone to tempt petty crimes.
On a street corner a blue light warns of a higher power.
The fact at any moment a man’s hand can reach down and grab you.
The eco-system remains artificially out of balance.
Paint comes unstuck from the walls.
The sun splatters white across a window sill
and nails hum under the strain of it all.
The center of the stoop gives way until from the edge
of the road it resembles a smile.
This poem appeared in the Hole in the Head Review, May 2020.