Moon in a town sky,
Half shut, dark one way from the middle,
Above a creek with spring peepers.
Homeward all alone, after joy,
Hands in pockets, making a thoughtful way
Over the bridge, down the street.
No voices, no women,
And a solemn unsteadiness of all things.
"Language as Self-Defense"
Downsizing, his boss calls firing my friend.
Restructuring. She wants him to think
it's not a problem; it's an opportunity.
In the same vein, doctors call agony discomfort;
Mom called death passing away.
The women my friend tries to date
say they're busy the same way his mother
said husky when the world saw fat.
After rain, my desert tortoises drag
from their burrow: mud-caked, living rocks
amid the dandelions and devil grass
I call my lawn. An hour of sun,
and the male will be chasing the female
around the yard. He'll bite her feet,
and ram her shell to show who's boss;
then they'll make love, my neighbor calls it
when she protests the male's loud huffing,
the primal scene "my kids might see!"
"It's so easy for turtles," my friend says,
means, "Nothing's easy for me."
He's right. He's not even my friend,
actually --just a guy who won't let me
forget the discomforts of junior high.
Today he talks of checking out.
And though I tell him, Hang in there.
Getting canned could be a blessing in disguise,
I want to say, "You're right. Death
would be good for you." when I'm with him,
my well-paid job, pretty wife, and bright
prospects shake like an image in water
slapped by wind. I invent places
I've got to go, things I've got to do,
and tell him, It'll all work out, I promise you.
---Charles Harper Webb
The storm broke, and it rained,
And water rose in the pool,
And frogs hopped into the gutter,
With their skins of yellow and green,
And just their eyes shining above the surface
Of the warm solution of slime.
At night, when fireflies trace
Light-lines between the trees and flowers
the frogs speak to each other
In rhythm. the sound is monstrous,
But their voices are filled with satisfaction.
In the city I pine for the country;
In the country I long for conversation --
Our happy croaking.
Sabbath breaks with the swish and plop
of leaping salmon, pressing against the slush
of river bend, bloated with seed and egg.
Elated by her crazy muscle and fin
she tries to fly across the bow, but plats
on the slippery deck among the tackle, rope and rubber.
Scaled, the salmon's belly is soft,
the knife parts the blue black skin
spilling viscera -- this riot of blood animated
like the bubbles of air breeding in the wake
of the cutting propellers plow through the sea
We salt the tender flesh in the Bay
and bake her dripping lemon and honey
on an abondoned rock beach. and on this blue
ecumenical morning we break red flesh
with bread on our scaled knees, eyes glazed
with gratitude. The sun settles above
the upturned cone of pine trees; the hill
for a moment is black, and then light
washes its slopes with tender green.
For what we are about to receive . . .