Three Poems

The Estate Sale
The squirrels are skulking up and down the eaves;
the fattening month is here. In pairs, we pole
each other around the rooms; we’re content
to be led, and, pliant bidders, we bend.
We palm her wigs, collect her closet’s brood
of shoes, and sift through dog-eared, bristling furs,
elephantine skirts as sheer as moth’s wings,
and leggings veined with runs. We’ll go away
with ashtrays bearing monogrammed kerchieves,
with hatboxed china, and the TV trays
we’ll later sell on e-bay. Spent or broke,
we’ll find—in death’s uneven prudence—room
for more: her wooden fruits and cloth tulips,
her shatterproof bric-a-brac. All will cope;
the next of kin will manage what they must:
utility bills and dirge, while the rest
will harvest proof that, stitch by stitch, her life
is bound to someone’s dresser, bed or chair—
familiar now, like steps we’ve hollowed out
on stairs, where our treads coalesced to one.

Colossal Squid in Combat
It’s said the monster wrestles whales;
clamping its tentacles around
one’s back, its musculature pressed
against the blubber in grand sprawls
of suckers, teeth, and whirling hooks,
its mass contorting in darkness,
it grants this compact of bodies
recorded in Atlantic foam.
They’ve been glimpsed off Newfoundland’s coast
grappling in slick embrace, although
(here an annotation’s fastened
to the tale) rarely do the fiends
make of their tryst, meat. More often,
interlinked (think of a chokehold’s
precise architecture), they die
before victory, together,
and drift across the floor, the way
furniture glides around a room
during a lifetime. In the end,
the long-tottering leg will break
off the chair, the squid will dangle,
then drop away from its purchase,
lacy with decay. Its endnote
will scuttle along the bottom
of the page, pedantic and vain.

For a Frog
Caged, at home in a glassed country,
you, basker, take to the walls,
balled into the angle of penitence:
eyes lidded, asparagus-limbs tucked in,
pointillist belly on display:
just a thumbnail thing mosaicked
and edged with larvae eggs, planets,
and marbled fleas. I could mistake
the belly for map, the frog for token
or decor: a pellucid brooch, maybe,
or worse: a captive of my need,
a prince tricked into compression--
a cipher for all overlooked
or misperceived things. You’re equal
to my mishandled love, my delicate
and hard-to-keep creature, whose mood matches
all the species of forest green
and swaps their shades to stay intact.
Your belly though is a worry;
the fine, visible tracery
of your tract seems to be a debacle
of translucence. Still, your dart and scamper
are sensible, given my hold,
keeper in locus parentis,
whose care becomes a cage and will--
anxious, other-- turns us against
ourselves. In escape, you misread your leap
and land, little filament-legs readied,
as I dive and clutch, scaring you
into zones beyond human reach.

poetryBarzakh Mag