Satellites

“Longing on a large scale is what makes history.”
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
“Most of our longings go unfulfilled. This is the world’s wistful implication–a desire for something lost or fled or otherwise out of reach.”
~Don DeLilo, Underworld

In the year I discovered
I was a lover I was a

glass-eyed and hungry
beast locked behind the
cold steel of my indecision,

unsure of what it was
that would make me whole

but wanting it all, all, all
to myself. How strange it is
to place a stranger, a body

cutting the blustery chill of
the street, into my mind,

by my side in endless permutations
of things I tell myself will make
me happy, a kiss or a fuck or a

conversation that only happens
in the scratchy highlight reel

of my fantasies. And stranger still
this attraction to people who will never
pluck me from the identity parade

of skimmed-over silhouettes; mine,
a wish made yet unfulfilled. I exist

within the shadowy halls of the
House of Black and White, a quilted
wall of faces I’ve never forgotten,

my loneliness uncovered and laid bare
before their eyes. I feel I must give account

for this shortcoming, must provide an entire
history of longing, an autobiography of
warmth lingering beneath the numb rind

of my fingers, my loins, my lips. But how
can you account for the world moving beneath

your very feet, how do you explain its wistful
implications, all rising tides and shifting plates
and stench of peat? And why do I feel I should

be ashamed of being ushered to sleep on the
rippling echoes of the confessions I whisper

to the moon, for hoping that someone else speaks
sweetly to its cratered face, for knowing in my bones
that these lunar orisons float through the cold

glimmer of aether between us, cruising along an orbit
of desperate optimism, but always just out of reach?

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Drive

It’s 1:30 on an April afternoon and I
am as high as the sky blue sky
driving down main in search of food,
ever the model of modern
hunter/gatherer

Through the lens of my sunglasses
the world slumps, spreads itself
out under the weight of its own
atmosphere,
an ice cream cake left on a kitchen
counter, collapsing

I am entirely comfortable,
which is to say numb to
the knowledge of my own
existence
–the weather
is perfectly submergible,
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a bath I’m dissolving into,
losing track of where my boundaries
lie when I shut my eyes, the wind
a ghostly lover’s fingers slinking
through the thin brambles of my hair

Days like this are best spent
in reflection–
I am alive, free, healthy,
and I have nothing
but giddy thanks to give
and the open road to take

Lone Wolf

“The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.”
– Sir P. G. Wodehouse

I.

Against the rise of the August 15 Louisville pre-dawn,
a boy makes music with his feet, each staggered pump
of his bike’s pedals bringing the clattering babble
of baseball card meeting spoke to the eclipsed houses
of his neighborhood. As he moves his legs numbly,

his stomach raises its early morning protest.
He tops a hill, the sun rushing to meet him,
bathing his face in rose gold. He slows,
sets the bike down on the sidewalk’s curb,
pulls a tangerine from the crumpled brown bag

his mother packed for him. He skins the orange globe
voraciously, letting its zesty pelt fall to the gutter
between his feet. He chews its juicy flesh silently,
listening to the hushed buzz of cars in the stirring
metal city. Sitting alone on this curb, he feels like

everything he sees (tangerine, bicycle, neighborhood,
city) belongs to him, like the world rests in the navy
lint at the bottom of his pockets and he could reach
a sticky hand into his jeans and pull out anything
he wanted. When half of the tangerine has disappeared

down the narrow tunnel of his throat, he wipes dribble
from the corners of his mouth with fraying sleeves, pulls
a Courier-Journal from the top of his pile. He thumbs
through it slowly, scanning headlines for a story to tell
his friends at school. He finds it waiting for him on B5.

II.

YES, IT WAS A WOLF, IN KENTUCKY

It’s a wildlife mystery.

The first documented free-ranging wolf in Kentucky’s modern history was shot and killed by an unsuspecting hunter, state wildlife officials have announced.

No charges are expected to be brought because there’s no reason for any hunter to expect a wolf to be in the state, since they haven’t been here for more than a century, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

III.

When the sun rose over the town of Munfordville
on March 16, James Troyer left his home to hunt
on his family’s farm. As he walked through the green
sway of milkweed, goldenrod, round-headed bushclover,

his head was filled with unknown assailants–he could see
his son in Afghanistan being swarmed by hordes of faceless
men in black turbans; he could see the poisoned cells
sprouting again like fungi from the dark, wet walls of his

father-in-law’s lungs. He could not protect his family
from these nebulous shadow-dangers, but in the field,
with his Remington M-32 slung over his shoulder
in American Carry, he could find beasts that would carry

cattle from his pastures, beasts that could hunt his family
and crack their bones like candy canes between acicular
yellow teeth. In his peripheral, he spotted something gray
and four-legged on a hay ridge. From a hundred yards out,

it looked like the coyote he had killed a week before,
but he couldn’t be sure. He slid the Remington off his arm
and raised it to the soft dimple of flesh at his shoulder,
mashing the safety off and guiding the notch at barrel’s end

until it floated between the shoulder blades of the intruder.
He inched closer, twigs cracking like knuckles beneath
his Timberlands, and the furry quadruped bristled. It raised
its head, swiveling on neck’s axis to see the man pointing

his gun at it. It lowered its head and flattened its ears against
its neck, its eyes shining with the smoldering beauty of topaz
in the light and fixed on the two-legged creature. Like his father,
grandfather, and countless other Troyer men before him,

James inhaled to steady his hand, exhaled as he pressed the curved
metal ring, felt the hot rush of celebratory blood in his cheeks
when the beast yelped and fell and didn’t get back up. He didn’t
need to think twice about pulling the trigger—it was in his nature.

IV.

He strung her up by her hocks, laid her
in the bed of his trailer, posed her this way

and that, documenting the animal too large
to be a coyote. Blood dripped from her mouth,

from the raised hackles where the buckshot
turned her torso into a fuzzy sieve, tracing

the course of her sway on the cracked cement
of the garage, covering the toes of his Timberlands,

pooling like a crimson shadow in her wake. He split
her down the middle with a rust spackled bowie knife,

scooping her organs out with bare hands, building
a steaming mound of carnage, sliding the cold steel gently

between her skin and muscles, slicing a few inches
from each side with practiced fingers, peeling furry

flesh away until he had his trophy. When he was finished,
he sent what remained of her body to the state for DNA

testing, where they carved the meaty dagger of her tongue
from its mooring in order to identify what he had killed.

V.

You were a gray wolf, Canis lupus, apex predator
of the wide grasslands of North America for thousands
of years until my kind piled into a boat and ran upon
your shores by mistake. Your ancestors made their homes
where they wanted, forming dens in Texas, the Carolinas,
even California, for a time. The Native Americans respected
your kind, knowing that they formed families that traveled
in packs for life, that they wouldn’t attack man unless provoked,
that theirs was a sister spirit to their own. When we took
this nation, you were our pest, stealing the bison we preyed on
for food and clothing and     whatever     we needed them for
in our colonization tour. We used guns to blast you towards
the brink of extinction, and nobody could stop us; we had taken
care of the Native Americans by then, too. Today, only 9,000
of your gregarious fuzz-faced brethren can raise their howl
as tribute to the moon over this, our stolen country. In our
version of history, you were both a threat to us, so why
would we ever need to hear your version of history?

VI.

What brought you here?

Didn’t you know this land
isn’t your home any more?

VII.

My kind doesn’t like to be challenged. We don’t
like it when something we can’t understand

comes onto our property, threatens our family,
our community. We’ve worked hard to make

things just so around here. We shoot first,
cover our ass later, we are the apex predator,

we can do whatever we want and most
of the time, we’ll get away with it. That’s

why your killer went unpunished. You
are of the minority here, and you were

walking alone—in this country, the man
with the gun will always come out on top.

Didn’t you know that? Didn’t you hear
about what happened to Trayvon?

VIII.

In Louisville, the boy’s eyes glide over the last
sentence of the article on B5 for the fourth time:
Gray wolves have been on the federal endangered
species list, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service
this year declared them recovered, and proposed

taking them off the list. He has been sitting on the curb
for fifteen minutes, eating the remaining tangerine
half with the Courier-Journal shielding his head from
the sun. When he has finished the article, he folds
the paper back up neatly, allowing the light of morning

to flood his retinas. He squints and blinks, trying to adjust
to the harsh rays of the world that had appeared as he read
about the hunter and the wolf in Munfordville. He tosses
what’s left of the orange globe into the gutter and picks
his bike up. He finishes the route quickly, tossing packaged

copies of the daily news onto manicured lawns, front porches,
and gravel driveways. Later, at school, he realizes that ink
from the paper he peeked at on the curb has stained his fingers;
even when he scrubs with soap, he can’t get it off. When his
friends ask him about what’s in the news, he tells them nothing.

They never really care, anyways.

Fibonacci Poetry

On StumbleUpon, I recently found a collection of Shelley Batts’ work that demonstrated Fibonacci Poems. I was instantly intrigued by this new form, which relies on the Fibonacci Sequence. If you’re like me, this is a familiar but extraneous remnant of your middle school knowledge, but it’s fun to play with the form and think about things adding up as you move along in the poem–it adds a natural momentum that you can see as well as hear. While the examples I found applied each number in the sequence to the number of syllables per line, I chose to focus on each number as the amount of words I could use per line.

Cartography

One
word
then two
then three more
and over and over again
until I’m outlined on sheets of loose leaf,
my life whittled down to seas of spilled ink, the graphite boundaries loose
and shifting like sand, each slant a mountain, each dip a holler, each pink smudge attempting to hide my heart’s topography.

Thanksgiving

After dinner, my father asked me
if I had a “type”, and I could have said yes,
I have an agonizingly predictable soft spot
for long-legged girls with flaxen hair
and eyes as steely and brilliant as bluefish,
girls who crash their mouths into mine
like bumper cars and smirk as they cup my crotch,
girls whose fingers cut paths through my hair,
who aren’t as tough as they seem, who use me
to forget about their boyfriends for a little while,
long enough that I stop remembering
that I wasn’t made to be loved fully, that I
am a willing and desperate distraction, that I
am only keeping their beds warm until the other men
come home and I am just a secret they’ve covered up
with makeup, but instead of all that, I hung a crooked
semi-smile between my cheeks and told him no,
the lie slipping as carelessly through my teeth
as I love you from your pale lips.