Among certain species of spider
at the moment of arachnidal orgasm
the female devours her mate
for the protection of the young.
The lion stalks his prey, then leaps
tearing flesh to sate a hunger
born of the endless sun
beating down on the grassy plain.
It is left to man to hunt
for trophy, for proof of dominion
over all else, as promised
by a self-created God.
First published in Albatross, Vol. 13, 2001
My muse sits quietly
on the shelf over the counter
in the Café Espresso
at Barnes and Noble
nestled between 12 ounce bags
of Colombian Supremo and Kenya AA,
in the shadow of the plant
whose leaves reach out
to caress her cheek.
She whispers to me
between notes from the guitarist
performing on the edge
of the Music Department
hawking his new CD
to an audience there more
for the coffee and tea.
The philodendron scandens
as I carefully tuck her
into the pouch
of my fleece jacket
for the long drive home.
He is convinced he
is simply squeezing the sun
out of each plump orb.
The sun lies within, but
he lets it kiss its skin goodbye
before pouring the sunshine
into the oak barrels
where the sun will have
time to concentrate
until it slips over the lips
perhaps on a cold autumn day
and a person’s face will brighten
if for a moment and recall
where he or she was the moment
the vine first captured the sun.
The box said all natural.
That alone was nothing unusual,
but it was on tomatoes.
How, he wondered, could tomatoes
but unnatural, or worse still
partially natural, partially not.
Had they cloned the tomato?
Would cloning make it unnatural,
and if so, how could you tell it
from the original which was natural?
And these weren’t organic.
He began to wonder how tomatoes
could be inorganic.
Wouldn’t they cease to be tomatoes?
It was all too confusing
and he was hungry
but all he had was tomatoes
and those he could no longer trust.
This morning I made the mistake
of asking where the coffee beans were.
My spouse didn’t hear me, but Siri
offered her opinion, leaning toward Guatemala.
That didn’t set well with Alexa
who said they were either in the cabinet
over the stove, of in Papua New Guinea,
since she prefers lower acidic coffee.
Probably unsurprising, but Siri did
not take well to being corrected,
and got into it with Alexa, and I
was left trying to interject, being ignored.
I asked the Google Voice Assistant to intercede,
but it only wanted to know which voice
I wanted it to speak with, and
then froze completely awaiting my answer.
Time seems frozen in the checkout line
stuck between the Mars bars
and the tabloids, you wonder
how Liz could survive a total body
liposuction, and further details of how
OJ killed in a moment of lust.
The old woman in front rummages
in her change purse certain she has
the eighty seven cents, the coins
lost in a blue haze reflected off her hair.
Two aisles over the young mother
her jaw clenched in frustration
keeps putting the life savers back
on the shelf as her child, fidgeting
in the cart grabs another roll, until
she shouts and slaps his hand.
His cry draws stares from all and she
stares at the floor as he grabs
a Three Musketeers and Certs.
A man in the express line swears
that the apples were marked 89 cents
and wants to see the manager
who calmly explains that Granny Smiths
are a dollar twenty nine and only small
Macintoshes are on sale this week.
He puts the bag on the scale
and stalks out of the store.
I would shift to the express lane
but I have 16 items and must
continue to wait and wonder
how many incisions it would take
for a full body liposuction.
Previously appeared in Kimera: A Journal of Fine Writing, Vol. 3, No.2, 1998 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008
She says she is angry and he finds that easy to understand. He as given up on anger, he finds it too exhausting and ultimately of such little value he has moved permanently on to cynicism and disdain. She says she finds little benefit in either, and having a certain amount of faith gives her the only premise she has found for moral superiority. He claims he has never felt to superior to anyone, and he knows it is a lie when he says it, for he feels superior to most, except her, for he fears that would anger her. He has felt the passion and heat of her anger an it is not a place he wants to be, but he cannot be away from her for any length of time or he finds his cynicism replaced by longing and that borders on real emotion, which is what he most dreads. Well that, and Brussels sprouts with cheese. Almost any cheese; the thought of loss of love, and under cooked asparagus.