If you want a good conversation
birds should be your first choice,
wading birds at the top of the list,
although you still have to be quick
for if you meander they will lose interest.
Animals are to who you should turn
if you need advice on getting through
the omnipresent obstacles life raises
to impede your smooth passage through it,
but note cats tend to be pithy and easily bored.
Cows and horses in the fields
have almost infinite patience, and listen
when others would turn away, but note
that they are easily distracted so it is best
to keep a handful of hay at the ready always.
And, remember to bring your dictionaries
for birds and animals will speak to you
only in their own languages despite the fact
that they fully understand yours, but do not
deign or desire to be thought of as human.
Now take up the pen
and write economically
lest you run out of
First published in Defenestration, Vol. XVI issue 2 August 2019
“As you get older,” he said,
“the body grows remarkably
adept at telling you when
you have done too much,
or done something you shouldn’t.”
What he didn’t say, the critical
piece of advice I wish I heard,
is that the body only speaks
well after the fact, a lecture
surely, but never a warning.
No one wants to go a step
short, to miss whatever mark
someone randomly established,
but the price of a step too far
is high and often long lasting.
My back sat me down this
morning , and with that smirk
told me the lifting yesterday
could be paid for over a week,
and my arthritic knees nodded.
My grandmother speaks to me
from time to time, in a voice that sounds
remarkably like my own, but the dead
borrow voices, it is so much easier
than exercising their own, and there
is so little need for words once they leave.
She hasn’t changed all that much,
still opinionated, still ready to have at it
with my mother, who strangely
doesn’t visit, doesn’t speak now
in any voice, but that may be
because the more recently departed
assume we remember what
they needed to say, and said
repeatedly before they died.
My grandmother still tells me
to carefully consider my actions,
to never confuse right and simple,
to remember her and never, ever
give another thought to Jack,
the bastard third husband
and the only one she ever dumped.