Cicada Counting

Come, he wheezes, a gin-pickled stink.
Let’s see what we’re about. Sparse hair mid-
summer slick, he spits tobacco-brown
down grizzled chin. Make a game. Claim what
you can. But those honey-colored shells
are hard to spot.
She tracks the tymbal
pulse of locusts out past sow’s pen, out
past barn, on beyond back-pasture to
stands of pine. Thin shells bite into bark.
She culls cracked casings—vitreous, dun
brittles—arrays her trinkets, clinging,
more treasured than amber.
Calloused hands
startle, snagging catch and drag, stalk-downed,
close, dirt-folded, dry shucks rustling. Snakes
in the corn, her long-gone mama warned.
Fingers push out, fumble-count and count
again, each bug a crush, bone snapped.  She
ponders husks—an absence or escape,
whether breaking births dull or dazzling.

Catfish

Bull-headed baby
you chew right through
and forget to spit.
I have to dig deep, foster fat
from your cast-off, that shit
you call love. But hey, this
bottom-feeder’s meat is so sweet
every big-mouth wants a taste.

Convenience Food

My aim, annihilate his appetite.
I place the plate before him.
My mother made me steak for dinner
at least two nights a week, his fork poised to bite.
Never mind that I find it all too tough
to chew and very hard to swallow. I
badly want to say, I try to say, am trying
hard to say, but minced words come so
readily, like the hamburger helper.

Mole Hills

Inside the fence of our rented yard
moles have dug holes, run tunnels underground.
Sometimes, they seem to know where they go.
Sometimes, no. The dogs shag the plot back
and forth, noses mudded from a ribboned wake
of dirt. I wonder if the tiny blind things
sense them, looming there above,
like God, all teeth and appetite.

Turned Pumpkin

Dog drunk, Prince Charming, growls, Come on.
Can’t you just party?
Lighten up. He shucks his coat, sucks
air and off he weaves,
whistling over to a turned-on
Tweety Bird, thinks he’ll
live up to his name. Betty Boop
bounds past, cracking jokes,
a jester to the jubilant
and juiced.  I decide
to hide for a while, hug the bar
behind the Hulk’s back.
A randy Grim Reaper spies me
dying here, closes
in for the kill.  He flicks his Bic
at my unlit smoke.
You must be my Cinderella,
he says, ‘cause I see
that fancy dress disappearing
by midnight. He sways,
grips a table. I walk away,
trip and crash into
a dark corner where Scooby-Doo’s
doing wonders to
Wonder Woman. No wait, I think,
that dog is my own Prince Charming.