Reveries Upon the Release of a Hummingbird Moth
Oladele snares Hemaris thysbe in one black palm,
dilates his fingers and the insect flutters unharmed
into the same sky Africa has dreamt of: pearl,
with the appetizing hint of rain
crops would devour. I arrange four pots outdoors
on a table. No wandering lions to fear in Ravenna;
a custard tabby prowls the japonica jungle near my porch.
Oladele points to nupe, to raku, his moth cage
now empty; Make your little God on Earth. But no, it’s easier
to plant living idols with Latin names – Fragaria virginiana,
Thymus vulgaris – ease their roots apart like yielding
thighs, gently mound and pat soil about their apices.
Goitsemedime – God knows how many strawberries
must be planted to please the size of her tongue.
Originally published in Southern Hum, June 2006
Wild Man Hours,
the ones between 3 and 6,
when all eyes but nocturnal
or lost in paradoxical sleep
shade against such lurching scenes—
your shipwreck of a routine. Your bed
has become a plank you fear to teeter,
unwillingly to splash, into unconsciousness
—you’ll drown forever.
Wild Man hair, disheveled into Puukkot;
these pierce the grooves between your fingers,
as you ruffle bangs which bleed unruly
into pallid rivulets ,
dribble like midnight wax upon your forehead
—sunken eyes snuffed—
after the rest of the household has met
nightfall with sense.
In these hours you contemplate
unlit flames. Plan for schemes
forgotten by morning. Island wizard,
incalculable sheaves spread about
your sandcastle’s tower—plots stranded by time.
Wild Man—Yes, you, Father—I know
because I watch through the cracks
of my own sleepless hours.
An Assassin’s Oration
Cursed Cockroaches, scuttling at my feet,
let me ease the pain, straighten my elbow;
one whole day perched
on the sill, high above the Avenue,
nesting like a peregrine.
I know the birds by sight,
fellow observers of speck and spot below;
the white one—mother against the wind, her splayed wing
a shelter, evocative of snowdrift against the pane—
I dread to disturb her.
I know them, when they rest and when they fly,
but now I watch for the target, and a signal from the right
hailing: the time has come, The Man shall be taken
down. So I am commanded, scapegoat for mean hopes.
They mean to say That Man made bedfellows of rabble.
I keep to my arms, soaked in sweat, finger stiff
even as it tenses and thoughts drift through the room,
waking dreams as bold as you 'roaches—
my comrades, my accomplices to murder.
I must not miss. No.