In this drought-corrupted mansion,
where the rust weevils shake their heads and hands
“Nay, nay, fluffy little squirrel.
Nay, nay, little wolf pup.
You haven’t grown your tiger claws yet,
and what made you think
you could follow the bears?”—
This is where I live.
Every day, the apple cores fall on the carpet hall,
the linen closet phantoms nick at the plaster,
and I don’t want to listen
to the gargoyles in the attic,
with all their pounding and doubt-filled, second guessing groans
dripping from the ceiling fans.
Rag doll tenants, driving wing-backed arm chairs:
They sew chicken wings—
with wilted feathers—
chicken wings onto the shoulder blades of mutts and alley cats.
And call them angels.
And toss them from third-floor windows.
And make them fly.
I just want
to strum the ballads out of old brick streets
until the orchid bells bloom the next morning,
dropping sanguine little puffs of
storytelling and rune song into my teacup because
I’m not sleeping, no,
I’m not sleeping.
—T. M. Göttl, Brunswick, OH