Last night I ate half a pomegranate.
Attacked it with a spoon
bursting tiny envelopes,
purple-red stains, white counter.
Spit seeds into paper towel,
unsure if these would wreck
garbage disposal we just replaced.
about a man my age eating a pomegranate.
Almost as much work as lobster.
for some reason.
Haven’t retained that material.
and I’m not as well read
as I’d like you to think.
(a poem from Jason O'Toole's NEW Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "POISON MOONLIGHT", available here - https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress)
(you can also listen to O'Toole read this poem, here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAjz40np2xg )
kitchen window framed,
weds your spectral reflection
in the black glass.
Covetous for your notice.
Looking down on a town
not your own.
lighting your path.
Under your stagger,
sidewalks glow white.
in which sharp tooth
the squirrel with eyedropper, skin, and salt,
but with the darkness
of a punctured shoebox. Do
not cuddle him with your body.
Leave the animal alone.
are wrong for him.
You confuse him. You prolong
his suffering and his death. He will
linger under your guidance,
not to mention the languages you’re
stilling in his heart, not to mention
the languages stilling
in your heart.
They carry betrayal in their stomachs,
in that series of pouches
—tight drawstrings at each end.
Usually, the betrayal comes at them
from their former selves,
who devised a time-delay
problem that another former self
let waft forward.
They betray themselves with bad food, with traps,
with solitude, with the inability
to look at how they spend their time.
They kneel on front knees and wonder
who does this to them
again and again.
i step up to the vinyl torsos
an infant and an adult both mouths agape
i don’t want to think about if these were people i knew
i don’t want these to be people i don’t want people to die
or gasp or feel awkward or have to wake up unloved
or to go to sleep unfulfilled or to have to respond
when spoken to or have to have hopes which may be detached
from their names like the lower half of their bodies
feel sad for the merely surviving so why am i so diligently
attempting to bring these lifeless beings back? why can i
feel the spring mantle of sky crack and wash over my sadness
like a warm yolk? how can i love when the howling floor
keeps howling open? my ankles dangle into a dark
mechanical mouth—the one i am supposed
to breathe into
Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity
The ground is littered with used paper face masks. I want to shake this person and that person and tell them, “You can’t be lost in your own world all the time.” But, of course, I won’t. A purplish darkness creeps over the city. I stream a movie about an international crew of astronauts on a journey to the cosmic womb. The ship malfunctions. Their sanity frays. They slowly turn against one another. Something out there in space is acting like a hulking bouncer who won’t let them through. If they knew what I know, they would just chuckle. A month from now my daughter is having a daughter.
Closer to being found dead,
perhaps in this blue armchair
I bought years ago
at a used furniture store,
but it’s comfortable
and I can elevate my legs
in the company of flies buzz
attached to the sticky fly strips
stuck to the front window
where the house flies land
and pull their bent legs stick
straight from where they hang
stuck with their deadbeat wings
and complicated eyes,
and will I stretch my legs out
straight, try to pull away
from death’s permanent catch,
when the mind lives longer
and tries to escape, cries unheard,
grieves stuck as these insistent flies.
dying loud, don’t need any more of that, so: bells in the ears,
every day Sunday church and I am dressing up, my white
gloves in another century, my hat: a rebellious looking
black beret. I always pretend to be in Paris. And once I was.
Now I am here eating croissants. My moment in the afternoon.
May Flower Moon
landing on earth somewhere in a valley not
yet discovered, but certainly impacted
by an open atmosphere ready to receive
anything from the sky. Now it rains
hitting everything, and by chance neither pure
nor desirable, but nobody yet flattened
by falling stones, and if it gets sunny
maybe a rainbow or is that asking too much?
The moon fills the entire sky, stars bloom,
no one gets hit yet, no one gets hurt,
covered in blood, the moon twists and
turns in red stones, but who deserves
to look it in the eye to say good bye?
My Mother’s African violets made our southern
exposure window a suburban jungle. Deconstructing
fish, her busy hands would bury delicate cartilage
in the potting soil.
The secret’s in the bones, she’d whisper to me, her cling-on,
while we ate lunch and I had her all to myself before my sister
came home from school.
This botanic curtain framed my life through high school.
During college the African violets were gone, damn aphids,
my mother said when I came home for Thanksgiving.
Diseased perennials, the death knell of indoor plants
for my mother. When we were old and older and lived
like gal pals in a garden apartment, I’d hold my mother’s
hand, rough as the bark of a tree. We’d walk along the paths
and admire the apartment’s hydrangeas. My mother took out
pennies from her pockets and buried them under the plants
with the toe of her sneaker and whispered to me,
there’ll be a change in color come next spring. A cane and
then a walker then winter—
I did not tell her it is science not secrets that make things true.
white rhinos see leather, distressed when they look at each other’s skin
left on earth widowed and divorced they are old maids
they live out their days on a beige velour couch
in a strange existential twilight— pinked by the tropical glare
a state of limbo the light fades along with their ancient mother
that scientists call choking in her easy chair
with heartbreaking dryness one sister recognizes the death rattle,
“functional extinction” the mother goes before the ambulance arrives
as two females two orphans still life in the living room
cannot save their subspecies. waiting for their light to be extinguished.
Italicized text excerpted from a New York Times Magazine article: “The Last Two Northern White Rhinos on Earth” by Sam Anderson, Jan. 14, 2021
I just gave up” The angel of despair listens and waits in a kitchen shadow
accused of slaying whose body, so abused by drugs, didn’t even know she was pregnant
Scalded one with hot water the angel points the mother to the bathtub
The newborn baby birthed in a bathroom, midwifed by the angel of despair
Found outside walking his dog, a man finds a naked baby bleeding from the umbilicus
A Queens home outside the brick attached house, a baby cries
Thrown out or maybe it is a kitten, either way it’s not wanted
A bathroom window and the angel of despair looks at the fallen, swears it is
By his mother no fault of the father
Italics from the NY Daily News and the NY Post
across the sky
that we all capture
on phones that barely
carry our voices anymore,
these pictures we then
post to unknown friends
and digital strangers
across the world which
no longer holds its shape,
not asking where the fire
flamed from, nor lifting
our eyes from the screens
to notice the smile
grow wide, a knowingness
in its flickering flames,
even as the sky grows dim.
I DO (NOT) REGRET
though I regret
how I left,
never my strong suit.
But how else
could I have left,
without not living?
Neither of us
would have won
on that one, though
I know you wished for my death
in the years following, anger
of your new reality.
I do not regret
the leaving - my
last lie to you, I swear - but
I hope you see,
when the lives lived after
are measured, that I,
foolish and forever selfish,
lost more than you.