Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You're Not Serious?

Mike woke me from a dream where
the baby I'd forgotten in the car turns
into a kitten. Baby or kitten peed
on the car floor where I'd left a borrowed
& signed book. I have a difficult time
parking – where's the brake? – clutch
the kitten tightly as I follow the clerk into
the store, a dreamscape that lingers
through the morning, does the dream
set the tone for my day? The sunlight
pours a golden pool on the ocean
under blue & white cloud & dark
cloud, the mynah chides, our cat sleeps
in Mike's chair. The baby has short dark
hair & wears a blue- & white-striped
T-shirt, a sagging diaper. She suffers
no distress, is happy to see me. Black
kitten, silky handful, taut sinews of
cling. Pictures are everything: the
forgotten baby's head appears in my rear
view mirror, & my guilt is short lived
because Look: the baby is fine, will
likely grow up to be a drinks industry
professional, work in hostel/bar Almacén
in Cafayate where the Internet
password is sapopanza (sapo in Spanish
means toad, 5 or 6 at a time spend
the day in a pool of rainwater at the
bottom of Ginny's pool. I would need
to stay awake all night to see how
they climb the vertical walls to
escape, they must, because I've never
seen a dead one, unless a carancho
dives down to carry it off.) Why replace
a toilet? Is it cracked or merely stained?
In Tucumán I found myself locked in
a bathroom because I didn't know
to ask the proprietor for the door
handle, how the people stared when I
emerged, the woman who had been
screaming Help! ¡Ayudame! Stupid
tourist. Even Mike was confused. The
ocean is silver, with white streaks, birds
streak past the picture window. What
makes a poem is shape, surprises
that make the heart lurch, words that
make a picture, the pool of pee where
the book lay, a corn-colored paperback
book in a shallow puddle of pee, the
shape of the puddle on the car floor
mats, its fractal repeats. I didn't ask
to borrow the book. How will I explain
to Debbie or Jane whose friendship
I take for granted. The author had
signed the book, "To my dear friend
Jane," now pulp of various colors,
the poems merged into fibrous
soup with a pungent odor, the baby's
bottom sporting an angry rash. Had
she not shapeshifted to a kitten I
would have removed the diaper &
rinsed her clean, carried her bare
into the store to buy the toilet, the utility
of which escapes her. It's important
to hold tight to a cat in a public
place lest it escape & become
lost, like Flora's cat that broke loose
on the way to the vet to be micro-
chipped so that if he were lost &
found, he could be returned to his
grieving owner. He never returned
or was found, which proved that the
nameless yellow cat that shows up
& fights with our black & white cat
wasn't Flora's cat after all: Nameless
occasionally still comes around.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pluck's Abecedarium

an acacia from an aqueduct
blossoms from a blunder
a carrot from a candlestick
a didgeridoo from a dimple
an elderberry from an effigy
a flamenco from a flamingo
a gambler from a ganglion
Hitchcock from a horse trough
incense from an incendiary
a jeremiad from Jehoshaphat
a kangaroo from a kestrel
longing from laundry soap
a muscle from a Muscovy duck
a network from a nunnery
an opossum from an opal
a pendulum from a pantomime
a quarrel from a quandary
a rattlesnake from a ratatouille
a saga from Sacagawea
a tangerine from a tumbleweed
an uncle from an umbrella
value from a vulture
a waterfall from wicker
Xanadu from a xenophobe
a yawn from a yellowjacket
zest from a zimbalist

Thursday, April 7, 2011


for moths a gentle pinch of the wings
before release into open air

for bats an inverted bowl, cardboard slid beneath
& a careful opening to night sky

for spiders hours or days of spin & harvest
before a sweep out the door

for gnats on glass a vacuum cleaner bag
where they can feast on concentrated gleanings

for weevils in the grain bin courier delivery
to the compost pile

for ants a drop of clear poison
to carry back to the nest

for coqui frogs the cat's attention

for the cat a door ajar
so she can leave the way she came

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Without Me

every night un
tucutucu (gopher-
like rodent) digs &
taps from a gallery
underground, zips
out for green bites

the head swivels
on una lechucita
(burrowing owl)
statue-like on
a vineyard pole
patrolling the day
for ratones (mice)
Athene cunicularia

the common tero
(lapwing) shrieks
tero-tero all day
on land & on high
all night, bedded
in a low branch of
the willow tree
Vanellus chilensis

las huellas (foot
prints) trace the
route of un zorro
(gray fox),
clocking night
across the dunes
Pseudalopex griseus

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Chaetophractus vellerosa

The Armadillo Story

The armadillos refused to board.
Not only were two places four too few
but Chaeto-4 was nowhere to be found
the morning Noah raised the alarm.
Left behind & two days later
when Chaeto-4 was discovered
at the bottom of a dry acequia,
the family of armadillos climbed:
Phractus, the patriarch, at the head
followed by Chaetos -1 through -4
with Mama Vellerosa swinging
the far tail. Forty days & forty nights,
scarcely ahead of the rising waters,
the armadillos ascended Aconcagua,
each & every one of the 6,962 meters
to the summit, & on the 41st day
they rested. Below them, Noah’s boat
swirled in the currents. Above them
swarmed every species of flying
insects, all refused by Father Noah
in his desire to be rid of stingers &
biters. Thus, the armadillos fed
& fed & fed until the rain stopped,
the waters receded, the land dried,
the armadillos descended, & life
went on as before – dry, hot, godless.

found in Cafayate, Salta, Argentina

A Day in the Life of an Armadillo

for single-malt
a strange attractor

for a full mouthful
an albatross

for the lot underwater
a banana hand

for an abdominal plank
a cerebral cortex

for fluency in Chinese
a balance of payments

for the load of laundry
a tanker truck

for mango malasadas
a cure for miconia

for derring-do
a fish in the coffin

for the inkwell
an alternate life in Philadelphia

for a John Deere
the gold crowns

for the groceries
a Mexican divorce

photos by C. Vollum