My fingertips marveled at the silvery shimmer,
already less silver, less shimmery than when it lived.
I never again should cause flesh this beautiful
to be less beautiful, I thought.
—swordfish—my brother offered up his neighbor
for conversation. He'd shotgunned every TV
in his house, even the puny black-and-white
on the kitchen counter. Buckshot shattered black
granite and splintered yards of golden oak.
In the unexpected hush as we considered
slaughtered appliances, my brother's drinking buddy
told my girlfriend she was a pretty lady,
a real pretty lady. She looked like a dream.
One day she'd make a real man really happy.
I barked three hard flat laughs. The lit friend winced
as each blast turned his cheeks a richer red.
My girlfriend closed her eyes and opened them,
her azure eyelids shimmering with jade.
The Imagined Copperhead
The imagined copperhead
hid on the path ahead,
unseen on bronze leaves, unheard,
and a mortal likelihood
at every step. This was childhood,
mine, the woods' jihad
against a boy who'd
intruded among monkshood,
wasp, tick, and nettles haired
with needles. Scrub brush abhorred
him with a horde
of welts, bites, and stings, but he'd
never seen a copperhead,
though he'd looked hard,
taking, as he'd been ordered, heed.
The snake wasn't a falsehood,
though, to him. Dread
was his nature, and he hared
through sunlight and shade, head
swiveling for the copperhead
he'd begun to covet, the ballyhooed
killer a camouflaged godhead
on which his ingrained faith cohered,
and finally his priesthood.
A Clown at Midnight