Cheryl Snell is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Flower Half
Blown (Finishing Line Press, 2002) and Epithalamion (Little Poem
Press, 2004). She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Swollen with the idea of hollow
wood, air clicks like phobia,
the sound referred like pain.
I pick my way through a spackle
of cicadas thrumming a dirge
that submerges the din of the world.
I duck as if the noise is armed.
Zigzag insects knock a queen bee
into blue glass. All buzzing bass-line,
she slides down the pane like a cartoon.
A ribbon of black and yellow floats
past her like smoke, surviving by bluff,
unable to calculate risk, programmed
not to care.
Solving for X
A stranger pulls up behind the woman,
pantomimes a proposition. Her mirror
warns: Objects are closer than they appear.
Light scatters his etcetera hope and bends it.
He chokes on her exhaust.
She drives to the hospital through parabolas
of rain fanning out like a search party
across the windshield, swarm intelligence
without the brains to be alive.
The photos from their trip seemed so real.
They stood close, holding out that big fish,
future fictional, a happy ending guaranteed.
She considers his square brain inside a hooded CT.
X rays and receptors circle flesh and blood. Fat
hides the truth in a pixel and unknowns
thwart rescue, so don't move. Now breathe.
How the Chipmunk Got His Stripes
A squirrel stares down green-veined
petals blocking the passageway home.
Thought stutters as it tries to think.
Scrambling atop wood stacked to the sky,
it shrinks from the god's wraparound reach,
sizzling in his three-pronged grip.
The reinvented chipmunk tumbles back to earth,
striped by a divine tattoo; chitters all over
the woodland, a witnessing evangelist.
When an unseen hand vouchsafes the days' unravel
of platinum light, we never sense the night
approaching. We never hear it stumble and fall
Window blinds drawn up like knees
expose the kitchen table. It vibrates
under one chained bulb.
A neighbor calls the kids in, glances up.
Her wave stops at the wrist. She sees
the man drag his sleeve across a slick
of spilled dinner. His back ripples
as his wife flings splayed fingers
up against her mottling cheek.
The wife stops counting time
they might have spent together.
Loneliness springs up around her.
She backstrokes a sprawl
across waxed linoleum. Her drop is sheer
and the man has already slammed shut his eyes.
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