My Father Was a Beekeeper

I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.

In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.

He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.

In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.

Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen

to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.

Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando

through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–

honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies

heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.

 

(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)

*Nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology

Young Skeletons

the baristas grind bones into coffee
in these cafes I call skeleton closets

this golden-brown-haired babe stands by my table
her laced leggings draw desire with a fine ballpoint pen

her head whips to me from some psychic seventh sense
she is my ex-girlfriend’s brother’s future ex

her eyes descend as B-movie UFOs
attraction vacuums neatly into a plastic bag

she sits with me like a pocketed thunderstorm
galvanized on The Great Wall of Chain-Link

you must believe me she says
there are no hard feelings

a poacher must say the same
beside a rhino’s castrated face

she asks if I come here often
I say I come hard everyday

just the flickering moon will summon the wolf
and we emulate its growls in fluorescent light

time is our species’ one enduring invention
a new carcass will not survive the night

so hold on to your corpse for as long as you can
until we mourn with our friends the forgetting

(originally published in The Broken Plate, Spring 2016)