What feathers hold aloft the birds
That sing among the trees at night,
And yet allow the branches to fall
Downward to eternity?

The brittle bones of nature’s army,
Withering from force of blight,
Though strong enough to carry forth
Those visitors who shake the leaves,

And gather choirs long forgotten,
Set upon a diff’rent path
That leads to rivers flowing far beyond
The reach of conscious fear

To inlets and to fields aflame with
Mother Nature’s righteous wrath,
To skies whose clouds have burned away
And left the journey forward clear.


A Forest

Vines grow fierce along the edge of every whim
Each notion pulls with it twelve other seedlings
That ripen and bulge and invite
The neighbors into your kitchen

You may believe that islands stand individual
Warriors of solitary purpose projected toward the sun
But each base gloms onto the earth
Thirsty, without the benefit
Of advocacy

We live in sagging huts
Blankets between you and us and
Songs that slip across the great expanse
Harsh whispers to the untrained ear

Myths stand under the stars, not thee
Lips pursed in quiet judgment as gods titter
Come home to roost among queer birds
On branches beaten from the finest

Maps will not illuminate you
As unfathomable as the ebb of the cosmos
Ever collapsing onto one point of light, screaming
The bleat of midnight, the call of darkness unbidden

Forrest’s Last Call

Forrest’s motorcycle roared to attention with the same force it did every morning, 5am, on the nose. He kept his machine in top shape, spent every evening tweaking it, oiling it, finding any little thing that was out of place and making it right. The motorcycle was his pride, sure and powerful—the one thing in his life that remained dependable.

He patted the deep red casing and winced; his neck was stiff, and pain shot up his legs, legs he’d tried so often and for so long to build into the mighty trunks he’d envisioned as a younger man. He’d finally given up. He forced the corners of his lips—wince to smile.

“The Lord ain’t gave me the raw material to be a strong-legged man,” he’d say. And he moved faster on that bike of his than he ever could on thicker legs, that’s for damn sure.

He worked himself onto the seat, slowly. He had trouble lifting his legs as high as he needed to, the joints of his hips rusty, neglected, without a full range of comfortable motion. His back groaned something unholy as he settled his ass into the new upholstery. He pulled a red handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped the chill morning dew from the side-views.

Forrest’s bones lay unsettled, rattled beneath the bike’s strong breath. He’d been pushing himself to adapt to this new sensation—jes’ gettin’ old, get used to it like anything else—but a couple weeks had passed, and it felt just as jarring as it had the first day.

Forrest had called up Doc Snyder, refused to give his name, but asked about the next available appointment.

“Dr. Snyder won’t be back in the office until next Tuesday. I can get you in to see Dr. Reginald tomorrow morning, if you’d like.”

“Shitfire and hellstones,” Forrest muttered. “No, that ain’t necessary. I’ll wait for Snyder next week I guess…”

“Is this Mr. Forrest?” the receptionist asked. “Mr. Forrest, do—“

Forrest hung up. Reginald was an officious little shit with no bedside manner. Forrest refused to see him. And every goddamned time he called in for Snyder, which wasn’t that often, mind—I’m gettin’ damn old but I ain’t infirm—, the man was on vacation. “I got ten fuckin’ years on Snyder, maybe more, and I don’t take vacation but once in three years, if that.”

Forrest’s weakening legs screamed again, and he tried to massage good intentions back into the flesh with his gnarled, rocky hands. He settled on tying his handkerchief around his thigh—no easy task through waves of arthritis—and hoping the pressure would still the pain by the time he reached the mill.

He sped down the road full tilt, speed limit a distant memory. Forrest had no illusions about the danger; he courted it openly. He held tight to the bars and leaned forward, the pain in his leg a deep throb pushed further down by blazing speed. The years peeled back. In the glint of the side-view, Forrest caught a glimpse of his darkening hair. His wiry eyebrows found self-control.

Faster, he thought, I can move faster, I can move… His legs grew, muscles swelled, his jeans burst; heavier now, his legs couldn’t help but apply speed… he almost floated over the curves that softened the ragged landscape. Forrest’s blood slid through his body, crab’s blood over a pot of organs, and his heart no longer beat, it sprouted wings and fluttered through his chest, hummingbird speed.

A ray of sun peeked through the cluster of trees that loomed over him, twisted like his old bones, no, not his, the bones of an older Forrest, one who ached for heights that he could no longer attain. This Forrest, motorcycle sprouting from his crotch, knew no such limitations. The crack in the trees widened. The sky was bright. Branched shadows raked Forrest’s face, one last grasp before they disappeared into the coming light of day. In the distance, but near enough to rattle his bones one final time, Forrest heard the sound of steel through the trees and watched as broken embers floated ever upward.