All morning I’ve been passing my time
eating cookies and wondering why
the poems I once believed would
always flow upward through me
like water from a vase into the daffodils
bought last week at the grocery store,
those flowers sprinting back to yellow
like I thought the words would come.
Except my metaphor is thirsty, drinking
bourbon instead of water, consuming
memory in all its yellow flowers, burning
the forest down to the roots of its trees,
leaving the scattered ash leaves
to dance amid the soot. I’ve never
written down the word “soot,” and
it seems an edgy thing, connoting flues
and black-bellied stoves—an Appalachian
childhood I lived once, but then I sinned
and the stoves were taken away, and even
the moon tilted its face away from me,
that once sweet southern moon sailing
among the stars. The water flows
steadily down toward the roots of things.
There are springs within the body
filled with poisoned frogs that have
five legs and speak Portuguese.
Some nights when I walk under tropical stars
I can hear the frogs within singing
foreign tunes and the words spill
out of me like flowering bougainvillea,
also an exotic in this land of pine
barren and cypress slough.