I live in Tucson with my wife Connie and volunteer with Sky Island Alliance, a regionally-based environmental organization. I am also poetry editor for Zócalo, a local arts magazine. I'm an opportunist, not a poet with a plan. Whatever catches my fancy, I write about: an engaging image, a political or environmental issue, a bit of zoology, an overheard conversation, and, of course, love, love, love. In grad school, I fell in love with Jonathan Swift. Thirty years later, I still have to rein in my satirical impulses to protect whatever is tender in my poems.
Lightning, then, of course, thunder.
We can get used to anything.
The window, lit up, shakes
& we’re comforted, pulling
the blankets to our chins. The dog,
half-blind, diabetic, fat as a woodchuck,
burrows between us, panting,
trembling like she’s never heard
thunder before. Maybe she hasn’t,
she lives so much in the moment.
Here’s her day: I was in. Now I’m out.
I was out. Now I’m in. You going
to eat that? You going to eat that?
I’ll eat that! Here’s her night so far:
What’s that? Thunder. What’s that?
Thunder. What’s that? Thunder.
Our third president owned
a pet mockingbird named Dick.
Let’s not mention what else
he owned. Dick dug Monticello,
that big white layer cake.
He’d click & chatter. He’d mimic
the field slaves’ hosannahs
until he’d almost faint, wobbling
on his perch like a double
handful of dirty cotton.
To a narcissist, all
the world’s a mirror.
The day I misread
the no trespassing sign
in the laundromat window
as no trepanning, I retired
from narcissism. I stopped
worrying about my headaches.
I’m not so lonely now
& even a goat isn’t just
a goat. I told my neighbor
my lawn’s a pasture & today
I saw a herd, fainting goats
he calls them, grazing there.
-all poems first published in Get Serious: New and Selected Poems (Chax Press: 2013)
©2015 Jefferson Carter