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. Diphtheria Festival, my tenth poetry collection, will be available in March from Main Street Rag press.
She’s almost 90, her forehead
like an uncloudy day. She must’ve
been a beautiful baby. Now
she farts during yoga, plow pose,
cow-face pose, even corpse pose,
you can hear her backfiring like
an old Vespa among the scented
candles. Nobody laughs. Certainly
not me. No jokes about gasasana,
the five inner winds, the vibrations
of the blissful sheath. I’m practicing
ujjayi breath, pretending I’m fogging
a mirror, imagining my blurred reflection,
which is almost nothing & preparing
to bow & say the divine in me
bows to the divine in you.
My mat smells
like cat chow.
As that old song
“Somebody’s Watching You”
doesn’t say, nobody’s
Nobody’s watching me
except both cats
napping on their chair
as I return to my breath,
preparing for corpse pose.
My teacher likes
“hospice” as a metaphor
for life. Why maim
each other? We’re all
King Onela's Dog
The Beowulf poet sang
about “A balm in bed
to the battle-scarred Swede.”
Some scholar translated
“balm in bed” as “sleeping
this companion as King Onela’s
favorite dog, not his queen,
but you know scholars, anything
to get published. A dog’s nose
is 100 times more sensitive
than a man’s. The Great Hall,
unwashed bodies, animal skins,
chamber pots under the table,
guests, gorged, vomiting
onto the floor, ready for the
next course. To be a dog then
must have been very heaven!
Around 400 A.D. these dogs
got together & swore fealty to man,
to be his disco ball & best friend
forever. What did the dogs
get in return? All you can
eat, some glorious stinks & best
of all, the infinite loneliness
of the two-legged tribes.
Martians, who believe everything
on earth is a machine, would wonder
about our new cat. Why do earthlings
keep a defective Geiger counter
around the house? Fundamentalists
believe something else--
the natural world is a work of art
marred by our sinful fingerprints.
Look at this sunset like a bad watercolor,
the sky littered with glass. Anyway,
Lord, whoever or whatever you are,
why don’t you take off your starry crown
& drop by some morning for coffee?
I’d really like to chat.
-all poems previously published in Get Serious: New and Selected Poems (Chax Press)
©2016 Jefferson Carter