Here’s My Backpack Full of Leaves
I steal words from magazines and newspapers
like a magpie falsely accused
by the BBC of stealing shiny baubles.
I stole the word “backpack”
and then packed it full
of pilfered “leaves”
instead of troubles.
Nothing that happens in California is real.
I stole “California” so I could feel
something’s real in this state. Loving
sneaks into my limbic monkey plumage
and makes me wonder more.
Like the 4:00 o’clock splash
in the backyard bird bath.
Something there seems real.
And something good that would
cheer up anyone: a baby girl
just born to a distant cousin.
Her button nose and lilliputian fingernails.
And my cat
is why I have a cat.
The freeway is costly and never a fast way
home from work. Meals consume the night,
leave scraps for the dog we don’t have.
Bones to sink, into the droopy recliner I go,
fondling the remote control, commander
of a galaxy of vacuous channels. Rapt,
I search for gray matter—any stand-in
for the moment when sex could happen.
You, there in a distant love seat
have not been bothered by me
Like a prayer crossing a gap
comes a polite
“No thank you.”
An Angel Spoke Unto Me
My mother wore a blazing shawl of explosive ice like an exoskeleton from the Kuiper Belt while she birthed my soul. And an angel from an asteroid spoke to me in a vision: Start a new religion. I was chosen just like that from the frozen tract that led from the one sun. A fiery seed implanted. In my fever mythology I replace Papa Pope. I’m Mama and I play second fiddle to no one, not even a savior. Do not insist I bear all your generations. I expect to be celibate. My flower shuts like a church door.
The Wealth of Death in Mountains
For months, the miners cannot see the sunlight
and many of them die inside the tunnels.
―Pliny the Elder
The placer mining left ::
near oak and manzanita.
Pascal’s barrel ::
cavities drilled into rock.
Ruina montium ::
wrecking of mountains,
entrails of stone.
Tunneling and stoping ::
veins of the
Milk (not mother’s) ::
toxic seep and leak.
Ponds (again) ::
Stream bed ::
why oil floats on water,
why the surface is always flat
whatever the shape of its container.
Cathryn Shea’s poetry has recently appeared in Cheat River Review, Permafrost, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. Cathryn’s second chapbook, It’s Raining Lullabies, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2017. She has poems in 2017 anthologies “Luminous Echos” by Into The Void and “The New English Verse” by Cyberwit. Cathryn serves with the editorial staff for Marin Poetry Center Anthology. See www.cathrynshea.com and @cathy_shea on Twitter.