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March 5, 2018 | Poetry

Two Poems

Jaime Zuckerman

Two Poems photo


whoever they are they warn freak snowstorms
in spring & weak apple harvests & everyone mutters
certain doom in small talk & watches the news cycle
for the deaths of their favorite musicians

each year we get an update on the bees
all dying & they who study these things
say it's cell phones or maybe pesticides

each year a giant construction crane
dangles threatening Manhattan
like man’s own Godzilla foot ready
to remind us of our smallness

whenever we see one of those golden
bee bodies on a mission we remember
how to pray to ask that it gets there

once Brian who dropped out of my high school
was in charge of the crane menacing
Manhattan & they interviewed him as
they extracted it from the tangle of buildings
with an even bigger crane

once I grew a lemon tree in my room
& with a paintbrush I pollinated the flowers
which smelled like a kind of heaven
the little yellow sex particles clung
to the little paintbrush hairs
& now I think of what will happen
if we all must go among the fruit trees
flower to flower with our paintbrushes

each year they tell us we’re down
to a single polar bear & hundreds
of species extinct per day
but it’s mostly bugs & plants
so nobody notices but they do worry
about the polar bears because
they’re such majestic creatures

in the future they say super-storms
will make our patterns uncertain
like the time there was no fall because
the trees got coated in ocean saltwater
& leaves only browned & gave up
breaking down their chlorophyll
they prophesy all sorts of things

whenever a favorite musician dies
& everyone mourns by re-listening to old songs
I think about how we can’t agree
on greatness or guitar skill & how this sad
social thing will go the way of the bees
which aren’t really sick just lost & looking
for home until dropping from exhaustion

maybe in the future we’ll all walk
between the trees with our paintbrushes
& that flower smell like you can only imagine


I fell asleep in the dunes, my head beside a sandpiper’s nest of spun grasses. Nervous over my presence, she stayed awake all night watching me. The next night was the same. And the next. I slept there until I knew she was familiar with each freckle on my face and no longer afraid. At full moon, I set a round dish of ink between us. When I woke, I saw words—yes! it was a language in dots and scratches in the sand. Each morning, I worked to decode her messages during daylight. I made slow and patient progress while she stitched the shoreline, forward and back, with the waves. A pattern appeared. I cracked the code. Her first message said—“I am no longer small.” After that, I found a poem, a theorem, a diagrammed constellation. The mapping of a flight plan in the compass grass. 


image: Raegan Bird