On a bender here, tumbling down
a prairie dog hole into a maze, catch
a whiff, pungent as elephant spoor. Dung
beetles roll frayed neurons into a ball:

Yes, it’s all shit.  Random shit.  The world keeps
turning.  Deep time.  No time.  My shad-fly theory
of human existence: here and gone within 24 hours –
our wings splayed over verandah light bulb

or hung to dry on the cottage’s blue aluminum siding
we mistook for sky.  Lace-like, we slip between
grass blades, baptism by garden hose.
Reincarnation for the western mind.

Thing is, I stumbled across Anne Carson’s
Antigonick in the midst of mourning the loss
of my older brother, baby sister, father, beloved dog –
practically all at once, before finding myself

ill, my sister-in-law more so.  Then husband.
Not to bring Greek affairs down on your head
but their stories echo throughout my years –
older brother by my side.  His near drowning

on the Mediterranean made Odysseus’ journey
vibrant, Greek gods, male and female, animal
and bird, more riveting than the desert god
we’d grown to know.

Ok, confess:  born into a household where
theology is milk and manna, dad’s a lawyer
becomes a clergyman. Anybody else’s rituals
of worship are more intriguing.

Tonight, sitting in grief’s debris, will someone
please knock me out? Will I live all this loss again
with age? Descent on a spiral staircase, steps
erode beneath me.  Suck-hole of tears.

Antigone closed the door behind her.
My dear brother, your death only the beginning.


Semi-finalist in the Naugatuck River Review – Issue 19 – 2018.
Judge:  Kaveh Akbar