“In the Quiet of Drought the Monarchs Perish” by Jeff Burt

The grass keeps on dying
but never finishes, and what to bury
dead ground in never comes up.
A shovel turns, as if it’s restless.

The soil warms and earthworms
defect for a more conservative soil,
the communizing surface effect lost
when one has no soothing slide.

Beetles that burrow for the loss
of their virginity keep pushing dirt
out of the holes and when sex strikes
it is more of a match on a sandpaper strip

than a moist bed of coupling.
What does it matter—the male dies,
the female swells and spawns,
exits weary to become prey for jays.

All dries, dies, withers.
All the warbling birds
and accompanying zithers
of crickets and bees have throats

and wings too thin to sing.
My mouth tastes the dust
the scraping rake brings up.
I no longer water.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife and marauding bands of wild turkeys that scare trucks and cobble and gobble everything at their feet. He won the Cold Mountain Review Poetry Prize in 2017.

 

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