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.
The old women who rise early
must think me the hound
whose purest intention is to keep
his habitual round
as I plod the unlit county road
in the rain, nose to the ground,
led by a scent. No meandering
mutt am I, dog of hijink,
junkyard, or bog. Wet hair
dripping my lips perpetual drink
off the fountain of my nose
I suppose they think I have a link
lost in the chain of ideas, or missing
boxcar on the train of thought.
They don’t understand that out
in the rain on the same old route
I move at a pace which liberates
limbs of faith from trunks of doubt.
Rounding the bend and smelling the bread
Mrs. Woods has baked I spy
the waiting gait, and when I trod
straight the road gone awry
from spilling ditch near Emory’s pond
I chase the ducks but they don’t fly.
No longer a rushing cur am I.
Intemperate geese nip at the back
of my calves, and quacking ducks come
pleading for the bread that I lack.
Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has work in The Nervous Breakdown, Amarillo Bay, Across the Margins, and Atticus Review. He was the summer issue poet of Clerestory in 2015.
Hurt is the manner in which the homeless
pronounce heart, and in doing so
identify the state of it, their cold
puckered mouths unable to slow
the gutteral vowel. And we, more proud
of our rags than the rich their silk,
we had wanted to feed the famished, turn
tanks and subs into cups of milk.
But words cannot multiply fish and loaf,
so you chose the worming up
the corporate tree and I chose grubbing
out cash for the most appealing group.
Today I handed out cups of coffee
to those who utter hurt for heart
and mean the same, and listened to their cold
hard prose, not a warm word in it.
We have not written for these many years
and I am one made worse for it.
Jeff Burt works in manufacturing. He has work in Dandelion Farm Review, Nature Writing, and forthcoming in Windfall and Thrice Fiction.