Thud against the ground too loud to be an imagined sound.
A pinky finger sized almost too almost neon green,
larvae type, maggot like, caterpillar looking thing.
Fallen from a tulip poplar tree taller than fifty feet about a foot from me.
Laid there stunned. And after a moment started wriggling.
Kind of had me giggling.
Impressed at how hard it had met the moist yet dense clay,
and still remained living. An ugly little worm of a being.
Obviously preparing to undergo some form of transfiguration.
Filling up to go into cocoon season soon and very soon.
Emerge some unrecognizable. Vastly unlike whatever it was before.
I hope for the sake of the clumsy tumbling ugly little thing,
it crawls back out carrying wings.
These longer days during summer somehow feel shorter,
yet weigh the same. Heavy bags beneath eyes.
Those lines formed on the sides of smiles or from frowning,
now drawn permanently arching parenthesis
like a frame around a painted mouth. Red,
or soft pink and sleek wormlike rippled skin of lips. Chapped,
licked seductively to find the salt of beaded sweat. Clamped,
beneath teeth in the grinding tense frictional symptom of concentration.
The weight of all these days to date, here, today,
born in the indented pool of an unseen lower back,
bone locked like knuckles wrapped in cartilage against knotted bone.
The bolt built of twisting nuts touches the big eared clown face
of that giant rattling calcium hip structure
to record the strenuous passing of time
more honestly than any calendar.
This summer has baptized the countryside clean.
And made mosquitoes mean. Chasing more than mere satisfaction.
Too many of them plunging their slurping syringes after too little blood.
I wonder how John spoke of baptism when there was a flood.
Banks swallowed up and digested, submerging questionable folks
below the chomping void of bare tooth gums moving orange water.
Putting heads under surfaces under hands which come up emptied.
Cleansed. Refreshed. Renewed. Reclaimed by fast-flowing currents.
And drown, down, white doves of white imagination descend
upon a little one laid down in the road.
Surrounded by other powder gray doves,
who launch at my loud passing, while one remains,
injured in some way, unable to move herself,
while cars roar past in waves,
to truly, irreparably, explosively crash.
Shattered glass and bent frames of bolted metal.
How would John use water to wash away engine oil?
This summer, baptism has not been a gentle trickling bath,
but an angry surge. This went way beyond cleansing.
Last summer was a purge.
Criticism should always be taken, just not bending over.
Not blindly, embarrassingly, just taken and not questioned.
But looked at clear eyes, open mind, direct into the face of the critic.
If a self-serving, reductive, dismissive bit of erosive advice is shared,
defend it. Keep stringing along letters and words to surround the work.
Like armor. Listen, as they bombard the mutterings of your heart
with wrong, mistruth, with misguided wit unfiltered and over practiced.
These swollen-headed academic types will see if they can’t slip in a line or two
which make them seem better, smarter, more equipped with intention
and more confident than you. They have before and always will.
Just don’t bend over for it.
Too many good, productive, creative elements make you the writer,
and them, just another critic.