Lycanthrope

I’d say the werewolf is a lucky guy.
He gets to read the moon and memorize it,
howl out the lunar text in fluent lupine,
and when the lyrics pall and the moon grows old,
he reverses himself—but reserves his second self,
leaving his fur in a spot at the edge of the wood.
His latent talent’s a two-sided coin—
except that, heads or tails, both sides are downsides:
the werewolf enterprise is either/or,
where neither option wins the day (or night).

Closer

Like a muffled metronome
behind me, there are footsteps walking—
much too close. I cross the street,
because it must be me they’re stalking.
But the cadence of the feet
in iambs on the dim concrete
comes closer, closes in, repeating
in my ribs: my own heart knocking
and outrunning me—a clock,
its hands quicker than feet. It’s beating
time, a tuneless shadow locked
inside me, where I hear its omen
sure-footed and close to home.

Everything is Light: Frozen Charlotte by Susan de Sola

Frozen Charlotte: Poems
by Susan de Sola
(Able Muse, 2019, 126 pp., $19.95)

The magnificent seascape/ice-scape on the cover of Frozen Charlotte, Susan de Sola’s new poetry collection, is all blue. But, like the book’s contents, it coruscates with light. Dip into the book, browse through it, or read it nonstop: you emerge with an after-image that’s all color. If I had to capture these poems in one word? Color.

Down-to-Earth

In the field the coyote yip-yips imminent danger;
……….the dog in the kitchen rumbles a basso growl;
the field sends back a shrill elastic baying;
……….the kitchen gives a soprano howl.

These two aren’t discussing climate change,
……….war, flu, layoffs; in this dialogue
a well-informed coyote’s not relaying
……….to a pessimistic dog

grounds for worry—national cases of mange,
……….the mountain lion population swelling,
a cougar-sighting fifteen miles away—
……….only a future close enough to smell.

Pressure

Put a little pressure and heat on rock,
give it time, and shale turns into slate.
It’s the same with calcium carbonate
slowly reinventing itself as chalk.

Limestone’s in no hurry; it started to harden
during the Lower Jurassic into marble.
Graphite spends millennia on diamond:

The luxury of eons.
………………………………At any rate,
slow or slower, they move in mineral time
with plenty of leisure for maturing late.
Nice for them. I have a different clock,
skin-shallow. Animals can’t afford to wait.

C. elegans

Caenorhabditis elegans : genome sequenced

Ground-breaking news about the nematode
C. elegans—an even simpler beast
than they had thought, with a genetic code
nineteen percent identical to yeast.

And now I hear the sequencing machines
associate me with him—with vermin—by
festooning us in matching strands of genes:
A common heritage I can’t deny,

but a worm—he’s less than dirt, the über-low
doormat to the world, bred to submit
and never turn (except earth-clods), and so
unprepossessing. Except I’ve also read

how it’s supposedly the meek who hit
the jackpot—the big legacy—and earn
what great H. sapiens inherited:
the earth that elegans was first to turn.