I’m Something Like a Flower
The rich have the best
trees. When their children
get bored, they’ll go to
Five years have passed
like a sigh.
Leaves have been
rotting all winter, waiting
for the worms, just like
the rest of us.
Where I live used to be
swamp. Bugs buzzing around
heads. The bugs are dying, now.
I can’t help but be concerned
at the convenience.
Verse Chorus Verse
My hands are shaking but that
probably won’t kill me today.
The difference between ways
of saying a name reveal why
you had it wrong all along.
Listen, everyone wore torn
jeans in the 90s, but that
doesn’t mean we learned
anything about air circulation.
We were secret satellites, meant
to repel alien invasions,
but the aliens were already here—
who do you think invented ties?
Or maybe it was the devil
all along, just looking for a fourth
for bridge. I’m trying to look
into your eyes without seeing
you, but one can’t help but
hear the high-pitched whistle
and wonder where the lavender
smell is coming from. There is
nothing sexy about nothing—
scratch that. Somebody is getting
off on anything you can imagine.
You can’t trust what the lips
do to our words, but that
doesn’t mean I care to listen.
That crappy band you loved
so much thirty years ago
had it right all along: say
anything to get them to
It’s better, today, the clouds
in their formal wear so there’s
a reason for the headache I’ve worn
all week. Self-improvement is often
throwing good money after bad,
which I avoid by being too broke
to afford therapy. But I go.
I try the pills. I bring the extra shirt
to change into after sweating
through the first at my desk.
They’ll blame me for it, whatever
I do. “Write a poem about the worst
thing ever done to you, take a walk,
and have a snack.” Honey, check
my Amazon author page and my belt size.
If change weren’t a possibility
in the movies, I could, at least, give
up, a collection of mistakes made
without guidance or forethought,
intentions left damp in the washer
overnight, and maybe get a goldfish.
They grow to however large their
environment allows. They say
you’ve got to forgive yourself,
but that mostly means learning to like
the smells of cleaning fluids, saving
hurts for the opportune time, like a banker
counting up missed payments
and foreclosing on a relationship.
When I left work last night, a fog
drowned the street. I ran in, hoping it
would take me to Valhalla. I found
a 711. They had candy bars on sale.
I stood outside the door, wishing
you knew how to talk about your
feelings. I just want to hold you
This Isn’t the Kind of Poem
that waxes reminiscent about
things that never existed, like
a childhood that doesn’t still
wake it some nights, shuddering,
or nature that isn’t also
murder. This is a poem that
wants to sit on the couch
for six hours, watching Star
Gate: SG1 reruns and then
do it again, tomorrow. It’s not
going to realize anything
except that its butt hurts from
being sat on so long. Or, it
will realize many, many things
and none of them will help. This
poem is lonely, it’s true, but
it finds most people not worth
the trouble unless they’re
willing to sit quietly. This poem
is probably clinically depressed,
but it can’t afford meds or therapy.
It has insurance; that’s not how
insurance works. This poem
should probably get a pet. This
poem knows all your tricks, like
cutting to an outdoors scene
to fake a resolution, revealing
something to shock the reader
into not noticing how flimsy
these connections are, or maybe
drifting off as though lack
of resolution were a resolution.
This poem has seen everything
there is to see and wants nothing
but a complete change of every
aspect of its being, or, barring
that, a snack.
The Black Plague
Darkness others the dirty streets,
and I’m thinking about going home
to die. All the residents of one village
danced themselves to death. In another,
they shook until their wills gave out.
When the fleas come, some will die
within a day—no symptoms, they just
don’t wake up. Others linger
with buboes beneath their clothes.
The doctors were the second to die,
followed by the priests. They thought
it was the air, sin. Some would whip
themselves through the streets and die
from infection. The taverns would fill
with the dying or those who would soon
be, which only spread the plague.
There’s a story that in one village,
everyone died but the gravedigger.
The fleas had all fled the cooling
corpses before they got to him.
Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Driving Around, Looking in Other People's Windows, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.