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CL Bledsoe

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

sing along.

Love Poem

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.


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