Monday 20 June 2022

Four Poems by Adam Chabot


 

His Favourite Animal

 

My four-year-old son flutters his wrists,

dainty and light, skips from one kitchen

 

floor tile to the next, “they’re petals, Dad!”

he squeals balancing on one socked foot, a

 

butterfly paper cut-out he had clearly cut and

coloured in Crayola-crafted scribblings of oranges

 

yellows, and reds, clutched in a sweaty grip

like the flaccid rope alongside a swinging

 

bridge: monarchs, viceroys, admirals, he tells

me everything he learned at day care

 

including the “proboscis” demonstrated by

tongue flailing and giggles, but everything

 

is transitory; butterflies live for four weeks,

and during a recent cleaning purge,

 

the crumpled cut-out found a black

contractor bag, a choice my son made in spite

 

of my crisis of time’s passing. He moves on,

discovers value in the ever-evolving present

 

like the legacy of old things my mother gives

me at the conclusion of each visit: a tattered copy

 

of The Old Curiosity Shop, worthless. “Look

inside,” she said. “At the inscription, you see?”

 

To Evie—Merry Christmas, 1922” in careful

longhand. I worry about her, want to proclaim

 

the obvious without insult. I tell her

that’s not me. She smiles and explains that

 

it was someone, and for an iron-mouthed

moment, my son floats backwards as if tethered,

 

and folds back into a cocoon to relive

everything again, like a God.



Natural World

 

The neighbour is out mowing again,

a throbbing, rhythmic rumble

 

like the hum of a chest freezer.

Crabgrass has invaded the sandbox,

 

germinated from beneath its surface

perhaps from a dog turd or crushed

 

blueberry dropped from my three-year-old

son’s fingers. Someday, I think,

 

the wasps will return

on instinct like salmon looking

 

to mate, an instinct, a rite of passage.

Maybe—they could complete

 

their nest, perhaps the one inside

the outlet cover, or the one we uncovered

 

in the woodshed. I remember—with

gloved hands I sprayed a foamy chemical

 

into its bulbous cylindrical hole like

an insemination, an explosion

 

of panic, static buzzing, a tardy

alarm for a tornado in the night.

 

Eventually, black bodies oozed out,

tumbling and caked in whiteness

 

like shaving cream: threat neutralized in

the springtime rains, snowmelt,

 

the waterpark of our sloped driveway

home to wriggling worms like

 

a minefield. I tell my son “the floor

is lava” and he freezes then hopscotches

 

from empty space to empty space

as drizzle tickles his blue slicker.

 

It’s a familiar game but each step

crushes life and his ignorance

 

shields him from all of that. All of this

is for him. Who cares about

 

dandelions when real things can

get you? The mowing stops. The job

 

is done. The sun—there’s a tick

crawling on my leg.

 

 

Summoning Spirits

 

Dilapidated worlds, abandoned

houses mimic life as interim holiday

mausolea, tenebrous symbols

of the day in which all us kids

wanted was to be someone or

something else for a couple

of hours. But on this night

among water damage and

derelict crows’ nests, a shredded

corpse of a mouse, colourless, faded

7UP cans tumbling from an overturned

plastic trash barrel, oscillations of

occasional sunlight and persistent

neglect, these homes aren’t haunted,

they’re just sad, ghosts of themselves.

In our paltry séance, we hold hands

in a circle and, if it’s only me, I pray

someone can make amends

for this. 

 

 

Tonight

 

or his neck hunched

over his phone,

looming and weighty

like a sad, inebriated

expectation… I am

begging him

as his friend

to stop the meatless

actions. “It doesn’t

matter,” I say. “Nothing

we can solve tonight,”

but a yelping dog

on a frigid, forgotten

back porch barks

until it can’t

any longer because

at some point,

that screen door

opens again, no

matter what

anyone says.




Adam Chabot is the English Department Chair at Kents Hill School, a private, independent high school located in central Maine. His other poetry has been recently featured in rough diamond poetry, Magpie Lit, and Selcouth Station, among others. He can be found on Twitter @adam_chabot.

 

 

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