Monday 19 June 2023

Four Poems by Dennis Camire


After Her Ex Takes His Own Life, She Adopts His Cat


As penance, at first, for the self-flagellants

of catnip-happy scratches pacifying blame

over breaking up the night prior to his suicide—


though, as the cat “purr-furs” her ex’s left side

of bed (after rubbing his back against that same

cracked, bathroom trim following a light snack),


she’s rendered cat-atonic in imagining

the ex-lover, perhaps, in-habiting this black

feline. Now, holding the tom to her chest


in weeping apologies for her awful timing so close

to his mom’s passing, the cat becomes a cat-alyst

for release from her self-imposed purgatory


as nothing but perfect purring is returned to her

avowed unworthiness….And when her love life reveals

the same nine lives and that prostrate monastic cat


rubs her new beau’s boots the first time they meet,

there’s nothing mad about this lapsed cat-tholic

waking at dawn to overflow dish with wet food


before another day of this catalytic converter of cat

silencing her wounded heart’s unmuffled rumblings

so she doesn’t become that crazy, old cat lady


but, rather, forever owns one black magic cat

who miraculously knows when to leap onto her lap

to catheter away the heartache’s growing acids


with the swale of tail or head-rub to face before

his return to the window’s feeder of birds morphs the tabby

into this lovely black Cadillac hearsing away so much hurt


Or entombing it inside a cat soul’s sacred catacomb.



For the Bread Baker and His Conjoined Twins


And so each inchoate loaf is now a foetus

And the rare, errantly, over-heated yeast

That tarnished sperm of his which led

To three shared legs and two arms--


So, kneading, he laments the ingredients

Of that misspent youth’s meth and booze

As his sadness rises a second time when

Peering inside the stone oven to spy two


Ovaries of loaves conjoining at doughy torsos

And fated to be passed over even though

Their price will be “two for one” after noon.

But it’s these “remainder loaves” he takes home


And slices for the boys’ favourite French toast.

And when they weep over the cruel nicknames

that stick inside them like raisons in wheat,

he tenderly rubs their heads and hopes his love


is like the brush of buttered egg-wash run over

the rye’s crust to keep it from splitting open….

And knowing, now, how each muscled kneading

Releases trepidation in the separation operation


possibly taking both lives, I begin each day

with one of his loaf’s toast to taste the molasses

of his sadness when they refuse to rise

for school and all he can do is cover them


in hugs for another fifteen or so minutes

And think of the sourdough‘s slow, third rising.

Still who’d have thought this would lead me

To feed, daily, on their Go Fund Me campaign


For the home nurse—or to pray they

find love like the conjoined Chang brothers

Who spent three days each week in the

other’s marriage bed—or to both curse and bless


whatever baker of human souls did knead me

in such a way that, contemplating separating

myself from their story’s longing and pain,

I feel my heart’s marbled rye, too, might die…



For The Black Bear Biologist Tagging Hibernating Bears


The drugging then

                     Tunnelling into den is

Mostly routine until her

                      Found birthmother

Refuses to meet

                  With her given-up girl--


So, weighing cubs

                   And drawing blood,

Wells-up all the grief still

                          Hibernating inside

The den of her repression

               As their cries and clawing


Of down gloves trigger

                         Her unconscious trauma

In being pulled from

                                 A like lush breast

On February 7 of 83….

                              Still measuring all


Those little claws and teeth

                                While the bear-rug

Of drugged sow battles

                              To keep eyes fixated

On her squealing twins,

                       Opens the hand of hope


For her own Mom, maybe,

                       To struggle for sobriety

The next time she’s lugged

                       From her like below-

Street-watering hole.

                    For now though all

The biologist can do

                     To keep her heart’s eagle

Aloft in the mountain

                         Breeze of these feelings

Is volunteer to descend,

                                A second time


Into the musky den

                       To return these two

Shivering cubs to

                    The mother who was

Slowly bulldozed

                       Back into the hole;


And, over time, she’ll

                       Find succour in mastering

The exact seconds left

                        In mother-bear paralysis

So she can linger

                  Against the warm breast


And feel some wholeness

                         Restored when her heart-

Beat entrains with the

                          Sow’s slow, strong sonar.

 Imagine her, now, slowly

                        Healing in touching teat


And drooling teeth without

                 The three-hundred-pound sow

Roaring; and consider

                        Her crazy rebirthing ritual

In embracing the radio-

                        Collared neck and giving


The snout a good-bye

                      Peck before breaching

From each winter den

                     And feeling like a spring cub

Emerging for the first time

                           To wonder at the wild-


Flower laced breeze and 

                   Unhindered sun, which suddenly

And completely soaking

                          Her black coat, feels like

The mother’s mid-winter tongue

         Warmly passing over her blind newborn.



Upon Learning her Husband only has a few Months to Live


She recalls gold finch and robin

                            Flying off with his coiled, grey locks

After she cuts his hair outdoors


                                   So, that last spring, she shears

His hair closer to the tree line

                          Then tosses the manes, like bread


Crumbs, to swooning moms-to-be.

                              Soon she envisions the looming

ravens of grief quietly nesting


                                 in some solace as, widowed

 her first Christmas, she’ll task

                                       her grandson to scale


a naked deciduous tree to retrieve

                                             a soft vessel of a nest

Which, set on bed stand, keeps


                                         Memories of him more alive

Than any ash-filled urn atop mantle.

                                       And the more she imagines those


Salt and pepper tresses espied

                                 (Between hay and twigs bedside),

The more follicles of solace grow


                                        And curl with visions of grief

kept at bay. Now, they read

                                        about nests before bed


And, together, nurse on succour

                         In learning how generations of birds

Recycle the moss, floss, and deer


Hair. See, then, how it ends with him

                           More easily letting go of his soul-

Mate as they marvel at his hair’s


Heat-holding properties lowering

                   goldfinch mortality so offspring

always bloom at her feeder.


Who’d have thought they could

                                  nest so warmly with death

When considering the future robins’


Fallen wing feathers delivering

                              A recycled piece of him

To brush against her lonesome cheek?


                             Who’d have guessed

all these soft, gathered thoughts

                    woven in their last words together


would soothe those death-restless heads

                            even more than the pillows’

dependable, down, breast feathers?

Dennis Camire is a writing instructor at Central Maine Community College. His poems have appeared in Poetry East, Spoon River Review, The Mid-American Review and other journals and anthologies. An Intro Journal Award Winner and Pushcart Prize nominee, his most recent book is Combed by Crows, Deerbrook Editions. Of the collection. X. J. Kennedy says: "Dennis Camire is an up and comer… The poems engage us with their promising titles, and deliver with skill and energy." Of Franco-American origin, he lives in an A-frame in West Paris, Maine.









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