Three Poems by J. N. Fishhawk


Lizard’s people have a lineage that was
rumored to have been in charge once,
or so the stones say.

Possum is a thing so old you can hear
the planet vent and creak in her hiss,
but in Beetle’s clean-line carapace
the tale of the first air-breathers is
held like the sea’s ghost in a shell.

Scorpion was there. She knows.

The sun’s gone shine hangs the moon
in void like a skull stuck in tar;
it throws light at us
the way giants used to throw boulders
at travelers, in the place of possibilities
before the struck stone solidity
of streaming time.

Garbage Out

Now the bullshit stops
now the hunger-heart starts–
ashcan insincerity, old oranges
moldering blind in bins, boarded up
buildings blunted to the sun, the
creek rises out of alchemical
froth, up into the curbside haze. Phials
of liquid incense smashed on the sill
still can’t stop the stink.

Now the bullshit stops
now the art-itude barks
out over airwaves and down all-white walls
hung with product for fathers and mothers,
the mavens and pavers of Thee Market,
invisible hand in yer pants, invisible
misery dance, pinhead angel you pinhead angel you–
for the torturer’s salary you’ll
hang up your whips, set
that spatula down, leave the burning
grease to ripen and gel in the fire-butt pan.

Fear is the mandrake drunk
on rot, the fella yellin’ from holler to
hill, dreaming shotguns, machetes, beartraps
in the corn. Blood on the silk and rust at the roots,
the erotic ears once tipped skyward from stalk,
straining to catch the manflowers’ dust,
now snatched off, stem-broke, their
pebbled fruit grounded on and under
the pumpkin leaves, fodder
for deer and raccoon.

I am over. City and mountain
met once and made me, bald outland,
suburb of knobs and secrets, cul de
sac face and fill-dirt parts, this is
the end. All magic plans break. The
skinny mushroom genitalia, mold-bloom
fur and stump teeth of me, my parents’
Golem, Golgothic rocket-monkey
to the future, some hellbender’s
New Model Man—


The flowers
fall to pieces
on the kitchen counter
where windowglass and water take light’s play
with their shapes’ shade and twist it in
the crystal vase
to a slow-tracked blaze
of whitehot feathers, rainbow waves and
blue-gray cubist figures.

Asiatic lilies
they are
rootless beauties
no doubt hot-housed in Colombia,
cut carried and hauled by all manner of hands
before making their brief scene
in the supermarket down the street,
where they snared your gaze
with their petalled splays
and caught
some of your cash for the corporation

whose careful
A/C aisles—
laid out with purpose
as exact as the lines of French colonials
ferreting furs from the snow-choked
wastes left in the passing of the
Onkwehonwe’s great green northern gardens—

were sure
to show
you just that
vision of captive beauty, chaste
in paper and plastic swaddle, that
we have been trained since childhood
to hold as a high ideal of Nature’s art,

plucked and stuck
for a few days’ extra
by jet-power, petrochemical alchemy and
sweet poison, the secret bloom of the union maids’
blood on their birthsoil, blood of mothers whose
nations lost their great green tropic gardens
Oh, many ages ago,
who now sweat in the furrows the compradors
keep for their masters, the international
investment set.

They are old now,
your flowers,
arrived at the end
of that brief term
by which the age of blossoms is measured,
and I have taken to pruning out
drooped and shrivel-lipped heads
these last two mornings.

The counter
the crystal-caught
sun’s image burns
is spattered with pollen from their furred stamens,
the petals themselves
and even the captive water
stained a bitter orange
as of saffron or turmeric,
and the stiff pistils’ sugarwet tips, still
straining for some moth or bee’s busy
brush, are pitiful to behold.

Another day,
maybe two,
and they
will all be gone, deadheaded and
limp-leafed, tossed
with the trash for the men
who come, grim-faced with morning,
every Wednesday
to collect.

J. N. Fishhawk is a poet, writer and agitator originally from the swamplands of Florida, temporarily relocated to the Mid-Atlantic swamplands near Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in Devil’s Advocate, StrongVerse, Bacopa, and Half Drunk Muse, among other print and online publications. He is the author of two published chapbooks of poems, Virus, Pt. 1: I Infest Yer Consciousness (Dreaming God Productions, Atlanta, GA, 1994) and Gone (Ghost Dog Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 2005).