David Thornbrugh is a Ring of Fire poet based in Seattle, Washington, USA. In his poetry, he strives to make sense of existence, and to lessen some of the gloom he feels as the natural world fades further and further into the past and the future looks less and less viable. He finds life without humor not worth the effort, and the idea of being a poet in America pretty funny.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Making concrete the concept of
too much of a good thing
isn’t difficult. Think alcoholism,
internet porn, cable TV, facial tattoos,
any genitalia piercing.
Or, to be specific, the meal
meat eaters Ric and Rieko served us
when we said “We eat fish”:
red skinned white flesh octopus
like geisha kisses
chunked with thin slices of autumn orange pumpkin,
green salad thickly questioned
by pink shrimp,
and two kinds of spaghetti,
one bloodied by tomato sauce glopping shrimp,
more shrimp, and the addition
of scallops cooked whole
the Japanese way, the guts still on
the muscle like a petticoat
clenching an oil drum,
the other pasta slick with oil
and garlic and O-ring body slices
of the unassuming squid,
all followed by slices of apple,
kiwi and strawberry,
plus three kinds of cheese.
All watched by the yellow eyes
of a cat named Lemon,
who doesn’t believe
too much of a good thing
That’s why, three weeks later,
I’m still pulling strands of his fur
off my Polartec shirt.
Faking a Clean Sweep
Overnight, the spaceport sprouted
on the edge of town,
practically in our backyard.
No matter how hard I pointed,
Mamma and Sis weren’t interested.
“The stars are God’s smallest fire,
Mamma said, and every word
I speak to Sis is sand in her eye.
But I saw silhouettes of angels
standing on folded wings.
I knew there would be heroes
in glass armor, docile dragons,
glory and honor as close as coconuts
for those with long enough arms,
and women more beautiful
than storms at sea.
I have never not needed
to escape my life,
the slow erosion of broom bristles
abrading the concrete floor,
the broken glass my teachers fed me.
Pedigreed Pets Are the Most Expensive
We drove out into the country today
and dumped the phoenix.
Found a dormant volcano
and left it on a slope of black ash.
“Better than burning down another cage”
Dad said. Claims he didn’t know
the bird was mythical when he bought it.
“The guy didn’t speak much English.
Said something about a fire sale.”
When we got home,
our house was a pile of ashes,
with a tiny yellow bird nestled
in the embers. Now we’re in the market
for illegal asbestos.
Deep in the Jungle
We have arrived at the lost city,
just where the professor’s map said it would be.
None too soon; our native bearers fled, days back,
on the other side of the River of Ghosts.
My sense of being watched just grows stronger.
Amanda is frightened, I know, but she never complains.
She helps her father trace the worn incisions
in the stones obscured by vines and tree roots,
deciphering the hieroglyphics of the city founders.
If the professor is right, we’ll soon stand
where no man has stood since Noah’s ark
left the drowned land behind, and the doves
took three days to fly beyond the flood.
I don’t recognize these trees drooping branches
like dead men’s arms, and no animals eat
their clumpy, brain-like fruit. Hunger I can bear,
but the silence is like nothing I have ever known.
Not a bird, not a snake, not a rat or monkey or mouse.
The professor is shouting something, something about
the people of the long tooth. I don’t like
the way the sky is darkening.
What is Amanda looking at beyond the wall?
What did the native bearers mean by
“the ghosts of bad water?”
The door that wasn’t there before beckons.
The New Dispensation
White feathers from the chickens
I plucked for lunch drift the kitchen floor:
I am back to the basics, chopping wood
for fuel from the local park,
trapping raccoons for the fur,
home growing my own high.
We pee in pots for the sulphur
to make our own gunpowder.
For electricity, we generate our own
by spinning like dervishes, like politicians,
rub the static from the air by stroking stray cats.
Winter is coming on, and all good citizens
need to be prepared.