archives spring 2009




Oh to have been in Canada
when the pieces fell
to earth, the fireball late Thursday
over Saskatoon—billion-watt bulbs
that shook the house
and sounded like dinosaurs walking,
                                well . . . Only once
in a thousand births
do mamas land their molten babes like that,
most burn up, entering.  Dumb luck
and we line up—divine, bedeviled.
                                          In California,
a woman in a gown
the color of crude oil
is stranded on a road outside Palm Springs
and thinks emergency,
pointing her flare gun at the stars.

          Red flags rocket, smoke, fizzle,
          then disappear into the atmosphere’s wallet.

The gorilla suits
will wait by the pool,
decked in bling,
stiff cocktails and nuts.

          This is the desert
where a gimp engine groans
          and coyotes guffaw,
circling the shoulder.
                                Nailed to dust,
          the Christ cactus, dumb,
stands paralyzed as ever.

Oh lady of perpetual gimme,
desire your way out of this one.



Shiny, heart-shaped, orange-red orb.
Pride of Powhatan, the Algonquin
linked tribes, your name sifted down,
re-shaped in the great etymological
cookbook: putchanin, pessanine,
 persimmon.  Last night
I ate you sliced thin, mixed
with pomegranate seeds, a splash
of olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt.
Now I’m a fool for Fuyu.
It was Thanksgiving
at my mother in-law’s.
I cooked all afternoon, knowing
disasters loomed ahead: burnt pie,
rogue shards of glass in the gratin,
a scabby remark
about Uncle Bob’s heel. And look,
nothing but wine
and snips of Whitman! The children
shoeless, swapping songs,
surfing the Net.  Persimmon,
I’m not afraid of you anymore.
Let’s beat a drum and dance
buck naked, hunt some deer,
scale a stone cliff,
look wide and far
over a North American plain.
Let’s fill our cups
and come together over candles and puddings,
let’s praise this life, mere life,
the feast my mouth cries over. 


Michelle Bitting has work forthcoming or published in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Narrative, Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Many Mountains Moving, Rattle, Linebreak, and elsewhere. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. In 2007, Thomas Lux chose her full-length manuscript, Good Friday Kiss, as the winner of the DeNovo First Book Award, and C & R Press published it in 2008. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon.