Barbara Daniels’ Talk to the Lioness is forthcoming from Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Her other full-length book of poetry, Rose Fever, was published by WordTech Press. Daniels’ poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and many other journals. She received three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
The neighbor dogs
into invisible fences,
absorb the shocks,
open their mouths
in wet rictuses.
How can you keep on
walking and eating
and not see the raisins
as shriveled eyes?
I’m alert as a heron
when traffic spasms
a half block away.
All you see near us
is empty sky, but
I think a hurricane
towards us. I’ll fall
water glass tipped
to the floor, devices
the chimney sooty
and raw. Look
at those eddies
of gum wrappers,
those dogs with teeth
that almost glow.
How to Earn Your Way
People will pay you to cry
for them—let gravity pull mucous
and tears into vertical strands.
The stump of an arm mourns
a lost hand and the delicate whorls
of its fingertips. Even a dog
remembers his childhood. He
learned to be last, turn his belly
and throat to the teeth of the pack.
A blurred landscape opens
for a sluggish river. White smoke
gathers among the chimneys,
blooming in last light. Nothing is
nothing. Watch for tenons projecting
from beams. Erratic motion.
Planed, polished, toothed wheels.
People will pay for what you know—
where trees are burning, how many
burn, how to put colors onto wheels
and spin them till they disappear.
My Year Without You
In January, finches flapped
their wings like frantic infants
and offered seeds to each other,
rituals of courtship. I turned my back
on a moon wide as two fingers.
In July, delicate Queen Anne’s lace
with its umbels and pedicels
bloomed in yellow light, the left
side of my body sadder, the right
side numb. A gray jay roosted
on gravestones in November. I read
that it’s friendly, but it wouldn’t come
to my hand. Maples waited in dirty
snowbanks. Then spring on probation
stepped through the bars. A sputtering
drainpipe dropped water to soil.
Rain touched my hands and arms.
My face tipped toward the sky.