Two Poems from Karen Douglass
Adaptation and Escape
Probably I should not be
a higher organism,
this proud, fanciful DNA
not enviable, given how many days
when I care more about laundry
than loving. Better wake up,
make coffee, take a shower,
lather, rinse, repeat--maybe I will
go down the drain with the soap.
No one will guess my escape route,
clambering like a manatee
from the water treatment plant,
making a rapid devolution
into a slender creature with
gills and lungs, a hybrid
morphing to suit the new day,
on a fast track to the future
of my race, surviving
Guys down at the Texaco station
play poker, tell their boys,
Shoot for the heart, Don’t
spoil the meat or your trophy.
Georgia heat wedges a man between
sweet magnolia and murder.
Bullet holes in the wall, finally
his wife leaves, her soul
squealing like a white rat.
At Fort Stewart, big guns fire.
Dogs bark, What! What!
The Confederate statue faces north;
no one dares paint Loser on his back.
Words jump down, shout around,
flightless birds. The news shudders
in my hands. The body
of a young man, curbstone in his mouth,
a dead man, woman, child, two children,
twelve, a hundred, children’s children--
no one stops the bullet. It explodes
in the skull, carotid, jugular. I’m sick
of it. All the guns. The hands clapping.
Karen Douglass' books include Red Goddess Poems; Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse (non-fiction); Sostenuto, (poems) and The Great Hunger (poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009). Individual poems have appeared in a wide variety of publications.