lives in the beautiful Happy Valley area of western Massachusetts with her husband and son.
Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Poem, The Seattle Review, The Southern Anthology, and she appeared as the featured poet in the December 2008 edition of ouroboros review .
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A Microorganism Walks Into A Bar
Say, for the sake of the joke, it’s Archaea,
elusive prokaryote, now spiraling
(the way a pillar of smoke might) into the bar,
skating across the wide maple flooring,
dodging the flannelled elbows of these two grizzled regulars
who thumb gruntingly through the small dish of nuts.
We never see the bartender’s face in these jokes.
We assume he’s blandly handsome, no scars, never
with tales of his own to tell and nothing better to do
than tend the bar, setting up steins and punch lines
for every rabbi, lawyer, blind man, and pirate
that stumbles into the place.
Perhaps when he’s not bartending
he chatters in Greek to starlings
that roost on his windowsill,
throws Raku pots, journals his dreams,
computes complex motion equations.
We wouldn’t know. We’re not invited there.
We are only invited into this bar, where just now
Archaea is hovering mid-air beside him,
according to the mysterious phenomenology
of this sort of joke, which renders it visible
to the naked eye and capable of flight.
It’s not every day a microorganism walks into your bar,
but this bartender, he’s seen it all. Talking horses.
Lewd displays of irregular anatomy. Royalty.
Archaea gleams in the dim light and he just stands there,
wiping the mouth of a shining glass with a rag. Maybe
he’s dreaming ahead to the end of his shift. He sees himself
hand-feeding figs to the starlings, feeding the crazed pot
into smoking sawdust, not feeding lines to this joker.
He should put down the glass, the rag, let someone else
tend the bar and play the straight man.
He could travel to Belize. Swim with dolphins. Paint.
But instead, he finishes polishing the glass
and slides it across the bar toward shimmering Archaea.
“What’ll it be?” he asks,
and everyone in the joint stops
and leans forward, breathless for the reply.