MID-SEPTEMBER, MARYLAND
 
           By mid-September the nights
in Maryland are already cool. Across my
lawn chair’s white porcelain arm, a
spider drags his flat shadow like a farmer
inspecting his soybean field.
 
                             2.
 
           In Tampa, my grandfather stoked
blue ashes from his fireplace as flames leapt
like bobcats into our darkened living room.
 
                             3.
 
           When I was quite young, visiting
Tampa, peacocks wandered through
my bedroom window. Around six in the
morning, their stained-glass cries were sad
epiphanies, one of the earliest signs that
I was not alone in the universe.
 
                             4.
 
           A pale maple leaf, with one tiny
ink-stain of yellow, falls from September’s
black lips.
 
 
 
THROUGH THE DARKNESS
 
One cicada
leaps
from a cigarette lighter.
 
Another escapes
through darkness
past my
right ear,
a third
my left.
 
Sometimes
when alone
in a crowded supermarket
I feel their
warm ashes
in my pockets
as I loiter
the syrupy yogurts,
cartons of butter
decorated
by vague
Native American princesses,
& cheese slices
individually wrapped in cellophane.
 
 
BLACKBIRD PIE                                      
 
One very
early Christmas morning,
I cranked
a black handle
on a tin pie;
a blackbird
popped up!
 
I was
delighted,
evidenced
by the fact
that I cranked
that handle
again, again,
& again.
 
My mother sang
the blackbird song,
prodding my diminutive imagination
to consider birds
hatching inside my pie.
 
I was mesmerized
by the birds’
black-lacquered wings,
black dots for eyes,
leaping
from a tin pie.
 
Restless
I churned
that black handle
to see where
metal birds
lived.
 
Was there
a blackbird
universe 
hiding
deep inside
my pie?
 
I complained
a bit
when 
one bird
eventually got stuck
half-way
in the pie’s tin opening,
but I
hadn’t
actually mastered
the art
of complaint
just yet,
so I
watched
dust
settle
like goose down
Kentucky snow
on my
crippled pie,
each time
I toddled by,
again,
again,
& again.
 
 
 
 © Alan Britt
 
Alan Britt’s new book, Vegetable Love, is out from March Street Press, 2009:
www.marchstreetpress.com