Three Poems – Michael Jefferson

And Flying Machines In Pieces On the Ground

My neighbor yells at her daughter the way
someone yells at bees and
the potential of the pain that
comes with its sting, just to spite

you. I guess that’s children.
I guess that’s the way I’ve always heard
It to be like that Carly Simon song that
came to life in 3D, over the years

hurricaning toward my parents
loose levees of accumulated grief, catastrophically
collapsing their ninth ward streets.
They hope their kids will stop

starting forest fires that only they
can see and it is frightening but not
as frightening as the window locking
out the last of those vicarious parental

blueprints of second chance dreams.
What if parents only yell because
their children aren’t the
ornaments they wanted them to be

and so they dread the day their word is
not the law and their ambitions
are not in sync with the navigating
iron in the nose and the vicious

way adolescents someday devour salted shots
with limes smashed by teeth, tossing their
head back methodically grunting at the world
that’s just as bad as they never thought it would be.

And all the people that they loved, also
lie, also cheat, also change themselves
reluctantly, expecting comfort to bring with it the prophesied
promise of the picket fence and dopamine.


The Aquanaut

I read somewhere that whales have a developed part of their brain that emphasizes an obligation to community.
Before they went into the ocean, whales had four feet. What if they were the giants in our storybooks? What if blue whales were these sky-scraping things that lumbered through trees and sent our animal ancestors running?
It must’ve gotten tiring, being able to see everything, being able to feel everything, like some relative beside you, ill and dying.
My cousin Gene found our grandmother dead in her sleep. He lied beside her for hours and when they pulled him from the bed he sat in my kitchen the whole morning crying.
What if the whales we know came to be because one of them got sick and fell into the ocean and its pod just decided to lie there until it found peace?
And then tide pulled them in and over time, their faces and their bodies and their limbs became sleek.
What if the whales that beached themselves are whales that share their ancestor’s memories?
What if beaching themselves is their attempt at walking?
What if they miss the sun, and their fur, and for baleen whales, their teeth?
What if they miss pulling up flowers to see how much butter they must eat?
What if their dialogue was bunched in verses? What if it was this guttural noise of pure moan beauty? Birds chirp melodies while humpbacks sing: Oral histories of cataclysms, and dinosaurs and dinosaurs melting.
Whales must have had some notion of gravity: How it holds you down like someone you tried to save from drowning.


Count the Rings Along the Tree Trunk

And it reads like infinity.
Birds always talk in the language
of the world and its battle with the Woodmen
chopping down trees.

This chorus, this beauty, beats everything
Greek, Lysistrata in her garment
belly swelling up, full and made of everything
and sunlight. Why are women always

casted as the goddess of the moon?
It’s fixed with craters and it’s cold and there’s

side we never see but is there and always
vacant. Men are vacant. Men are things
that have to turn, wax, wane, always orbit by
their mothers ‘til another system forms.

Giving birth to new ecologies that cry
out and explode into blankets, into
arms, given names of the man that
didn’t do any work. Given over to

the mother that felt her
body stretch, burn.

This pure, is our Savior crowned with
of stretch mark gold, her figure is The
Testament: We don’t reap we just sow
making hilltops out of bellies

making women into gold, that you line
along your street like some trophy
to just ogle at while passing on the road.
Raise your eyes.

About Michael Jefferson

Michael Jefferson is from New Haven, Connecticut. His work has been published by tNY.Press, Electric Cereal, and the Long River Review. His dream is to see Powerline, live in concert and his favorite land animal is a bear. View all posts by Michael Jefferson

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