Few people would mourn a snail

He was a daily constant, a familiar
friend. The last known snail of his kind,
the final Achatinella apexfulva.

It is said that everyone dies alone,
but that was doubly true for George, alone
at the end both in his cage and in the world.

(From The Last of Its Kind)

Can you die of a broken heart?

Researchers have looked at what goes on in the brain,
and for lovers and addicts it’s exactly the same.

Those who are newly in love
experience joy in their minds from a dopamine flood.

And it’s this same pattern that goes on in the brain
as that which occurs when you’re hooked on cocaine.

So in the first throes of passion you’re literally addicted to love,
and that’s probably why those feelings all hurt so much.

(From Can you die of a broken heart? Submitted by Ben Mellor)

Let’s Bubble Up to the Surface and Smell the Numbers

now when things went south for you…
and the value has obviously increased…
that’s my question where’s the damage…

assume that everything went horribly wrong…
what’s your damage assume your damage…

you can’t just roll on and on…
let’s make the motions…
let’s start pushing this…

a healthy lawyer-to-lawyer relationship…
give me whatever you got…
to me it sounds a little skeptical…

so what I’m thinking is…
maybe what I can do is…
something like that could even…
if I have to hire somebody like that I just might…

you got burned on this one but life moves on my friend…
I think we need to take care of all the…
and then you and I will sit down and…

bubble up to the surface, smell the numbers…
get all our ducks in a row…
stop the hemorrhaging…

this is my stop I’m getting off…
call my girl…
we’ll get your gravy back…

(A cellphone conversation overheard on the Long Island Rail Road. Submitted by Derek Owens)

One of my hermits is moulting

What should I do?
Nothing. Moulters already
have to suffer from stress.
Disturbing them will make it worse.
Place a cave over them
to provide darkness.
Most will harden.

How do I distinguish a dead hermit?
Look for a claw in the shell.
The eyes should be hollow
and translucent.
The eyes of dead hermits
are dark in colour, just like
when they were alive.

How long should I wait?
You are better digging
up a dead hermit
three months later
than stressing one to death
that was alive and could
have surfaced on its own.

Why is my hermit being lethargic?
This is normal behaviour.
Offer protein and calcium.
There is not much else you can do.
Sometimes they experience
difficulty shedding
so they give up and drop.

(From Hermit Crab Paradise, April 2016. Submitted by Linda Goulden)

I’m afraid

I’m afraid of oncoming trains and that feeling
right before a train approaches and the wind is all around you,
when you have no choice but to submit to the surge.

I’m afraid of death, but not like normal death.
I died in a dream and floated above myself
as an amorphous gas. It was strange and terrifying.

I’m afraid of heights, when you are forced
to see just how big everything is around you
and how little it all has to do with you.

I’m afraid that I can only give love to people
I know will hurt me. If the right kind of love
came into my life, I wonder if I’d be able to accept it.

I’m afraid that if I told someone that I love them,
they would think it was stupid — like the Valentines’ card
that just gets thrown away. I don’t want to be thrown away.

I’m afraid I wasn’t good enough for him, and that’s why
he didn’t love me anymore. Years of him telling me
that wasn’t the case haven’t put to rest this nagging idea.

I’m afraid of owning things, other than clothes.
The things you let into your life break or break you.
I’m still learning how to live with the things that are broken.

I’m afraid I attach too much self-worth to what other people
think of me. I hate that I always expect him not to call
and am surprised when he does.

I’m afraid I only see the worst in people
or that I expect too much out of them.
This is a metaphor for expecting too much of myself.

I’m afraid that my father and I will never get to a point
where being around him doesn’t make me want to cry
both for no reason and for every reason.

I’m afraid I can’t stop secretly wanting his approval,
no matter how much he hurts me.
I’m afraid this is a cliché.

I’m afraid that everything inside of me is unoriginal,
not worthy of saying out loud. Sometimes I don’t open my mouth
because I’m worried about what will come out if I do.

I’m afraid that I spend so much time trying to do
something that I’ll feel proud of when I’m older
that I forget to be happy right now, in the moment.

I’m afraid that my worry’s not worthy of sharing,
so when people ask me how I am, I say “fine”.
I wouldn’t be able to tell them what’s wrong.

I’m afraid that when people read this they’ll think
I’m another whiny, spoiled, self-conscious twenty-something
that just needs to lighten up and relax.

I worry that I haven’t even earned the right to be anxious,
because what do I even know about suffering?
This makes me want to cry, but I don’t remember how.

I’m afraid you didn’t read this or finish it,
or that it got lost in the shuffle of the billions of things
and that I gave away a part of myself for nothing.

I’m also afraid that you’ll know exactly how I feel, too,
because you feel these same things every day.
I’m afraid that I’m not alone.

(From 25 things I’m afraid of. Submitted by Angi Holden)

Man Adrift

He felt at times as if he were still in the Navy,
adrift on the sea, peering down through the vents

the way he used to squint through binoculars
on deck duty, keeping a lookout for objects

of interest. Life in the attic was humdrum.
His motel was a drydocked boat whose guests

endlessly watched television, exchanged
banalites, had sex mainly under the covers

if they had sex at all–and gave him so little
to write about that sometimes he wrote nothing at all.

(From The Voyeur’s Motel. Submitted by DawnCorrigan)

Until the Frost Hit

I.

indian medicines were made
from roots and herbs
boneset
which the creeks called angelica
was used for a purgative
and likewise button snakeroot
used for the same purpose
dogwood root and butterfly root
including goldenrod were used
as you would use quinine to break a
fever
frost root
and a root they called doctor
dick root was used as a medicine

in eighteen eighty one
there was a smallpox epidemic
at okmulgee indian territory
and it came near wiping out the
entire population of this village

II.

i have seen grass so tall here
that you could ride through it
on a horse and it would be
over your head in places
when they made hay on some farms
they would cut until the frost hit
this was certainly fine land
for cattle ranches

we raised a little corn and cotton
we had horses that
did not know what corn was
in fact they would not eat it
we pastured some cattle
for years and at one time my husband
helped handle seven thousand head
for mister brown

in nineteen o seven
oil was discovered near morris
the first well was drilled
north of here

(From interviews with Muscogee (Creek) Indians, 1937-38. Source: Indian-Pioneer Papers, University of Oklahoma. Submitted by James Treat)

each one of us is in a different place

I keep thinking about what
 is happening to us
are we going to die
God forbid

are we going to arrive
if we arrive what will happen
this is what we are worried about

we were always afraid
there was always war
where we lived

and once three shells fell
on our neighbourhood
but luckily nothing happened

we didn’t know about these things
now that it’s happened
we know 
what war is now we know

men were taken 

against their will
they would have made my brothers 


go with them by force
who would work
if my brothers had to go with them

we would be left 

without money
or anything


we were living well with each other
but now it’s all destroyed
each one of us is in a different place


in the boat they told us
you have to throw away your bags
you cannot take anything


I wasn’t seeing anything
I was sitting in the middle
the guys would say

a wave is coming

(From a video about 13-year-old Mustapha arriving in Greece as a Syrian refugee. Submitted by Laura McKee)

Dementia

I am nothing. You are right.
I’m like someone who’s been thrown
into the ocean at night.

Floating all alone, I reach out,
but no one’s there. I have
no connection to anything.

The closest thing
I have to a family is you, but you
hold on to the secret.

Meanwhile, your memory
deteriorates day by day.
Along with your memory,

the truth about me is lost.
Without the aid of truth I’m nothing,
and I can never be anything.

You’re right about that, too.

(From Haruki Murakami’s Town of Cats, translated by Jay Rubin. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan)

Man overboard

I find myself, in my plush seat,
going farther and farther away,
sort of creatively visualizing

an epiphanic Frank Conroy-type moment
of my own, trying to see the hypnotist
and subjects and audience and ship

itself with the eyes of someone
not aboard, imagining the m. v. Nadir
right at this moment, all lit up

and steaming north, in the dark,
at night, with a strong west wind
pulling the moon backward through

a skein of clouds—the Nadir
a constellation, complexly aglow,
angelically white, festive, imperial.

Yes, this: it would look like
a floating palace to any poor soul
out here on the ocean at night, alone

in a dinghy, or not even in a dinghy
but simply and terribly floating,
treading water, out of sight of land.

(From David Foster Wallace’s Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise. Submitted by Dawn Corrigan)