Thursday Jul 18

ThomasAmberFlora Amber Flora Thomas is the author of two collections of poems: Eye of Water, selected by Harryette Mullen for the 2004 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and The Rabbits Could Sing, selected by Peggy Shumaker for the Alaska Literary Series in 2011. A recipient of the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize, Richard Peterson Prize, and Ann Stanford Prize, she is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at East Carolina University. Her third collection, Red Channel in the Rupture, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2018.

A Wild Thing

If you thought there was sorrow in the bear,
its one-eyed gaze from inside her teeth,
shook against her jowls, and slobbered upon.

If you thought there was a better day
and more fun to be had, the bow
glued at its throat gone, the plaid
vest with a new fringe.

Stolen from its shelf where dolls
and stuffed horses wait for parties
and a child’s snug sleep to bloom
from its faux fur these clouds.

If you thought to pick polyester fiberfill
out of the sunflowers, gather synthetic streamers
across the lawn and caught in the fence spikes
could wear you down.

Your house pulled open by this joy
and the brown dog dancing her flaccid kill
over the gate. So you tug the teddy bear
from her mouth and scold a story
that has put the sky on the earth again.

Here, saying, open that ragged gut of fluff
be gone in wild places, be grateful anyway
if this is the worst thing that happens
on your street today.

The Age of Forgetting

This happens with the rapture too.
Leaving your Birkenstocks and
brown sweater waiting at the chair
with a cold cup of coffee. A gift
of peacock feathers nodding in
a mason jar by the window. Served up

by science as brain atrophy. Shrapnel
misting cranial stars. Arias in oblivion
sending you into a remote outback
of lippy frostings and creams smeared
on spoons. Tripping until you tripped
into the white rabbit’s downy belly fluff.

The rooms sucked away like cellophane
caramels and fizzy root beer pop. At first,
great-great grandmother Wickliffe and
our Cherokee in Tennessee appeared
as snapshots. Your newspaper route
in 1955. The stories you had to deny

undressed by a cloud front. Your
disappearance like motion trapped
in a marble; the finite air bubbles
cruising that cosmos probably
breath. Little god raising your drunk,
smoked-out white flag at my entire life.

The Old Horse

He broke on linoleum flats
where he was made to play cowgirl.
Barrels and plastic cows he vaulted through
tumbled. His quarter split like a wing into the flank,
and his tail came away as well. Hollowness
all through the hoof.

The girl put her finger in the hole,
nicking her skin on a new edge, and thought
the horse trembled.

Leaning him against the barn, his three-legged
slouch facing a light pool in the hallway, she carried
his leg to her mother. “Fix this,” she said.

Superglue later and his canter
tore through the blazing desert outside
the fence. Splinters showing,
the buff barrel racer stretched his neck
beneath her hand.

Always there then: her breath
trapped inside his body, that thin
pocket. The fragrant taste of plastics
and the mercury of loving him
so much, she could afford
to close away the song.