Anti-Pastoral for Twenty-Faced Pathogen

Neither milkweed
nor rose-apple
in Schenck’s Anguish,

          only a murder
          of crows sprouting
          at the perimeter

of a mother’s
suffering. Nature is
a near synonym

          of cruelty—look
          how I temple
          its impure. Every

year, death-positive.
My kisses are
darts —I sweat

          poison too heavy
          for oleanders to carry.

In the quiet
of frost, death looks

          on, wanting to be
          important, & pulls
          a lamb’s head

under tires. If not
a metaphor,
then foreknowledge.

          As a carpenter, Jesus
          made chairs, tables,
          shelves—investigating, all

the while, the
role of nails
in forgiveness. In

          Schenck’s Anguish, I
          mistook a mother’s
          roar for a screech.

Neither rose-apple
nor milkweed here,
only the long con

          of anger. As if
          anger could raise
          the dead, stop my liver

from losing color.
I know you are here
for no reason

          other than to
          make my skull
          a flowerpot—amaryllises,

lilies, tulips—
a realm of dread
& decay. As

          if my roaring
          could still
          a cytokine storm.