Michael Walsh


Ticking louder
against the electric fence,

weak in the crossed mess of stems,
weeds break under your stick.

An underground signal
beats in their roots.

Brush a leaf, a wire by accident
and you turn the wrong dial.

The sudden, terrible sun
pounds the air white,

the ground black as static.
For hours after

your fingertips babble, their prints
strange as radio waves.



Searching the creeping charlie and wild grape
you can't tell fallen branch from axle,

barbed wire from the vine that burns
like a fuse through the tangle.

Two boxelders have twisted their trunks
through a plow's rusted frame, landlocked

the blades. On a hay rack's gray slats
a field of thick, dusty mold blooms.

Somewhere inside these thorns and burrs:
car batteries black and juicy with acid,

deflated innertubes that stick like leeches
to the dirt. And underneath the plants and junk,

rust welds together the lost washer rings.
Bolts hibernate like seeds. Screws burrow.




These poems arise from studies of what I call lyrical locations, which I define as places so full of emotions and ideas that they cease to be settings.