instinct

“Instinct”, “Cherry Horses” and “Epiglottis”

by Samuel Cole

instinct

Instinct

serious psoriasis         serious eyebrows

higher, higher, higher

I was five and secretly wondered

if my mother was a crater                   if my father was a scarecrow

let off from some planet                     let off from some hook

by a

vanilla queen               hairstylist king

who

rejected and cast out               plucked and shaped

scary things

it could not stand

to recast,         to reshape,

was father’s accusation when he                    was mother’s accusation when she

thought my ears lay dreaming

in clean silence—in bed—

but I was awake, heartbeat adrift

among the sounds of

cosmic collision

teakettle whistling                   fireplace crackling

sizzling firefly lights               barking neighbor Dalmatians

squeezing my face deep into               beating the back of my head into

the pillow

casting worries

toward

a painted fish,             a hunting knife,

silken scales and a clear tail                 silver glint and a sharp tip

sketching a white line

a swirl of motion

swimming away                      carving away

down, down, down                 lower, lower, lower

to another planet                     to another hook

far below

the creamy luster of the moon                        the scraggly aspens in the woods

Cherry Horses

Like the hunger we discovered

inside a barn with a picture window shut tight,

making love with unmasked fervor because

transparency to boys who willingly linger


in the scrub are birds riding the wind

through lime trees deep in the dunes

above the proof of existence: retracing every

regret: we’ve been there. But what of you, enticed,


enthralled, entranced with how a song

becomes its own myth and religion: out from the dark,

polished in the tube of a throat, so stubborn.

I know what it’s like to lie sleepless in your brook,


both as the willow (and) the gardener,

scrawled on a wall of ivy behind something

performed in the service of truth. Already beaten.

Lying naked on a bamboo mat, we felt


our hearts stop searching for instructions, day

after day, chamber by chamber, the high notes descending.

I can live in flotsam and dirt, though

I won’t get far: a storm howling with


beauty is the aftermath

wrestling through the pale wings of morning

breaking into your arms. I remember

there are many kinds of hunger,


but it would make no difference. Every sequence,

in every city, all one the earth, even the

shining in the hair at the nape of your neck, the dark

back of the curve held in by itself finds us scurrying away,


removing ourselves from the bossy,

because those not found

form sounds in such a way

as all we did was wait there. Keeping vigil.

Epiglottis

Cloaked in a dense, sooty haze,

chimney fires blazing

skylines to earthworms,


record coldness outlasting

lower rung wood prices and

fresh food and it’s a near


impossibility for death to not

wail multitude horrors

filling the dark corners


of the city’s labyrinth streets,

penniless masses huddled like

a giant coat splayed without


buttons, braids, or beauty,

because faithfulness is not yet as

important as straight. Close. Coming.


Bring scissors, tape, and finer needles.

Gods like their fashion tidy. Like their followers.

Like the robes holy-smoke men swish upstairs


far from soot, earthworms, and corners;

far from wound-scabbed hushmarks

rumbling across the bridge,


looking neither at the river nor at the poverty,

too busy fraternizing with other transfusionists

cloaked in a dense, sooty ha

About the Author

Samuel Cole

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Samuel Cole lives in Woodbury, MN, where he finds work in special event/development management. He’s a poet, flash fiction geek, and political essayist enthusiast. His work has appeared in many literary journals, and his first poetry collection, Bereft and the Same-Sex Heart, was published in October 2016 by Pski’s Porch Publishing. His second book, Bloodwork, a collection of short stories, was published in July 2017. He is also an award-winning card maker and scrapbooker.