We Return to the Forest
Plagues of minivans descend like locusts
upon the blighted forests. Barefoot folk,
wearing thistles in their tangled hair
and chewing dandelion weeds, tuck geodes
into their flannel for luck. In dark thickets,
deer nuzzle pine needles, nervously worrying
about mass shooters at the farmer’s market.
Opossums sleep in their pebbly dens, dreaming
of Wall Street numbers and hand-pressed coffee.
Dragonflies buzz near the hikers, eager to hear
their speech so they, too, can learn the secrets
of agriculture. After sunset, the forest glows
with fireflies trying to replicate streetlights,
stop signs, the unearthly neon fire
of 24-hour convenience stores. A feral dog
who has spent all day sleeping in the bracken
now awakens. It wanders through the underbrush,
eating lizards and wishing it was asleep. Nearby,
something screams in the darkness and cries
for help. The dog growls but ignores the cry,
trying instead to remember if its dreams
were reality or the other way around.
In the Dark Field
In the dark field, the crickets gather
in their cathedral of dove bones.
Their sawblade hymns sweep the witchgrass
and gather in the pitch-pine’s needles.
They dream of angels—seraphim
with stag-beetle mandibles
and glittering masks of dragonfly eyes.
Their wings are spun of silk and ichor.
When the thunderstorm breaks,
the muddy earth swells. Worms writhe
up from the soft darkness into the rainwind—
silent, blind, terrified.
The field floods. The witchgrass turns
to seaweed. The dove bones break apart,
are borne away in bits. The crickets all drown.
You’d never know they’d been there.
Samuel T. Franklin is the author of two books of poetry: Bright Soil, Dark Sun (2019) and The God of Happiness (2016). A Best of the Net nominee, he resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where he enjoys making useful things out of wood scraps and losing staring contests to his cats. He can be found at samueltfranklin.com.