TWO POEMS by Flower Conroy

by Flower Conroy

How is a Tree Like a Snake Like a Heart?

A door you thought locked,
not.  How riddles work.
Sometimes the truth’s warped

I mean wrapped in humor,
& often the simplest unnerves
the hurt the most.  I relapsed.

I tried.
I meant to call.
In Delacroix’s oil-on-canvas,

Tiger Growling
at a Snake, both creatures’
mouths gape.  Both predators’

tails curlicue.  Golden, the ground
as if drought-ravished
& the verdure’s urgent bristles

more umbrage than leaf.
The grimalkin’s ears point
backwards, toward the mountain.

The faux light, a look
in the eye, when you said Never
before walking out

into the afternoon.
Both bodies hunched.
Wound.  Tongues curled,

teeth flashing, sour breaths
clashing, the cat pits
its throaty gnarr

against the asp’s rasping.
Only one survives.  If you cut
open the tree

the serpent chokes
& count the rings—
but no, it’s impossible

to enter into the inevitable
carnage of the painting.
I lied.  No one survives.

Have you ever awoken in a dew-soaked field

disoriented & unable to decipher
in which direction the sky moves?
At first I believed

myself paralyzed.
Then my legs coagulated, my arms
reattached, I blinked

spiders from my eyes.
Oscillating background cycle
of radiation—you’d be surprised

what summersaults through
the starry abyss, carried on waves:
cogs, paint chips, a lipstick-

sized capsule containing Gene
Roddenberry’s ashes;
a single glove.

I hungered.  Thirsted.
Where was it I was headed?
If I squinted, trees

frayed into fractals.
Swarm of proboscis
& wings, mosquitoes

drew welts as I walked
toward the yellow halo
of the Waffle House.

Toward the end
of its life the sun
will swell into a red

floating terror digesting
all matter.  Body of
pulsation.  Body of

pulsation.  I drank the coffee,
answered Need
a lift? with a stare & a nod.

What could be more
fantastic, more farfetched
than this—our orrery

existence?  The cab stank
of cigarettes & midnights
no matter

the pine tree air freshener
dangling from the rearview.
As above so below—

who said that,
did they mean this living?
At its core, a mouth.  Inside

the mouth, another mouth.
What happened before
this is still a mystery.

Flower Conroy is the author of three chapbooks: Facts About Snakes & Hearts, winner of Heavy Feather Press’ Chapbook Contest; The Awful Suicidal Swans; and Escape to Nowhere.  She is the winner of Radar Poetry’s first annual Coniston Prize and the Tennessee Williams Exhibit Poetry Contest, as well as a scholarship recipient of Bread Loaf, Squaw Valley, Napa Valley and the Key West Literary Seminar.  Her poetry has appeared/is forthcoming in American Literary ReviewPrairie Schooner, Gargoyle and others.

Image: “Tiger Growling at a Snake” by Eugène Delacroix (1862), Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.


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