“without invention nothing is well spaced”
// William Carlos Williams
Unmown acres fallow fester. Mice building grass tunnels
through the foot-high forest of their primeval uncivilized
lives. Caches among their pathways, stored safe for winter
months to come. Heaps of unshelled nutmeats like calves-
brains in oil sealed into tins. Stacked daisy stems. Sacks of
dried bluebottle flies taste of burnt cherry and lemon slices
when chewed into leathery moistness in our hunger at mid-
day in midwinter.
Caverns fill with dry mouseshit like soft fat black rice. To
burn in the cold; to burrow into at a time when desperate
hiding is called for. Grass beds and clay windows curtained
by tree-roots. Walls gemmed with curled beetle grubs. A
plow slicing through the turf roof tumbles the house into ruins,
their careful stores spilt and mouse children turned into
chapters of tiny bloody tragedies. Folk songs lack proportion.
Fools look back.
Trains tunnel beneath the earth. Mice rut and multiply in
dens under roof-work of iron rails and tarred sleepers. Trash
ignites on the tracks. Missile-men in silos burn their rations.
The pantry shelves filled with food uneaten or inedible. Ap-
plause that is the rain on the soil ceiling, or the shut shutters.
Chewing that is the applause of mice taking their meals. A
universe painful at the microscale shimmering with self-
The sun like a boat drowns. The starlike boats keeping their
distance in the darkness, not wishing to be swamped by vic-
tims flailing to climb aboard. Stories of the dark sea that arcs
overhead like a body in spasm, rooted to earth at the heels
and skull-bone, fore and astern. The body a tetanic rainbow.
Snap of a shorted circuit. Spark-smell of sulphur and violet
fur. A handful of tiny bones in the gravel, disused letterforms.
The window painted with breath smoke. The grass burning.
Last days of youth ending unannounced. Did I breathe in, for
remembering, the smell of ox-eye daisy and sweetfern? Birds
limp. No likeness of music in the shape of things. Mouse-
bodies like dropped wallets on the rocks between the tracks,
dead of governing laws unaffordable. Who said we can’t lie in
the earth? Who said we must wear matched shoes? Soft pink
Underground a hidden cave or woodland pool or oolong sea
conceals a solution to the ongoing struggle against unfeeling.
The landscape a page with its orderly plots or a burying
ground patchwork of new sod, disturbed earth, new sod, dis-
turbed earth. Planets around other suns. Roots infiltrating
tunnel walls. Silverfish tunneling through walls of books, our
skin scale-armored in grey metal to resist the weight of earth.
Our lungs crushed breathless under the weight of soot, salt,
silt; under the weight of realizing that a burial is an offering,
consumed by rot and beetle-jaws in innumerable small
priestly bites; that a word is an imago cenotaph; that a page
is dead skin peeled off a granite marker; that a shoe dipped
in the Dead Sea gathers a weight of salt on its surface equiva-
lent to that of a beetle mob devouring a meal that was a man.
Garners a weight of crusted salt on its surface equivalent to
that of the ninety lives a person lives. A good idea, salt shoes.
To attract deer, melt snow, match the silver grains of the
grass in the underworld. To crush the daisy, releasing fra-
grance and the hold dreams had upon you. To season the oo-
long sea. We prolong the walk, walk slowly with tremendous
care so as not to disrespect the wife of Lot whose body we
// Manchester Center, VT
Zachary Bos directs the publishing work of Pen & Anvil Press, and coordinates campus publication projects for the Boston University BookLab. He is an alumnus of the graduate poetry workshops at BU, and has read and taught widely in New England. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @zakbos.
Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.