Nicholas Alexander Hayes
As Hard As
In the Pliocene, a giant sloth was beaned with a space rock.
Its flesh rotted, but its skeleton was preserved in rock.
Alchemy or miracle, a boy finds life in a desert,
boundless and bare. A toad encased in rock.
A jogger alone in the universe against his own best time glides
until a pain in his heel brings him down. In his shoe, a rock.
Anxiety flusters as a stranger reminds me of a high school crush.
Calm is restored after a few minutes in the bathroom to get off my rocks.
An associate dean issues edicts to impoverish adjunct faculty.
After work I swallow this news with bourbon on the rocks.
A friend has become engaged for love and financial stability.
She can take fewer adjunct teaching contracts now that she has a rock.
A thunderstorm frightens the cat I try to comfort. She scratches.
The small cut reminds me I am not as hard as a rock.
Feeling suffocated in the Alps, I want other landscapes.
Panicked from perilous heights, I remember other landscapes.
When the clouds momentarily break and the sun becomes a spotlight
on the infinite plains, I forget the grandeur of other landscapes.
When Lake Michigan churns against the pier and ice forms
on our beards, my husband asks if we can vacation in other landscapes.
In June, the media glorifies the coming of beach bodies,
But a tweet reminds me there are other landscapes.
At the botanic garden, we pass from staid Zen garden to the overgrown English one.
Even simulated there is beauty in other landscapes.
John Donne’s hands roamed his mistress’s body like Europeans invading America.
Can I ever again love these words that are oblivious to violence in other landscapes?
40 and naked before the mirror, I can barely remember
how I looked at 20. My body has become other landscapes.
Better than a Dead Lion
Outside a yellow leaf scurries in the sidewalk’s strain release groove.
Inside the boisterous restaurant, after church, revelers strain, release, groove.
Restaurants called poached rabbits, lions – a cynical way of avoiding the law.
Such lions infest gardens cowering under trees in peaceful groves.
Chocolate bunnies spoil appetites for Cotteswold mutton for those who feast
the buried lamb who they say became a lion when released from the grave.
We are but a pride of Cotteswold lions scared of shadows and not wolves.
We are but a pride of Cotteswold lions bleating in our master’s leased grove.