(Andreas Vendelbo/Unsplash)


All lemon-lime, and caught
in the curb, ginkgo wings mind thin spines,
brightly pathetic.
If they move, they move with whip-wind obligation,
then resume a heaviness. If they fly, they fly
from boot tread, briefly.

For weeks now, trees have heaved freight
overboard—pods and cones
and the final, reluctant prophets. Like a tick,
I couch in disconsolation.
Somewhere a river birch is resolutely flayed alive.
Shed your self-pity. I sleep to survive.




Cars languish in their daily stations
when a cool front rolls into the parking lot.
A strict row of balding maples
separates commerce from subdivision
above the runoff drainage ditch,
which waits like a big bird’s lower beak
for a drink. Heavy clouds, then
downpour, anxious to settle
fast, sluice and gutterspew glazing over itself
down the grade to the tilted bill.
But its gullet is blocked, leaf-infested.
Days: and the rain stops.


Sun on Monday. I come with my rake.
Arduously, seepage had inched
from the drain’s brim through clotted
humus at its PVC esophagus. Now
the bright yellow film which remained
festers in freak ninety-degree heat. I scrape
the septic surface open to its chocolate
underbelly, stench and a spirit
of skeeters lift, released. Brooding air
seems like an extension of me,
as I stuff globs into large paper bags.
Breaking from the wet weight.

Josiah Cox currently serves as a junior lecturer in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Bad Lilies, Christianity and Literature, Ekstasis magazine, the North American Anglican Poet’s Corner, the Blue Mountain Review, and elsewhere. He is from Kansas City, Missouri.

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Published in the October 2023 issue: View Contents
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