Two Poems by Michael Cadnum


The Bee

A ricochet,
she races, lingers,
hurries to be forgotten,
the single vowel of a teeming alphabet,
too small to carry meaning.
Privation and bright colors,

these are what stir the amber full-stop,
this fragment made of hunger.
Dawn too cool,
noon too hot, where is peace
for this searcher? The chapter is the same,
beginning and beginning,

another blossom with a secret nearly as sweet
as its promise.
Almost followed by almost,

she survives beyond knowledge.
Even her dance of distance and direction
is the gavotte of decimals learning a new
place among the zeroes, notes finding a new
high-point within the octave as she

zig-zags, color to color,
clover to fuchsia to sage
in the only daylight.


Bee Swarm

Diving into its own intensity,
getting all the time greater
in noise and force. A frantic, powerful
entity not connected with the dawn or the night,
an inflamed person risen up furiously
primed, and not nearly finished, getting
greater in girth and sound

with a timbre like a gregorian single-note, a swell of voices
enthralled by its own harmonics.
A slowly lifting gordian knot
of riot that sparks
flint-chips, amber arrowpoints, a fighting host
hovering and casting a boiling shadow
above the sidewalk where the frail ivy
has just the day before been
tucked into the erosion-wrinkled land,

the wan green flags of the novice ground-cover nothing,
not even living, compared with this
muscled rage that by an hour’s
tumult is absent, gone, two or three
spent winged splinters of the once-great
concord left behind on the ground,
while everything else has swept onward
to the places where day hides its power.

Published in the June 2, 2017 issue: 

Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books, including the National Book Award Finalist novel The Book of the Lion. His most recent book of poetry, Kingdom, includes many poems that first appeared in Commonweal. He is working on a new book of poems, The Promised Rain. He lives in Albany, California.

Also by this author
Poem | Raccoon

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