everything alive

for Aaron

with sun sore eyespots        morning

my brother is telling me about the time he killed a raccoon

with two rocks           one geode one petrified

glazed by coffee cracked mouth corners

there’s still cigarette smoke in my hair

considering our stagnant     it drags

my fingers flip a magazine against

marble countertop    drumming page by page

he’s bragging now

about the swiftness of his hand

the quickness of death

my head nodding

no effort no sweat     one-     two-    his pinky twitches

then nothing

from the west window         the sea

not walking distance but close

i squint           perpendicular to shore         a fishing boat

where men are catching

and catching and catching

i am imagining calloused hands       thick nets

iridescent shells gathered by mistake

those ocean-flecked bodies sliding

one over another

a gasping        unsolicited dance

cradled by gentle waves       early tide

he catches me gazing

sneers about attention

bats at the fly on my plate

rabies bastard had it coming            he adjusts his belt

nod     my head aches so i turn

the television on        naturally

not unlike chewing a piece of old gum

my brother is picking his toe with a pocket knife

discount microphone rattles softly

news or advertisements       something just decipherable

we sit without speaking now        framed per usual

fiberglass walls          concrete foundation

a cage of windless protection

my brother is moving his lips like a scavenger

around an ungone cigarette

i am choking halfheartedly

this time admitting

the way we’re both smashing

i remember the day i found that dragonfly

quivering on the river’s surface

wings spread kaleidoscopic                         and wide

sailing downriver with ease

as if it was still flying

Valerie Stull

Valerie Stull eats insects. She climbs mountains and has strange visions during migraines. She's a poet and environmental scientist finishing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she contemplates sustainable agriculture in the age of climate change. Born and raised outside Boulder, Colorado, Valerie feels akin to the mountain dweller, though she currently resides among lakes. Her work has appeared in Spiritus Mundi and a handful of academic journals.