The only thing here in the traps was a very crisp frog. There’s a bit of a breeze. Only some of the grass has grown, only some of it needs to be mowed. The rest is fried—if it isn’t dead it might not grow again this year. So there’s one upside to the heat, to the lack of rain: less mowing. If I can stick out the balm, I can spend my time here the next two days doing more of this, and maybe a little reading.
Water, water, water in my cup. Sunscreen for my neck. Grasshoppers abound. I am going to have to put on the pair of pants I brought because I need to do some weed eating. What rain falls rolls off the roof, to the edges along the house, and grass and weeds there have grown well, right along the foundation.
Weed eater: is the carb too rich? It runs hot/excessive at half-choke, idling, spinning on idle. Then lacks power while throttling at no choke—gets boggy, lethargic.
Two spots of poison ivy: up on the rock toward the stove; then again down by the spring house. Spray.
Technically, daddy long legs aka harvestmen are not spiders
should I just let
run down my cheek
if it’s there to cool me
and I could use the cooling?
grasshoppers large & small
one with butterfly wings
flaps its hidden colors
before landing on a wall
daubers still in search of
nesting sites; they were
just born, less than one
year old but the future
of the species rides on their
ability to do precisely what
their parents did for them:
mate, make a nest, stock
it with the bodies of
Walking out the open front door
a commotion down and to the left
taking wing what looked like baby
ducks but were young turkeys
a rafter scattered, some
by land, some by air
But why is a group of turkeys
called a rafter?
Because if you startle a group of
turkeys they’ll fly to scatter
but get only so high as
a first-floor rafter
And the lespedeza turned to dust
and the daubers made their nests in rust
and I looked hard at the sky and cussed
news from home by text:
squashed our squash
what’s in it for them?
I don’t get it
the plant dies
they live there?
the plant is dead
what use is it to them
H: turn clockwise until head is spinning as fast as possible;
then back the screw out until speed falls; then
turn clockwise again until engine just starts to pick
LA screw (idle): turn clockwise until engine will run when
throttle is not engaged (preliminary adjustment)
L: with engine idling, turn L clockwise until engine speed
just starts to increase, then back off slowly until
the speed just starts to decrease
LA final: turn LA clockwise until the head just starts to
spin, then slowly back it off; the point at which
the head stops spinning is optimal
July 5. Cicada hour. Their voices fill the warm summer’s morning air. Lo, the sound of a box fan, too. Kept me a bit cooler in the muggy house last night. Or it made me think I was cool, or could be again, not so far from now, tomorrow, when I will leave this old farmhouse and return to the land of the air-conditioned.
I did not sleep well. Tossing and turning. Small flying bugs landing on me intermittently. Not even house flies, which bugged me here last summer, when the cattle were not in the pasture. The cattle, being in the field again, must give the flies the only host they could need, so I get left alone, by them at least.
I don’t know what these small yellow-green bugs are called. I want to call them aphids. And maybe they are, but probably not.
Not lace bugs but there are lace bugs here now, too.
The wasp that just came low through kitchen was a different kind of wasp. It looked a lot like the rusty paper wasp, polistes carolina. The rusty paper wasps were active here in the spring, picking out nest sites of their own. They stung me in early June, after I killed scores of them in April and May. This time of year, though, the paper wasps go quiet; they must be nurturing the larvae at the net. Which is why I’ve seen only one near the house. Though I was landed upon by one rusty paper wasp in the barn, while two others swirled around me as I was putting the mower away, swinging one of my blue Helm Whole Foods rags to stave off the attempted hit. I guess they have a nest in there somewhere, a concerning development.
Where was I? A wasp that flew through here that looked a lot like the rusty paper wasp was in fact the so-called rusty spider wasp, which I realize now looking through the MDC field guide looks a hell of a lot like polistes carolina. But it’s a different wasp. This rusty spider wasp hunts for wolf spiders, which are plentiful here in this kitchen. Its line of flight low and straight through the main channel of the kitchen was unusual and unmistakable. I’ve probably killed some of these rusty spider wasps in the grass thinking they were paper wasps. Alas, alackaday, amor.
Maybe the bugs that landed on me are planthoppers? Maybe a mayfly? Maybe a midge. They’re not aphids. More likely one of the hoppers. Leafhoppers. I’m going through the field guide on my phone, entry by entry. They’re leafhoppers. They look like tiny cicadas.
I am under the
meaty fist of the heat
thankful for a warm breeze
the trees outside enjoying it
more and more than me
There was a frog
in the kitchen
rattling around behind
the cupboard, eating all
of last night’s fallen bugs
leafhoppers by the dozen
local, fresh, and free
I want to check my phone
and I want to check my phone.
While on my phone I wonder:
where the hell did I put my goddam phone?
Into my inbox comes a rejection from [unnamed literary journal]. Five of what I think (thought?) are/were my best poems. Ouch. Reeling. I should be getting used to this by now but damn it still stings a little every time.
I step out the front door of cabin farmhouse and a grasshopper slaps me in the face in one of its launches aloft. I look at it on the ground, its wings now hidden. Come here, I beckon, but it stares back like a stone.
It’s either an admirable or a differential grasshopper. Or. A carolina grasshopper. Yes. I’m going through the MDC field guide again. The dark blue wings shown in the field guide pictures for the carolina grasshoppers are a perfect match for what I’ve seen flying and pinging around on the stoop. The field guide describes them as being reminiscent of a mourning cloak butterfly. I know those butterflies, and the wings hidden beneath the legs of the carolina grasshoppers are a pretty good facsimile.
It’s a hot one, Mr Grinch.
A few clouds, a strong breeze
Collared lizard doing something
by the door
Coffee maker drying, sterilizing
in the sun
along with the mousetraps
and the flip-flops
and the filter of the hand-held vac
I’ll not leave baited traps
behind in the empty house
That dead-crisp frog can’t
happen again, not by my hand
When the frogs are in the kitchen
I’ll set traps only for nights I’m here
Three recluses in Doug’s chair. I had a feeling. I thought I might try to sleep in it. It’s one of those so-called “Zero Gravity” chairs. A camp chair recliner. He left it here one time after a Farm party and it’s become a staple.
I brought it out onto the stoop, being all cautious. Opened it up and those spiders started to skitter, not leaving the chair. I quickly shut it, left it on the ground. Did a quick walk, pace, circle, wtf. I didn’t want them on the chair; didn’t want them on the stoop either. Couldn’t kill three at once. I had vacuumed some up in the house, but one at a time. I was a little stumped.
I picked the chair up and went into the cut grass. Opened the chair up, and tossed it away all in one awkward motion. The spiders fled, into the grass, the same grass I was standing in barefoot. Oh, who cares, what difference does it make. They’re no more a threat to me out there than when I’m trying to sleep, prone and languid on a bed in the teeming house.
As the heat persists
I stay inside, drink
iced coffee and try
to make sense of the
poems of Merwin
A dauber’s nest of mud
open on one end for now
constructed on the backside
of the hanging head of a broom
in the two weeks since
last I was here. The
dried mud a nursery for
next May’s hatched young,
who will make their own tubes
a year from now, lay a seed
inside then demise like
so many others on the back
The color green
vacuumed from the earth
by just one month of
excessively dry heat
lush, soft, grass turned
into sere straw, without
even being cut
But the spring flows
with surprising breadth & pace
that its origins
run not from here but
I’ve heard it said
In this heat, the birds
go quiet. Even the wind
goes listless, in the trees
The flies are in here now
it’s going to be that kind of a night
Blue and black-and-red daubers fly
in and out of the kitchen, sometimes
pinging me, what am I? A place
to land, a large plant with flowers
the shape and color of sweaty nipples.
I’d like to know I was being read,
I’d like to feel some legitimacy.
I want to feel relevant because
why else, what else am I doing here?
What does it all come down to? Should
I just give thanks for what I’ve got,
take comfort knowing I have no
need beside one born of ego to
be recognized, to be applauded?
Should I just be happy I have a
cooler full of cold beer and
passable white wine?
No, not quite. That doesn’t
really make me happy. I test
that theory out almost every day
and the result returns the same.
Change of plans.
I can’t be here tonight.
I have been evicted by heat.
This place is alien to me again.
What’s the point of anything
if you can’t hold onto it
for just a little while longer?