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And So I Saw...

April 1st, 2020

Poems by Carter Cumbo

Artwork by Maddy Gunderson

A Lazy Pen


Eyes locked to page her

neck craned loose skin playing

with gravity drooping physics 

fancying her spirit trapping

her lethargy in the essence of 

a curious turtle

her pen fastened by thumb

and pointer a delayed line

drawn across the body

leveled by the gradual

axis of her descending ball-

point eager to impress a page in

heat engulfed by glaring

scrutiny a glimmering opal 

spotlight revealing her

voided pupils the pen a  

jealous audience mocked 

by silence drawing out 

time sketched

as distant horizons

awaiting its signal to

blot a bleeding solvent

Into bleached pulp 


The verging buzz

of my atoms’ agitation

vibrating with furious

vigor with friction

movement with

eager combustion, a

promise of power, a 

torrential release, a

trillion neglected

reactors reaching the

eve of my critical mass





like I forgot to 

take the lid off

rolling, over the rim,

escaping, settling like

silt deposits at 

the mouth of my

body language:

fanning legs

and woven arms

strapped tightly across

my chest






From the office

At the complex 

I watch

Her daughter through the window

Curiously engaged an

Innocent fascination

With life


One day, in the parking lot

at the complex

I met her daughter, 

Addressing me with 

The same wonder I

Was wrenched from long ago


A shameless wonder

Of an authentic new


Every day 

The mother pacing

Blundering behind

A daughter’s shameless flight 


An anchor of  

Rusting disillusionment

Sinking like the final descent of her future pine box 

Impatient like ash

That flicks away into disappearance

From the end of her cigarette

I see in her movement

That she is already inside

Back in the apartment

Hunched over the empty

Bowl of her own separation 

Spooning up high sodium 

Hatred to the pursed

Lips of her bewildered expression.



I wonder I stare beyond

My monitor I pretend I’m working while


Watching her in the parking lot

The mother

Haunting the daughter’s illuminated presence

And spontaneity an unencumbered little soul

Following her bouncing around

With greetings for morning commuters

Her 9 to 5 constituency

Nimble feet and bobbing haircut

A true constitutional for a young bee

Buzzing trailing off

Wisping with joy


I wonder I watch through the window

I shift in my seat and pick my nose

And wonder again


If the mother

Had once been

A young bee herself

Buzzing, pollinating innocence

Through the air across another

Parking lot

In another project

Familiar onlookers

Oracles of her tragic

Destiny, everyone aware but her

Naive irradiating light


A light slowly


By the grinding gears of 

EBT and Section 8

By the empty pantry

And beer stained blouses


Under the oppressive smiles

Of jagged men desperate

For her waning innocence

Necks tatted through dirty scruff

The expiration dates 

Remembrances of 

The funerals for

Their deceased light 


I wonder


When the light grew dim in her

To a shrinking shimmer

Waning by the day

Pulsing around her heart  

An electrical charge crackling through a storm

Cloud of her grey demeanor


She must have known 

Clawed to remember 

Through the hardening cement

Of her painful transformation


Herself as a young bee

And in her gestation

Her own little creation

She passed the waning light

Gone from her forever

But left to pulse 

Through another


A sacrifice to an unruly god

The wager of an aching heart


An envoy to one young bee

From the broken remains of another 


And now she follows 

Her little creation

The arbiter of her little shimmer


Across the parking lot

While I steal glances beyond

A tinted pane


The mother 

Living in the promise of her wager

Relieved by the shimmer dancing 

In the young bee


And rusted by the lapping 

A wave of incessant desire

Speaking, urging to

Reach down, tear it from the little creation

Devour its piercing illumination,

Reclaim its fleeting beauty,

In the hopes of her heart’s 



A final summer day

Before it decays into 

Wintry ash disappearing

Into the frigid air 

From her perpetual cigarette

She dangles so loosely 

Pointed towards the pavement 

Following this shimmer of light 

Around a parking lot

Beholding its

Waltz among shadows

Licking reminders of god 

In flurries of a fresh snow

Falling to her opened mouth 

And outstretched tongue


She draws short pulls

Of the cigarette

With long pauses in between


She sighs

The light lives on






a black cat



the cat’s fur, jet blackness

in play with my caress

 a sheen of light

travels downward

like a moonlit lake

in a midnight hour

i marvel as my hand passes

a million strands

 swaying minutiæ

   to a gliding uniformity

its sleek pelt

 guiding my palm

 along the length of nape

traversing the high 

stretch of steeply arched

back quaking to the hum

of a bold purr 


my motion end

     in the steep drop

                    off narrow haunches 

      the black oblivion

           of its mane

deceives me there

must be more 

to this existence 

of breath and bone


again i glide 

over the blackness

to reassure doubt

And validate senses



again, a




so little required

for the animation

for the housing of machinery

the engine 

  that pulls levers and

crank shafts pumping

underneath the 

delusive coat

warming fragile


like a woolen sweater

on an ancient grandpa



there is really not much to a cat

i think that

i say that to my friend 

for him  

 across the linoleum 

floor he grunts with a lazy

acknowledgment and 

wincing indifference 


seven squares of linoleum

between us

like the four rigid

folds of his blank expression

both counting distance 

yet his face tells of a greater



i read him

i feel hot 

flood my cheeks

a gift from a longing association

with unacceptable curiosity


the hot is liquid

it traps in my face 

 but escapes down my throat 

nestling in my diaphragm

it knows to go there

where the sewers

 trap emotional 

runoff from my heart

festering wet 

congealed by years

 a child’s diligent


in believing in

the inherent guilt

of his own happiness



the linoleum reflects

phosphorescence that hangs above

angles into my eye 

the kitchen’s light 

diverting my trance

In favor of its dominant reality


 in the reality

the distance and 

an urge,

convincing me,

If i could squeeze the ribs 

yank the legs 

bite into the triangular skull

of the cat

its wild snarling

and frantic reaction

to pain 

would satisfy my 




Instead, i channel

 the energetic compulsion

 across my tongue

and whisper words of 

inevitable judgment

nothing to mean anything

something to release

the anxiety of impulse

and the twilight

of contemplation

unfit to measure            distances

hiding my fear within dimensions

of a feline’s far-fetched biology



 reaching across the distance

traversing space

pressing my palm into the 

loose billow of his white shirt

 giving into the contour

of his true form,

i would discover

through painful curiosity 

there is really not much to a man 


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