Angelo Gives Birth To A Wild Horde of Dragonflies
The sun is so high
it cannot be seen. If there is a breeze, it is breaking
each of the petals from their flowers! Unimportant bugs
tremble behind them, like tumbleweed waltzing
above the earth. In this dream, I am small
enough to fit inside just a single drop of water. Nobody
can see me, but I am so beautiful. I say silly things. I watch grass grow
& say this is the grass! this is the grass
that grows! I watch a child surprise his way into a kaleidoscope
of butterflies. I watch the sky & move toward it
When I wake, I give birth painlessly to a wild horde of dragonflies.
The Dragonflies Pantomime A Child
We miss the lake! We miss the
We have never seen a lake.
collide with each other
until the whole of us is shaped like a child. Hold our hand
& take us, please, to the lake.
Angelo Tries To Convince The Child Again Going To The Lake
Listen to me—I know my achievements
aren't many. Just yesterday, I
hobbled to the market in search of pineapples
but bought only pre-made mango salsa. but I
love you! child, I
love you—I will write poems about your little flights! The child
buzzes angrily at me, waving his arms like a suddenly animate scarecrow.
The lake! The
lake! Child! Child! Light
of my life! There is no lake. Let me comb your hair.
The Lake Remembers A Summer
that I'm lonely, I forget
that I've been made terrifying. Remember the fish
& their fish faces? The politicians & businessmen & war profiteers’ didn't think they were beautiful
enough & hardly anyone disagreed! Is this
a dilemma? I remember saying loudly
This is a dilemma!
until men like Angelo threw their poisons in my water.
Joy! Joy! Joy! The red-eyed rabbits
would nibble beside me. Angelo, what
would it make of you, were you to do something cruel
to a cruel thing?
Angelo Confesses To The The Child
If you prioritize
your body, you prioritize your species. Thus—
prey. Thus—I am forever
folding into my shoulders. They ache & I
ignore them. I ignored the myriad signs. I took
long showers. Ate pink meat. Left lights on. My sins are unspectacular
& plentiful. The child buzzes angrily, until its shadow resembles many things, if those things were
only shadows; if their shadows were made of dragonflies.
I'm trying to say we consumed the lake. We poured into
until the lake was more Human than lake. I used to spend summers
its silky water into perfect circles
with silver stones. Now, there are puddles upon it, brown
as unoxidized pennies. I'm
sorry. I'm the messenger
& I'm shooting
the messenger. Child, believe me! The heartbeats
I'd exchange for things like a willow tree. The people who love me
tell me I worry too much. Child, I worry
for you! I worry if you go to the lake & sip its water,
you will be faithless as a businessman! Can you not just sit
beside me? Eat this fruit before it spoils?
Men like you have thrown their poisons in the water. All we wanted
was to go to the lake
& now—look—would you call that
a lake? It is nearly entirely
in its composition! I hope I stand unseen. The worst
things bathe of man. Angelo! The grief
of it all! With my many-winged hands I could wring
your neck! For
the first time, when he looks at me, Angelo
seems afraid. We take the boy, our
many-winged hands join those of what once was water
& into Angelo's open mouth we begin
to weep. Angelo! we
sob, let us comb
Angelo is Prayed For
Don't call this a drowning. Even the quietest forms of protest can be beautiful, like a poet
learning to read
by candlelight. Beside the poisons, the body
of Angelo rests. The lake
is cleaned, but it dirties again, quickly
appearing & re-appearing in a fresh wound. Something violent happens
somewhere else & Angelo
is forgotten. On this odd rock there are crueler mysteries
than a child
made of dragonflies, & his suddenly bloodied hands. His hands! The child
asks the politicians
& the businessmen & war profiteers—what
does it make of you
when you do something cruel
to a cruel thing?
Bailey Cohen is the author of Self-Portraits as Yurico (Glass Poetry Press, 2020). The associate editor of Frontier Poetry, his work is featured in publications such as Southern Indiana Review, Boulevard, Raleigh Review, [PANK], Boiler Journal, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. Bailey is a student at NYU and can be found across most social media platforms @BaileyC213.