“All the time I pray to Buddha I keep on killing mosquitoes."


Issa, I killed 8 gophers this fall, held 
each cold body in my open palm,  

stroking the river colored fur between their silent black eyes 
before dropping them into a plastic bag. 

Their little hands were cupped  
as if in death they cradled one last thing 

because nothing does not continually hold 
all of what remains, or all of what  

has been carried somewhere else.  
The tunnels these creatures dug in my yard,  

destroying even the hardiest plants, 
will soon be used by voles and rats,  

and other gophers,  
from other yards, that will be trapped and killed, by me. 

I met a man who hunts elk.   
He shot a large buck, and when he was beginning to dress it,  

just as he made the first cut with his blade through the buck’s neck,  
this man opened his mouth to yawn.   

The neck of the elk exploded, and the cervical fluid  
burst from its spine,  

infecting the man  
with a parasite that nearly killed him.   

Issa, I cannot absolve myself, 
cannot clear impurities from my body. 

You said, A bath when you’re born,  
a bath when you die, 

how stupid
How extraordinary. 

From Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air (Parlor Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Parlor Press. parlorpress.com. Used by permission.