Barbara Brooks, Author, Poems, Poet, The Catbird Sang, Hillsborough, Orange County of North Carolina, Finishing Line Press.

Published Poems by Barbara Brooks

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I-85 and CHURTON

I count of the clicks
of aluminum welds
until the cap gives up.
Oaken vapors uncoil.

At 14, I started with rum.
Later, bourbon; the smell,
the currents it formed
when mixed with water over rocks.
One drink would hide me,
not smart enough, not good enough,
not enough.

That last night, drink in one hand,
smoke in the other,
I am sure I was astute,
maybe even witty.
I stumbled home.

I lay naked on the bathroom floor
all that erudition coming up in waves.
Sweat puddles on my skin.

Wild Turkey slides smooth
from the bottle like a cobra
from the tipped basket.

Norfolk-Southern is carrying coal
to feed air conditioners and Las Vegas lights.
The hills, pierced by augers, bleed onto belts,
drip onto trains. Spoil tumbles down the slopes,
oil rainbows paint the stream.

In bull dozed layers, soil bandages the cuts. Replanted
in rye and Scotch pine, smoothed land has no tiny caves
or moss forests. The red eft cannot return. Kudzu
and poison ivy trellis trees, hides the sign declaring
the site reclaimed.

Rain knifes the red clay

I buried your cat today. The black one with white feet that sat
on my porch in the late afternoon sun and stalked the birds from
under the Chinese elm. The one you let roam up and down the busy
street. This morning, I found it cold and stiff as the newspaper
at the end

of the driveway. After work, I went to the barn to see the new
foal, only twelve hours old, his coat melted chocolate and a tiny
white star on his forehead. His legs wobbled as he tried to
walk. It began to rain. He finished nursing, tumbled beneath
his mother's legs to rest,

and I remembered the cat. No one had claimed the damp body. I
dug a shallow grave. The cat was heavy on the end of the shovel.
I covered the body; hoped its death had been quick. I buried
your cat today and I don't even

know who you are.

Poppy seeds freckle
the lemon cake
batter, swirled
into motion
by the beaters.

headlines read
that soon
we will reap
the last
of the earth's

dot the sky
riding the

After the mix
is poured
into loaf pans,
the seeds remain

the vultures
will spiral
to the last
road kill.

I-85 and CHURTON

At the intersection, a Ford van
slices a VW. Restraints deploy,
glass crumbles into green diamonds.
Her head whips like a leaf
in the wind. Sections of her brain
slip past each other, blood seeping
between the layers.

Ice bends the maple; its crown
freezes to the ground and splinters,
a green stick fracture along its trunk.
Gusts blow leaves from remaining
branches, spit snow onto the trunk:
small wet spots.

The storm passes leaving the tree
outlined in white. The wind
rattles the limbs, sending
snow softly to the ground.
Each breath, slower than the last,
until the sheet is as smooth
as the snow's blanket.


The squirrel's brain, small as a walnut.
It must learn to measure the distance
from limb to bird feeder, to steal seed.
After acorns fall, it hides them
under oak leaves, in a bird house.

The crow gathers bright objects,
even quarters, to adorn its nest.
It swarms the sleeping owl,
pecks the hawk until it leaves.
On winter nights, the crow
sleeps in the pines.

Driving 55, I saw it picking
at the squirrel's crushed body.
Crows wait until the last minute
before flying up. But this one defied
death too long. I closed my eyes, it hit
the side of the car. In the rear view mirror,
I saw its wing in the ditch. Tonight,

the cycle will begin again, the possum
scavenging the crow's cold body.

Third Wednesday

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