And across the sundial the cruel shadow
Of the condor sails like a black ship.
– Pablo Neruda, Canto General:
Song of the Americas (The Heights of Macchu Picchu)
Douglas County, I accuse you of being as heavy
As an anchor’s chore! I accuse the stonefly’s
Shadow of acting as a proxy for some absurd,
Obsidian banana in the weather’s gossipy
Gossamer. I accuse the origin of the campground’s
Broasted chicken of being obviously obscure.
Do I whisper like thunder to you? Is your
Bilirubin not as bilingual as Deneb? The mountain
Hemlock here speak the languages of fire
And ice, but not as fluently as Canopus does.
Statements read by red stamens on the banks of
Clearwater River are pretty okay for an ecosystem’s
Echo, but I accuse their bliss of sending me electric
Bills for the meteors’ tremors, when all I’ve
Ever been is a monsoon of moonstones. I should
Be seen as the palest river in the darkest fire, but
What should be is the child of hope, and rarely
Is it born in nature. Lewis’s monkey flower,
I accuse you of possessing igneous sensations!
American bistort, I accuse you of breaking
Nature’s breathalyzer, to say nothing of the moss
On a graveyard’s cross. (We never see each other
As we truly are: the sun is jealous of my pseudo-
Compassion, outsourcing its good deeds to a political
Moon. Hopefully, it cools down some.) I accuse
The thermometer’s “80” of taking credit for its errors,
Sincerely as a three-ring circus; of teaching me
How even perfect disappointment disappoints
Compared to perfect. I accuse the last one hundred
Years of watchful waiting; of putting on
A pince-nez and speaking in the Nez Perce language.
I accuse the daylight’s schwa of being uncled
And uncalled for, like really gripping television!
Jake Sheff is a pediatrician in Oregon. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, “A Kiss to Betray the Universe,” is available from White Violet Press.