silhouetted profile of a little bird.
a kissing instrument
like a teapot drinking from my sermon.
skin trembling to lead the expedition
over bruised & mystic ink,
earned for the night under balmy heaps of august
when i peeled bare the apple of your fight.

A small word, neighbors, cousins.
bargain sneakers tearing up chemlawn.
dust remote, salt of saturn,
& the pepper smoke of oak leaves thumbing lifts
on school night winds, over the rooftop,
tangling with the tough crooks of Malus ioensis,
where a mean gang of apples don’t yield
that bitter green serum to tender
tooths, neighbors, cousins.

we climb across the autumn’s inky dusk
to scratch ways & means into the bark.
tickling limbs, shaking apples loose for scrawny worms,
and birds,
and eavestrough curates,
and the neglected wheelbarrow
that collects a concentration of modest, battered apples—
seeds pool in the philtrum
before diving down the barrowmouth of winter.
swallowed by a gullet made from, yes, november rain,
digested then with gizzard sticks and stones in winter’s locket.

When the depilatory season soothes at last to sphinctral spring,
we are forbidden from our tree by a bouquet. cider devils,
fermented in the peristaltic barrow, cloak our trunk
with the prohibitive stink
of trickster winter’s
dying chuckle.
In mystique’s parlor briefly
before innocence had yet learned to haunt me.
the map disentailed its percipient.
the trees took their leave.

The skirt of rot would fade, we knew.
while the tenor of offence
taken at sermon’s end
would outlast all perfumes fashioned.

Mistake the Map for Innocence

Timothy Leland Shores