An Act of Suppression
(for William Wantling)
Dragging a sorry-ass body to the studio
riddled with pain
I see there up ahead a Yellow Tiger-Swallowtail
flopping around on the pavement
like something convulsing
or someone improvising
or a body working through a choreography.
I know this isn’t normal
I am intimate with this poet-butterfly – it has made me aware
as I bend down and unfold the massive flopping wings
I see there the Bald-faced Hornet
beautiful and black terrible and white
clutching the body with its
desperate and powerful and elegant embrace
locked in the same brutal struggle,
And I know this
don’t do it
who knows which animal is more rare?
who knows what is beauty really and what is life
and what is death?
but I can’t help it
I am exhausted and riddled with pain
I pry them apart
and feel better
watching them fly off
in opposed direction.
The gaggle of kids burst out the door
and flush the hummingbird from the feeder smack into the glass.
I lift the small bird from its awkward contortion on the concrete stoop
into the palm of my hand
and breath again because it lived.
I smooth the feathers.
The little bird straightens out
blinks its tiny eyes and struggles a bit to breath.
I dribble some sugar water in my palm since I had read somewhere
that it is possible to starve again in flight.
And I wait there with it
this bird this poet this perfect work of art
whispering and humming because it makes me feel fine.
Until suddenly, miraculously it bursts from my palm!
Ohhh… look at that! sweetheart look at that! It’s fine it’s fine!
The kids gather together close the little girl squeals
up there the bird the bird look!
settling in the cedar
fluttering its wings
and then off! into the Honey Suckle to feed.
She will always be powerful.
Small girl with these runes
tattooed up and down her arms her legs.
Life’s flame humming
iridescent purple gorget feathers
around that being.
See here she hovers
over the mirror-shine of Cloud Lake’s gloaming
delicate composite of delight
While we all suspect she has departed
as the storm still traverses that ridge
see there I will always be powerful
small flyer beats back turbulence
dissipates our torment.
These poems are from Henry Stanton’s collection, Pain Rubble, published Holy & Intoxicated Press. Henry Stanton’s fiction, poetry and paintings appear in 2River, The A3 Review, Alien Buddha Press, Analog Submission Press, Avatar, The Baltimore
City Paper, The Baltimore Sun Magazine, Black Petal Press, Cathexis
Northwest Press, Chicago Record, Down in The Dirt, High Shelf Press, Holy &
Intoxicated Press, Kestrel, North of Oxford, Outlaw Poetry, Paper & Ink
Zine, The Paragon Press, PCC Inscape, Pindeldyboz, Ramingo!, Rust Belt
Press, Rusty Truck, Salt & Syntax, SmokeLong Quarterly, Under The Bleachers,
The William and Mary Review, Word Riot, The Write Launch and Yellow Mama,
among other publications. His book of Short Stories, River of Sleep and
Dreams, is due to be published by Alien Buddha Press in 2019. His book of
poems, The Man Who Turned Stuff Off, is being published by Holy &
Intoxicated Press in June 2019.
His poetry was selected for the A3 Review Poetry Prize and was shortlisted
for the Eyewear 9th Fortnight Prize for Poetry. His fiction received an
Honourable Mention acceptance for the Salt & Syntax Fiction Contest and was
selected as a finalist for the Pen 2 Paper Annual Writing Contest.
A selection of Henry Stanton’s paintings, published fiction and poetry can be viewed at the following website. Henry is the Publisher of Uncollected Press and the Founding & Managing Editor of The Raw Art Review. Check out more of Henry’s poetry on Soundcloud.