Click to enlarge picture Michelle Bitting
Michelle Bitting
Californian Poets Part 4: Four Poems
Michelle Bitting



A Poet Embraces the Darkest Hour

I’ll gather my berries and cheese, Ziplock containers to open at work,
aromas unfolded one green stem at a time until the bouquet overwhelms
my hand of spilled beans. Because facades are always a strong point until
pen hits the page. Because a house changes into which a guest has entered.
And I know what sneaks and festers under rock solid fear eventually turns
up mud and maggots. Anyway. When clouds clear and rays are ripe to
spotlight truth, snakes hide under boulders made of gold, casting their
manly shadows. While they smile, take the world for a ride and murder it.
The most important time? Tuesday, kettle to stove, turning the love covers
down as another shit show’s poised to begin. My deal’s already sealed on a
life of wandering, so I make peace as Hades enters each inky ear, vision
maps tattooed in black. I know it’s worth it, my shattering mind, my blown
glass feather. I walk backwards composing lines as lights prance around
new looms, silver scripts I sew by hand trailing each shiny, constellated
seam, prick of dust and a finger slick of blood dropped one cable, one
stitch (silence never protected me) one century at a time.


Crib, trough, sleigh, coffin, shepherds slogging through red dust,
their sandals kicking up a ruddy cataclysm starring palm

trees overhead. This was in Los Angeles where the circle of
players featured a bereft crèche, no babe front and center.

Perhaps they were practicing divination, or holding for the light,
strands of bright hay scrolled for signs around their grime-ringed

toes, random ghost gold tossed—my mind’s brittle grass. I
will play my own savior. No midnight clear for navigating pebbles

underfoot. No foraging threads to nest a head’s waning fruit. I’d
like my heart to rise and walk from its cage now. I’d like the ones

who play it safe to shut the fuck up. Birds and mystery branches
gleam in the final stages of rubedo, just before horizons bend and

my brain unrolls a primitive dementia. My cup runneth with rain,
sweet and simple as forgiveness when melancholia clears. I wonder

about unconditional love, though, if I’m even capable, the grace of
babies left on borders of night and day, who nonetheless say: Come

in from the cold. Here is the book you forced me to read, remember? Here, the
pages sewn in blue to an imaginary womb. Take and eat. Manger—

from Old French mangier. Well, chew on this: in the endless loop of
inns where I come from—Behold, I stand at the door and knock—shouldn’t

there always be room for one more?

My Body, My Choice, My Squirrel

You think that whistling isn’t meant to quicken
your step towards nothingness, your boots
freaky with flower muck, fur, stomped clover
—meanwhile—oblivion glistening honey-like
through highway rumble, cracker law, stony-
whites, the not-so distant quiver
of a hot sliver up your spine? Every day’s a maze
to slam your face to, keeping time, eye to
the end, relishing the race anyway like this cirque
du soleil squirrel half slung from the railing,
her aerial teeth buried in a silo of swinging
seed, sweet helmet feed—yes—she’ll risk death,
the long drop down through pine & needled
mist. Who wouldn’t brave it for the body’s free gravity?
Nose to swaying glut grave she’ll wing it when
the platform snaps and plummets. When wind gusts
and flimsier things grovel, all for the glint of sunflower,
corn, millet minted in mind, gums, rights, she’ll do it,
muscling canyon floor when it rises up to nix her and you,
goddess, keep on gnashing, you stick that damn landing.

There is, at last, the finding of the center...

Flood tide of ill fortune rising, we spend our days skirting the
edge, bent backs gripped in the single seater as we lean in to
keep the cart from tipping. There’s no knowing the speed we’ll
gain, the steepness or drops, how the wheels could fly off any
second like shingles from a roof when the wind whips up. Or
the gradual sheering of tread until one day metal plinks through
matter like coins ripping a watery veil, tossed to the fountain
floor and suddenly a whole family sunk, side-eyed silhouettes
staring up from the mossy bottom, green clouds suctioning our
cheeks’ thin copper. It can feel like a fist smashed down, anvil
cracking shapes in half like the crazed husband at that L.A.
party whose bald knuckles bashed the host into his dead
mother’s beloved dinette, breaking it, convinced he’d fucked his
wife on the sly. True or not, the whole night ruined. The guests
stunned and helpless nibbling their meatballs made tangier by
splintered glass and a ghost mom moaning in the vents. A
severance, reckoning—fate a fulsome judge, farm mistress with
enough biscuits in her apron to satisfy the herd before they ride
off and hogtie the horizon. Eventually hanging for it.
Eventually the whip falling and throne split, smack down the
middle where you need to be strongest, where the songbird
flies from, free, if it’s meant to sing.