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Simmons B. Buntin



Our house is full of ladybugs. My daughter has released the whole lot, the profit
of an afternoon’s unwavering work: busy opals in red and black, black and

gray, caught beneath palo verde shade and poppy sheath. In the insect box
she lays silver leaves of guava, gentle shoots of yellow sage. As she

gathers them one by one, cradled in the warm chalice of her hand,
I read Irish poetry and observe the garden: the bluebells are

fading, their indigo petals turn to glass and stain the desert
floor. The agave sends a single martyred spike to the sky.

Back on earth, she gathers more and more. The bug
house is filling, buzzing like a midsummer hive.

In my book: spring snow in Dublin and scarves
of silver and green. In our garden: she is

absolutely floating—forty! Glowing
like a Chinese lantern, like the

sudden hillside of Indian paint-
brush, she races inside, opens

the box, and showers
the room with

pure red




At the wilder edge of our street,
           across the street, a car:
                      abandoned, windows down

or gone completely. Every day I watch
           its devolution: how the silent
                      tendrils of lantana seduce the open

rims and exhausted vents,
           how a taillight-pink penstemon
                      tumbles through the checkered trellis

of the trunk as a curved-billed
           thrasher steals the dashboard
                      wires for its crazy backseat nest.

Finally, neighbor Tom has had enough
           and calls the salvage yard, where
                      a pulsing crowd of well-wishers—

red-headed flickers, blue buntings,
           white evening primrose—yawps wildly
                      as the parade’s latest entry glides on by.



Great American Chicken

I have seen more presentable birds—
the mallard with its teal-streaked
wing, or the indigo flash
of bunting. But this courting,
this long-grass dance with bellowed coo
and craning head and I think it was fire
on its chambered breast.
Who knows how long that passion
can light up the prairie sky?

                     Originally appeared in the author's book, Riverfall.




Abrajo: whose pads
                     like daggers
shine & ignite
                     a holy procession—
the roofless church
                     of the desert
& the bleeding hills
                     that swallow the red
eye of the sun.
                     Some prefer:
de coyote
, the candle—
                     the white grin
of the moon—
                     convinced (or else
drunk) it
is the sharpest tongue
                     between the dark teeth
of the dawn.
                     The night, un-
flattered, washes
                     the world
to its bluest corners.
Opuntia: prickly
pear, punctures
                     the solid face of heaven,
where stars ascend
                     like silver moths,
like the glowing
                     souls of children.


Simmons B. Buntin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments. With Ken Pirie, he is the author of the new book Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places (Planetizen Press, 2013). His books of poetry are Riverfall (2005) and Bloom (2010), both published by Ireland's Salmon Poetry. Recent work has appeared in North American Review, ISLE, Versal, Orion, Hawk & Handsaw, High Desert Journal, and Kyoto Journal. Catch up with him at www.SimmonsBuntin.com.
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