FOUR POEMS by Rosalie Moffett

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A jet drags its noise 
   across my side of town, trawling 
for something. Its shadow,
   a small black insect, crawls 
across house after house. Up and up, over 
   and over, a lithe little dark thought. I, too 
have had a weeviling-through, my sunny 
   sensibility bedeviled by a pest. Up there, sky-high, 
do you, as you go, know the feeling
   you slough? Here, when you heft a sack 
of flour and watch it cough 
   into the air one brown moth,
is your knee-jerk reaction Finally!
    Some honesty! A thought can worm 
and worm its own tangle of unseen tunnel 
    in the mind for years before things begin
to collapse. Before a word is allowed 
   out, flapping towards a lamp. Those dummies, 
given the rotten meat up-teeming
   with maggots, assumed spontaneous generation. 
Now we know: flies. Humming thing aloft
   in the air. Something descending
to seed a swarm of drear: what
   even is the point or so what or what 
have you: ruinous little voice-over. I drown
   it out however I can. Once, I resorted 
to a colander, accidentally fluffed
   up a cloud as I sifted mealworms
from flour. Are you, like me, uneasy  
   with ruin? Do you feel a pity for the blue
your jet plane rakes through, or for me,
   whose single-edition sky is getting striped 
with white scrapes? Listen, I need to stop
   making up gods to talk to
who can’t hear me. Sorry for conjuring you  
 too aloof, earmuffed and far— 
   I don’t know how else to be 
authentic to my experience. Forgive 
   me my mind’s circumscribed  
design of you, made quick in the shadow 
   of a small, harmless darkness. Sometimes
one bleak thought breeds in the mind. 
   No one actually knows, I was shocked
to learn, why moths spiral 
   towards artificial light—perhaps
they are making 
    the same mistake as me, desiring
just one moment to speak with
    what ruins them.



         For Jessica Farquhar

If you’re ever in trouble,
   find a mother, said Jessica
to her child, refreshing   
   my predilection for animal videos
where one is raising another’s young,
   e.g. the cat with kittens 
plus a duckling & the voice 
   behind the camera announcing 
in wonder: it arrived right as she gave birth, like, 
   get the timing right, a mother 
will mother anything. Like, 
   flip the floodlight & everything 
lit up is up for nurturing. Thousands of videos
   like this, I swear, exist, inadvertently or deliberately
buttressing her advice in a world
   where it’s unwise
to find a policeman or CEO or comedian
   or president. America’s 
fertility rate is down, the daunt
   of saving enough to stave off 
progeny-debt is enough 
   to stall even the reckless. 
I’ve a dim view, but it’s true 
   my brain’s been re-routing frustration 
and bungling through a process 
   that, magic-8-ball-like, produces 
the solution: have a baby. Little wailing 
   thing. When feeling low, I scroll 
through online lists of expenses 
   for the first year of life. It never fails
to make everything worse. 
   Once, I read an article
about a woman who joined
   a search party searching for her. For hours, 
she looked for herself. 
   I am supposed to be finding a mother. 
I’m staring at the blank in my bank balance. 
   God knows the best prayers 
one can say in America are to the patron saints
   of student debt, of Ca$h for Gold,  
of the lowest of the low
   deductibles. Oh, God knows 
I know the last thing
   the world needs is more
people, it’s so full up with policemen, 
   gun nuts, florists, pundits, artists,
landfills, Jessica, kneeling
   face-level with her son, Jessicas
ready to kneel face-level 
   with anyone’s son. 



In the bank account, it is
   unseasonably mild. The businessmen
who live there rarely break 
   a sweat, whereas it is, elsewhere, 
unseasonably disastrous. Wildfire. 
   Flooding. Diseases unreasonably 
rising up, little ghosties, from
   the permafrost melt. It is everything 
anyone talks about, though the seasoned
   businessmen never go anywhere
near the copier, the water-cooler, the arenas 
   of anyone. Meticulous, they maintain
their distance and their coin
   -colored comb overs coiffed into hieroglyphs
of I’ll be dead before any of this 
   shit hits the fan. By many accounts, an account
is a story, and thus money is a moral
   available solely to an upper crust mostly 
into fan fiction: Goodnight moon. Goodnight 
   congressman. Sayonara taxes, 
icecaps, crocuses. The bank account can be 
   summoned by the right spell of two
point authentication—presto: see the men
   gazing through the boardroom 
window at the view, which is the mountainous
   horizon, which is a jagged line graph. 
X-axis: months. Y-axis: the accrual 
   of funds. In the bank account, 
there’s a potted plastic palm whose leaves
   shift in the manner of blades catching light
in a knife-fight. The businessmen take
   solace in the view, they take
turns watering the palm, they take money 
  and turn back to the window. They keep
the money. They keep watering. Water outside keeps 
   rising. Inside there’s a weird black spot
developing on the carpet. They were told it was there
   to give them a sense of the exterior world. 
They were informed that it was, for their safety
   decorative. This was about the palm
whose faux trunk pokes down into styrofoam. 
   But in the bank account, they don’t listen, which is
corporate policy, which is for their safety
   and to maintain their equilibrium in case    
a message weasels in from the gate
   intercom re: some faulty product, some leaky
lifeboat in the polar ice cap
   melt. Despite that, and also though
they were sure they’d made, as young men,
   strict provisions against such an act, 
they were beguiled 
   by the idea that they might
nurture one quiet thing. They keep
   watering. The mold loves the moisture, the micro-
fiber playground, it throws its personal confetti
   of deadly spores. Even now, it advances 
over the carpet, army-crawling 
   towards the loafers with the slit at the toe
where, tucked, is a hundred dollar bill. Suppose
   this is a fable. Moreover, suppose there is a moral 
to be made from the world 
   anyone can imagine, a lesson, a hinge
between it and the inside
   of the mind. Suppose you entertain 
this idea for your own comfort
   in the manner of tending
to the kind of plant that, turns
   out, grows more and more 
suspect the longer 
   it neither blooms nor fruits.



Logging in to check the pie graph 

   of one’s 401K: boring miserly pastime
of the 21st century. No lovely clunk 
   of a gold doubloon, just Scrooge 
and his TIAA CREFF password. 
   Just Scrooge McDuck and his new bird-body. 
My first time in Georgia it was August
   & I was aghast at the snow 
floating in the blue sky. (Hide your eyes,
   McDuck, each time we find ourselves
driving in the wake of a chicken truck.)
   Point is, most miracles 
can be pinned on other people 
   amassing money in offshore accounts. 
Once, I saw rocks light up on the bank
   as the surf crashed in: true phenomenon 
of phosphorescent plankton. Once, the power 
   went out in a packed stadium,
and the ring of stands fired up with that exact
   blue-white plankton-light from flipped
open flip phones. From above, there must’ve been
   one shining eye in the pitch black
of the rest of Dakar. The pie graph 
   is a joke: it shows only what you have now
as if that’s enough to illuminate enough 
   of a patch of the quiet dark
of the future. Ah, Scrooge, I know
   the balm of a tall stack of coins. I, like you,
have a nest of fear. I like you best
   as a bird. I read how domestic ducks
neglect their eggs, which must be
   electrically incubated. Warm bulb which nursed
current from the wall-socket to make you 
   take form, made you take all the currency & hold it
to the light to see if it could be changed
   from coin to mirror, from mirror to periscope
to peer into the unknown. Ah, Scrooge, it feels 
   like it works, doesn’t it? You were the first 
duck to dip your spatz into an olympic pool 
   of money—even as you dove, even as the children 
rubbed, in disbelief, their fists across the dollar signs 
   in their eyes, someone watched 
the scales shift, felt the digits of the budget 
   loosen their chokehold.