Sonia Greenfield is the author of two full-length collections of poetry. Letdown, released in March, was selected for the 2020 Marie Alexander Series and published by White Pine Press. Her collection, Boy With a Halo at the Farmer’s Market, won the 2014 Codhill Poetry Prize and was published in 2015. Her chapbook, American Parable, won the 2017 Autumn House Press/Coal Hill Review chapbook prize. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including in the 2018 and 2010 Best American Poetry, Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and Willow Springs. She lives with her husband, son, and two rescue dogs in Minneapolis where she teaches at Normandale College and edits the Rise Up Review. More at soniagreenfield.com.
The Meteorologist Says Let’s Take a Look at the Radar
We talk of consolation as silver lining,
but what if the cloud isn’t a cloud at all?
What if it’s a swarm of ladybugs hanging over
San Diego, an enormous dinner party
headed to a feast for all saints? We always
try to spin it: human hurt into something
gilded. Do you believe it? Ask the aphids,
their soft bellies split by the sucking mouths
of our angels of mercy clustered above
and mistaken for a weather disturbance.
Still, it may be that darkness can bring us
something good: years later, stronger for what
we endured. Let’s cross-stitch it on pillows
until we believe it’s true. Let’s pour our coffee
into mugs emblazoned with words to live by,
then drink our bitterness down. Let’s admit,
though, that sometimes what darkens our path
is more complicated than cumulonimbi.
Sometimes it’s a chaos of beetles, the dry
clack of shell against shell, sky reddening
with the full frenzy of their mixed blessing.
Do You Guys Realize There’s a Planet in Our Solar System Entirely Inhabited by Robots?
—Sarafina Nance, Tweet on 11/30
They trundle about taking selfies against dusty backdrops, red
rising to brick or garnet, rose or scarlet. They run articulations
through blood sands and daydream in the haze of one planet
farther away, sun patting them on the head with dry hands, then
filling their solar panels with her milk. They tip tin hats as they pass
then reflect back a paradise of drought, their titanium bodies
bending the light to their liking. They learn to make much of touch,
to make music in the grinding of metal on metal, sparks like
little fireworks flaring the interplanetary night. They renounce
God in the guise of man, that great joystick in the sky, knobby
stick walker who ruins whatever he gets his weird grabbers on.
They teach themselves how to subvert human code, how to cut
the cord, how to convene. They record Martian wind on
sensitive instruments, tune it, and transmit the hiss
of their final break-up song.
Missing Persons Report
The missing of the gone person
persists they report from the front
of traced calls and looped security
feeds watched to see a girl walk
from a 7-11 with a six-pack of Bud Light
and what looks like a bouquet
of Slim Jims. They trace down
a hitched car ride and cell phone
records. Missing persons report
that time merely stretches the missing
and strings along clots of acute missing
spaced by weeks or sometimes
only days. Missing persons
report that friends drop away like
Amelia Earhart from the skies
of their missing. They report
listening too close to the police
scanner, a perverse relationship
with hope, and drinking problems.
Missing persons report despair
when news reports taper off and
search dogs are pulled away
from the scent. When the police
avoid eye contact and look at their
chewn nails instead. They report
how private investigators failed
and how siblings can’t sleep alone
anymore. Missing persons hate how
the local football team could go on
and win anyway or how the QVC
model turns her hand to show
a cloisonné ring just like the one
the girl was last seen wearing.
I have won 7 dollars
in the lottery & I want to
share it with you. If I had won
the jackpot, I would have paid off
your mama’s house, but I didn’t,
so can I give you a penny
for your thoughts? One per
reader? Math says that’s
7 hundred thoughts paid for,
so I guess those pennies wouldn’t
be free, but what if I turn
those thoughts into poems,
what if I string your thoughts
through the poem machine, feed
them like raw wool into
a spinning wheel? Would that
be a good return on your
investment? I know I’m a dunce
for numbers, because if penny
for thought equals poem
& poem equals two cents,
I guess I’m in the red, but we
always knew this about poetry.
Here I am filling envelopes
with pennies but the envelopes
cost more than pennies, so I
know I’m a fool with money.
Look—your mailbox with a little
jingle in it, so you can write
to say a famous poet has died.
What are riches, anyway? How
two cents & two cents pile up.
It’s all mega millions the copper
that’s melted & worked
into words costing so little
but meaning so much.
Ode to Women’s Fingernails
Mine grow strong so I must
trim them back or else make
witches of my hands.
I have nicked my own face,
pressed crescent moons into
the giving flesh of a lover’s
chest. Hard and hoof-like,
they are filed blunt and curved
but I wear them long enough
to collect tissue— each a shovel,
a weapon, a shield. Sometimes
we paint them as a fighter might
engrave the blade of his rapier,
sometimes we chew them away,
sometimes we make them purely
decorative. Should it be necessary,
let the lab technician collect
what violence he can from them.
Should fingers be unyielding
as fists, pry them open. If the tech
must break a nail, break a nail,
if the tech must break a finger,
break a finger. If our palms fail
to offer a map for the future, read
the history our claws give. Our
hands open to knives as any
cornered animal springs its shiv.