The Ladybug

It’s hard to drink

the poisons

despite how often

they brim and bubble

at our lips

the world is

designed to turn

our heads sideways

and our ankles


and make us

the moths to every



which is why

I fight so hard

to watch my son

sitting on a branch

fretting around

a ladybug in January

that isn’t

actually there

Compass with a Thousand Needles

The thing about the road

to the future

is that from where we stand

it is as wide as a thousand

Roman avenues

and has as many possible directions

as a compass with a thousand

cardinal points

but when we look back down the road

no matter how long we walked,

no matter where or how

often the bends

and the buckles,

a thousand choices made

left it nothing but needle thin.

Poet’s Note

In many ways, poetry as a whole is about attention. We talk about the ‘eye’ of the poem, the ‘lens’ it presents, the ‘focus’ of the piece. The poet narrows down the world into a set and sequence of images that convey their particular slice of it – the thing that arrested them. Both my poems here consider directly the way in which we define and constrain our attention. In “Compass”, the poem considers how we define ourselves in the timeline of our own lives. We easily feel inconsequential when we consider our own impact on a nebulous future – so much so that we forget that if we consider the path that brought us to our present moment, no other sequence of choices could have created this result. “Ladybug” too considers that we must remind ourselves to look to the small things in the world. They define the moment itself. You can only focus on one thing at a time, and so it really matters where we cast our gaze.