Timothy Houghton – Three Poems

Timothy Houghton‘s The Internal Distance (Selected Poems 1989-2012) appeared in a bilingual (Italian/English) edition from the Italian press Hebenon/Mimesis Edizioni in 2015. The book was presented in Florence at the Museo Casa di Dante.

He has worked at Yaddo, MacDowell, and Hawthornden Castle. His recent book is Where the Lighthouse Begins (Salmon Poetry, 2020).

He has published in The Galway Review and numerous other journals in the U.K. and Ireland. He is a field trip coordinator for Audubon.


Cicada Killer

Killer says everything
to a boy running for no reason

on slippery gravel—”Go to it!”
he shouted. Tymbals

electrify the air, and the Killer goes looking,
looming like plague, taking her time,

a skilled fighter closing in
—her victim on a twig—to sting it and stun it.

Heavy the prize
she carries away

in slow motion, but she drops down fast
into grass, lugging it into a burrow.

Eggs will burst open
and larvae feed on still-living guts.

The boy doesn’t care about that.
He wants mayhem

and blood in his vision
from the monster exploring

the open garage. My dad yelled “Cicada Killer!”
It walked the window panes,

wings twitching violence, threatening
to break glass. This was at The Old House

where memory has always stopped time.
The face of evil turned from the glass

and stared me down. Arcs of gold
gripped her body like live wires.

She stayed a short spell
in the smell of gasoline, of grass gripping

the housings of mowers—before bursting
into the open.


Small-Scale Reservoir

Talpa, New Mexico

Mallards float above tiny fish
no higher than mud and water
around my arthritic knees
in the pitiful center.
Mallards are happy anywhere.
Dried-up earth
cracked into polygons surrounding the water
hold lark sparrows
pecking at the breaks. Outside
the 20-foot ridge, tin roofs
house Navajo and Tiwa
at the end of dirt driveways. Rarely
they hear rain on metal, a silence nurtured
through many histories.
Two kids smoking weed at the end of the pier
worry about the stupid white guy
holding binoculars…and leave pretty soon.
Drivable trucks and two El Caminos
fortify homes. On the high side,
where heat waves are lensing the eye,
low mountains wobble
on legs below the ground.
Maybe they want to disappear.
Crops are coming along great
in back yards: basil, radish, and kale,
zucchini and apricot. In the unlikely soil,
there’s enough getting done.


Chugging Contest

Doc Watson’s, 1977

Late-night wasps
respect me, acclaim me,
there!—buzzing the high streetlight
outside the door.
Boyle thinks he can beat me.
His jungle of red hair
thinks so too. His rooted fire of beard
—too much I say—
intimidates. I admit to fearing
the artifice of appearance.
We raise our mugs—a tangle of pipes
against the ceiling
brings to my eyes
a split-second calm
as mouth and throat
thrash wildly. Two mugs blast down
bashing the wood table. Meanness
mingles with humor, a measure
of “NO!”
from us both.

 

 

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