Jane St. Clair
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Little Leopard Tote

It's my reminder: 
the part I carry outside 
my skin
now that the wilderness is 
supposed to be
tamed out of me
I got stripes they don't see, 
spots beneath my skin 
for no one but me. 
I'm holding this like
a note home from Tarzan's mother
calling me to the boas
and cheetahs
in case I lose my way —
Come on home 
to the dripping forested first
glint that claimed you
before any egg seed
sparked a tadpole shape
into you. 
I live on the streets
clovered into cul-de-sacs
so the gangs
won't take over. 
When I walk 
behind the gates, surveillance
lights follow me
from house to house.
I dodge the fine spray and wet light of new lawns,
I scale the walls
and steal the little flag signs
from Edison and Westec
security companies
and plant them 
on the craters of my own moon
where the jackals and the vanadals
and the homeless howl 
from land so low
it would flood 
if it weren't a desert. 
I hold onto my leopard tote
and wait
under the dry brown lights
for my wings.

Poems published in Boulevard Magazine, vol. 16
University of St. Louis


Cicadas break from the womb of red clay
Jules Verne grubworms
with monster teeth, tractor claws
spike their way straight up the trunks
of shedding pines
dig in their heels
break through the shell
of their own spines
for their wings (ugly things) to breathe

Flight is a muddy thing
they bomb around
telephone poles 
and close to the ground
until late light
fades to plum
and they become the choir
the call and response trance
for twilight
to welcome the dark

They know all about it: 
seventeen years underground
for one summer to sing

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