Pick-a-Poem: “Last Night”

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Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of our weekly Pick-a-Poem feature. Each week, we feature a new poem for you to check out and hopefully discover a whole new poet to read. These poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a great website where you can find a new poem every single day. Today we’re featuring Last Night by Ray Gonzalez.

According to his bio page, Ray Gonzalez has been a prolific writer. He is the author of fifteen books of poetry, three collections of essays, and two collections of short stories. He has also edited twelve anthologies. He has also served as Poetry Editor for The Bloomsbury Review for 35 years, and founded the poetry journal LUNA in 1998. He is currently a professor at The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Last Night by Ray Gonzalez

Last night, the bees came, the tops
of the barrel cactus split open
by the heat, bees darting into the night
to find the place they belonged.
I heard them in the canyon and waited
inside the broken trunk of the cottonwood,
hiding in there to learn how swarms of bees
hum about the future in their sleep,
so sweet desert soil remains and is no
longer the honey that sticks to my lips,
opening the dirt road until I find
the slashed barrels and take a drink.

Last night, the bats followed their flight
out of Carlsbad Caverns to feed on peyote
plants that grow around the entrance,
this well-documented myth broken when
I reached the opening in the earth and saw
the blue lights, headed back to my car
because I approached the wrong cave,
smelled the smoke, bats brushing my head
with the smell of guano that made me
leave without entering the ground.

Last night, a mountain lion wandered into
the town and was trapped in a car wash,
police shooting it, the streets marked with
the claws of the old, my hands slapping walls
and leaving a mark, a distant hum mistaken
for light poles blinking across the city,
the clay jars on my porch brimming with
water where bees hovered until I went into
the great fields of cactus, waving to the river
to follow me without flooding the earth.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! If you want to find more posts like this, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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