May 24, 2020
Nineteen Gnomic Stanzas

The horse is suddenly vertical.
He almost stepped on a snake.
You are turning fourteen today;
it’s Winter Break.

Whippoorwill or weeping willow:
One is a bird, the other a tree.
Archaeopteryx a-nesting
amid the debris.

Gray fox is the size of a cat.
His movements nobody knows.
Huangbo’s first words to Linji were
“I forgive you thirty blows.”

Three kittens live under that crepe myrtle.
A spider lives in the fronds.
Teacher loves asking questions
that don’t have any response.

The snake’s skin is made out of paper.
Its facets will sparkle and scintillate.
An alliance, the moment it’s formed,
begins to disintegrate.

That tree has a jigsaw barkpattern.
Its fruit is a fluffy ball.
Rooster is big in his own place;
Elsewhere, he stays small.

Elephant is her own shower head.
She has a career to pursue.
The stranger, at least, is impartial,
brings something new.

A bison will savor a dust wallow.
His motto is “Anything goes.”
Have a look at the ants in the closet
eating your clothes.

The sea turtle scrambling seaward
has no time to figure his odds.
The vast majority of human beings
would never have invented gods.

The night sky is full of glitterers.
A centaur fleeing a scorpion.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge knocking
his fellow eater of opium.

Stately is the yellow-headed blackbird.
He stands on a stalk in the sun.
The taller the stack of incentives,
the less gets done.

Each oily black bug on its back
is a baby waiting to be changed.
You and the love of your life
are often estranged.

The Japanese yew is a spiky one.
She’s impatient of any delay.
Six sunshines into July now:
It’s a good day.

Buggy is the Texas night air.
I run out to cut me a switch.
When a devil goes to a funeral,
he lodges with a witch.

Here’s a wintergreen field of sagebrush.
The roots are colorful corals.
Unwillingly we perceive nobody
has any morals.

Owl is a sullen contemplative.
He goes on a four-mile walk.
Three kittens live under that crepe myrtle:
Targets to eagle and hawk.

The iguana is a rocky planet.
He gets his heat from the sun.
The direction of consolation
is how you can tell who won.

The bull is an able attorney.
He can settle your case for a fee.
Archaeopteryx itself
a piece of debris.

Think they’ll ever get it?
Time’s up, and here are your scores.
Carpet-combing human being:
naturally on all fours.

About the Author

ANTHONY MADRID lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. He is the author of I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say (Canarium, 2012) and Try Never (Canarium, 2017). His “children’s book for adults,” called There Was an Old Man with a Springbok, appeared in 2019 from Prelude Books.


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