Christopher Bakken

No water but the greened-over pond
a stick I chucked is now disturbing,
this zig-zag where a snake might have surfaced.
No way in, algae thick as jam. No snake.

For an hour I lobbed the hive with stones,
then speared it twice to poke out eyes
till a beard of bees swelled from its cheeks.
I even ran up and spat at it, twice.

If you wanted to know such greatness now
you’d have to take my meanness too. It was vast.

Toad-killing, spider-mangling, sucker-punching
morons like me were easy enough to find
if you needed someone to despise other than
your own drunk father or the Catholic girls.

Run-off from the slaughterhouse would seep
down here where the cows used to graze,
would sour this pit of back-water.

It is hard to drown on purpose in a pond,
Richard Pertzborn said, and he could know.
The bees led me there anyway, intent
on testing nothing of anyone else’s truth.

But I had a spite reserved for me, by me, a bloody
urge that welled behind my eyes, like the rage
that made me slam my torso into walls,
like the courage that drove the bees mad.

Oh, to be open to hurt like that.

So I taunted bee gods. Begged the slime
to take me in: my sick, sick blood,
my body hard as a walnut trunk,
anything in me worthy of mud.