The National Poetry Review

David Dodd Lee


It’s interesting or upsetting to know mites live in pores
on our faces they cling to hair follicles you cannot
wash them off they colonize you who keeps talking
studying documents water skiing making love
weeping ah the stain of the factual arriving via cable news
tonight add to that the fact dust mites are crapping on
our pillows it’s science! which is why we write poems
an antidote being the imagination the idea for example
that ice fishing seems as if it’s done indoors when it’s
snowing standing on eight inches of ice the hazy
white walls the echoey acoustics make it feel homey
out in the elements a room of one’s own so to speak
the American Dream somebody’s querencia or safe
place the bedroom you once burrowed into when injured
listening to music crying blowing cigarette smoke out your
cracked-open window having teenage sex maybe not
everyone did that but some people probably only today it’s
just you and your neighbor wearing snowmobile suits
standing beside a pike frozen in the shape of a boomerang
you can’t even see the trees onshore for the snow
you laugh drink schnapps monitor tip-ups your faces home
to hundreds of face mites critters so small the naked eye
can’t detect them wormlike but with legs arachnids
actually spiders who wander onto your skin to mate
at night while you sleep in a room that’s inside a house
that rests on a continent that’s surrounded by oceans
all of it bookended by melting ice caps so think about
that for a while the large and the small and how compared
to the oceans we’re nothing though what if it turns out
your house/property floats on top of a shit-ton of oil especially
if you’re a farmer with acreage who the fuck doesn’t want oil
some might argue need (but let’s not split hairs) for driving
heating the manufacture of necessary plastics add also
getting rich beyond one’s wildest dreams goodbye Baltic
Avenue hello Park Place Oil! which is also adored by face mites
who feast on it whether you’re fishing or doing your taxes
white collar blue collar boys girls men women trans people people
on food stamps artists who’ve won Guggenheims sick people
healthy people vegans all hosts to face mites billionaires . . .

DAVID DODD LEE is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Animalities(Four Way Books, 2014) and Orphan, Indiana (University of Akron Press, 2010), as well as a forthcoming book of collages, erasure poems, and original poems, entitled Unlucky Animals. His poems most recently have appeared in Guesthouse, Copper Nickel, Triquarterly, Thrush, and in Salamander. In 2020, his short story, “Hawks,” was selected for inclusion in the annual Best Short Fictions anthology, published by Sonder Press. He writes and makes visual art and kayaks in Northern Indiana, where he lives on the St. Joseph River. He is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University South Bend, where he is also Editor-in-Chief of 42 Miles Press, which will soon be publishing the literary magazine The Glacier.

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