This Goes with That

Which is how they would have us believe
Science works. We start with our fingers,
Then add our toes; we subtract speech,
Multiply in a tube, and divide along an axis.
After Pythagoras, the quadratic equation
Builds a logic that leads to derivatives.
The area under the curve gives us the wing
Of the Piper Cub, the Stealth Bomber, then
The soundless flight of the Mother ship over Arizona.
Or was it, also, a weather balloon? One idea follows
Another and we develop all of this technology ourselves.
I’m making meatloaf for my wife, my own recipe—
Years of trial and error, a touch of jalapeno
And chili sauce, some Italian herbs over the crust. . .
It’s not like I tasted my mother’s and went backwards.
I can still smell the garlic as I entered my grandmother’s
Apartment, the fond oiled onto her roasting pan.
If I’m honest, everything I cook is reverse engineered.
The only way forward is backwards. My brother
Took apart everything he ever had and strange
Contraptions filled our garage. If Icarus had only
Been born after Roswell, he wouldn’t have been lost to wax.
Face it, if you are going to leave things lying around—
Choking hazards for children under three, a few
Flying discs—you’re going to have to come back
Sometime and clean up your mess, disable or destroy
Some warheads, maybe, or perform a small Heimlich.

For the Love of Cows

If I knew anything, my arm
Would be whole; the chicken water
Would not be putrid; my rear
Brakes would not grind. I’d have
Fewer cars, more money, a second
Farm, a back-up tractor that starts.
I would make only enough hay
For the ponies and stop eating beef.
If I could get my cow to fall
Out of love with me, I could stop
Killing her babies. Poor as I am,
Why am I not fifty pounds lighter?
Why do the chickens not leave the coop?
Crumbs of firewood and dirt cover my floor.
Dog shit fans out through the winter on the snow.
I’m counting my assets, eschewing
My liabilities. All my old passions
Have a column of their own. Pottery wheels,
Printing presses, ropes and crampons,
Fill the spare rooms and corners of my house.
And Renee, the cow, lays on her hay in her shed.
She keeps me home to fill her trough.
She keeps me home to bring her hay.
Where do the old loves go? I can fill
Buildings, and they grow mold and fall.
In time my inflamed joints will quell.
In that future, an ascetic life with one
Good outfit and one sweet ceramic bowl
For my one good meal a day.
I’ll leave money in the bank, of course,
In case I really need something.

The Implements in the Copse

Collect the early April snow,
But the fresh-turned garden
Absorbs it the way a mother’s apron
Does a shy child. Something’s

Coming alive down there. Some wave
Wags like a shook towel sending the cold
Back to the sun. I believe in gnomes, the astral
Bodies of birds, but also in mold. I believe

In the stems and feathers that disappear,
In the dark earth, and in the coming
And going of the light. I believe

In any snow that melts the same morning
It falls, and that certain miracles
Always make sense.

C. Mikal Oness is the author of Oracle Bones, winner of the Lewis & Clark Poetry Prize, and Water Becomes Bone (New Issues Press). He lives on a cottage farm in Southeastern Minnesota with his wife, Elizabeth Oness, and various beasts. He is the founding editor of Sutton Hoo Press, a literary fine press ( He is also a potter and a re-emergent alpinist hungrily exploring our diminishing natural world.