one frog one scorpion

By Keith Burton

A frog staring ahead though blades of grass

i was stretching my legs on the littoral
giving names to the shapes of the clouds
that swam across the lake’s reflection
when trouble came crawling on eight legs.

help me across he asked with a period.

i knew better; i had an owl’s acuity.
no can do, i know you well. well,
i know well what you’d do anyway;
it’s in your nature.

he let out a laugh as his knifetail wagged
when hurting you hurts me, why would i hurt you he asked with a period.

i saw the logic of it.
i swallowed the logic of it.

so there we were, the two of us then.
me holding us afloat, ensuring we continue upright.
him day drinking, absorbing all colors of light.
the denizens on the bank agog —

i’m sorry he said with a question mark.

it came quick and cruel, that hypodermic kiss
a silver tongue wet with cyanide spit
we filled up with drowning as the toxin left me limp.

now we sleep with excalibur on a bed of kelp and myth.

Category: Featured, Poetry