From Vol. 9: “Creature and the Once-a-Year-House,” a poem by Michael Sikkema

9 shotgun barrels are wrapped

around a beech tree, hunting

party nowhere

in site, one truck

engine still running, almost

out of gas

7 deer walk backwards

out of pines as

their seams split to mist

Creature figures tiny

wolves inside their head leak

black milk, sniffs

out blood on a salt lick

Coming home after

drinks, scar crawling

across his cheek

Sheriff finds all his

game cams in

the mailbox

covered in blood

A week later

he finds his

truck windshield smashed

cab full of skull-sized rocks

while drunk in the little

cove kayakers interupt

a crane and goose

disagreement that

rises across the lake

Creature light lands on

water miles away

all that eyeball

doubles back

The once-a-year-house

is in me, Creature thinks

in sleep

walls breathe

doors appear

and when you

crane towards

eyeshine, they turn

to stairs, footprints floor

to wall then nothing, no one’s

been here for years, a flash

and a garden then just graves

tools to tend them, step

into the outside, black sun

white sky, bats wheel

and dive, blink and

it’s a normal room

the wallpaper suggests

a nursery

f r O g  O r  f  r  O   g 

O r f r O g  O r

f  r  O   g   Or f r O g  O r

‘’’just a parasite

with a pair of tits,’

Satch would say until the day

The Blank One

opened his face

with a splitting maul,’” Creature

awake now

hears Small Figure whisper

near backwards shadows of

the once-a-year-house

so retreats, swings

by the bear ranch to flirt

with the matriarch. Night is

safer depending on

the TV schedule

so later Creature stares at

the campers asleep

in their mesh tent

makes engine noises

tenderizing

Value and garbage ooze

out of every made thing

Creature fashions

a hatchet out

of an accountant’s scapula

terrorizes a new trailhead

for all the obvious reasons

then gnaws on

a deer carcass tucked under

peat moss for six days

where Creature is

an interstellar polliwog

given to fits

of compassion for tiny

spiders, airplane lights

and a single shaggy

mane mushroom in

the throat of the trail

Sun melts into lake

Then on M-66 the sheriff jams

the brakes, his car goes

into a slide in the gravel

in the story

to the towtruck driver

and everyone else, Creature

was a goddam black bear

must’ve been 3

hundred pounds

Sunday changes tense

same as any. Campgrounds

empty, temps in

the 40s at night, from

the window, Creature

watches the sheriff

watch TV

a fifth of Evan Williams

a sawed off across his lap

Creature lets out

a sustained shriek

sprints to the tree line, arms

outstretched, flapping

dragon wings. No shots fired

O r f r O g  O r

f r O g  O r

Three nights later

house appears

as sun

sets into it. Creature hears

voices body back into

loops, double edged

moon, corn field, corn

field, soy. Shadows move

unattached to light, a sturdy

click when memory

fits into

time, then figures

rush past windows

Small Figure says

“I get all full

of bees w/ no

one to rub on”

then heavy footsteps

screams, glass breaks

Creature stares at the front

door, voices

spill out the back

contort in willow

branches, reenter

crying, wood splinters

Tall Figure (eyes all white)

walks to the shed

then back to the house

with an axe

Creature never stayed

for the rest before

but this time

a not-human voice, a crash

too many voices and Tall

Figure collapses out

the front door

Another Figure runs out

at full speed leaving a

heavy blood trail behind

disappears into the trees

f  r  O   g   Or f r O g  O r

When the rescue crew shows up

no cat in east window

front door yawns

kitchen chair on

lawn with scattered glass

and inside, a fried

food contest on TV

the sheriff impaled on

deer antlers

the fridge tipped onto

its back, Creature sits inside

foraging

Michael Sikkema is the author of books, chapbooks, and multiple collaborations all knowable through search engines. He hopes you ask your library to add them to their collection. His current dream is to collaborate with an illustrator on a graphic novel project. He enjoys correspondence at Michael.sikkema@gmail.com.

Image: alumni.berkeley.edu

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