DECONSCRIPTION-Writings of Curtis Cottrell

2000s Poems

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Bug Out


Last week I found a wasp in my bathroom.

I was brushing my teeth, and as

I looked into the mirror,

I saw her hovering overhead.

I ducked down and headed out the door

Slamming and securing it behind me.


How could I get rid of her? If I went in there

With a rolled-up newspaper for hand-to-wing combat,

I would need to make a decisive first strike

Or risk the possibility of getting stung.

Or, worst of all, make a total fool of myself

By breaking the light fixture,

By knocking the clock or a bottle into the toilet, or

By dislodging the single nail holding up my shaving mirror.


I could spray Black Flag Hot Shot poison

Or fumigate the room with a burning bag,

But the window is sealed shut with black plastic,

So how could I ventilate it

To keep from choking myself?

And there is no guarantee that those toxins

Would drive her out or make her panic--

They could only back her into a corner.


Think like the bug! What will attract her?

How can she find the way out?

She just keeps hovering around the light.

The light! That's got to be it.

All I have to do is turn out the light;

Then she can find the grate under the tub

Where she came in from under the house.

If the grate is the only source of light,

She will be drawn to it and find her way out.


I braced myself as I made my plan:

I had to open the door,

Then stoop down to close it,

Turn around as quick as I could,

Reach up to pull the chain

To turn out the light over the sink,

Then blaze like the living daylight

To get the dickens out of Dodge!


I operated just as planned

And everything went smoothly

With the wasp retreating to a corner

To watch me execute my maneuver.

Then I waited for about an hour

Until nature's call became imperative

And as I apprehensively opened the door

To gain access to the toilet,

I saw that she was finally gone.


The wasp has her fated place,

But it is on the outside.

I am glad I did not kill her

Or make a fool of myself in the attempt.

Now I can watch her out my back screen door

Pollinating the Heavenly Blue morning glory vines

Climbing to refoliate the rotting hackberry tree

That died in last year's drought.


She was no mad hell-bent assassin

Angrily assaulting and attacking.

Only a lost wandering nomad

Trying to find her way back home.

All I had to do to restore

Peace was learn to think like the bug.


A few days later,

Another wasp flew into my living room.

When it landed on the telephone,

I smacked it with a rolled-up newspaper.


It's funny how standards change

With a first strike capability.




When Plato's dog died,

He wrote this little poem

As an epitaph,

"You were once my morning star

Now Hesperus leads the shades."


The porch is Stella's

Equalizer making her

As tall as a man.

When strangers walk by our house,

She barks with tail bristling high.


People often ask

"What kid of dog is Stella?"

"That's a lyin' dog."

"What's a lion dog?"  "If I

Said I knew, I'd be lyin'!"


Stella has a strong

Sense of duty even though

She may wander off

And she's too old and lazy

To get on up when she barks.


Stella's ten years old;

I am almost fifty-three:

Will I be the first?

She has already survived;

Can I take another loss.


Sometimes I think that

Stella is a little girl

Wearing a fur coat.

She wants to come out of it;

She just can't find the zipper.


I hear Stella's voice

Talking to me from within:

Just eye contact says

We have a bond between us

That makes me know what she wants.


Male dogs are buddies

Always running off to play.

Stella stays by me;

She's not going anywhere

Without her man at her side.


She hates cheap shampoo:

Some Looney Toons bubblegum

Made her roll in grass

Substituting any scent

For something she cannot stand.


She steps on my foot

To signify impatience:

"What took you so long

To come to the door when I

Have been waiting in the heat?"


She's a drama queen

Getting so histrionic

Whining and moaning

With that telltale tremolo

That tells me her feelings are hurt.


Barking an alarm--

The porch is Miss Stella's stage.

What melodrama,

Her stoic antistrophe:

This star upstages herself.


Stella likes to rub

Against the foot of my bed

While I rub her back

With her nose under covers

To get a whiff of my feet.


Stella likes good cheese

Havarti with herbs and bree

Make her smack her lips.

She appreciates a taste

Of the finer things in life.


Stella does not like

Anything with tomato

Such as spaghetti,

But she'll make an exception

For hot chili con queso.


Stella moves her paw

Over her eye to tell me

To turn off the light.

This can also signify

"Turn off the television."


"Good morning, Stella!"

Echolalia:  her yawn

Mimics what I said.

Her eyes mirror the deep love

I have for my companion.


She sleeps on her back

Grooving to the radio

Sprawling supine dreams

Of chases without an end

Witnessed by subvocal barks.


Full moon equinox:

The graveyard is now dog town.

Most dogs go to mate;

Stella goes out to kick ass

To show she's queen of Green Street.


Stella was chasing

A fertile mongrel in heat,

A circle of males

Baying loud in hot pursuit

Of a bitch they'll never mount.


The virgin huntress

Forsakes all other pleasure

For concentration

On slyly stalking the prey

Then pouncing fast for the kill.


Stella is a freckled pooka

brindled fluffy reddish brown and blonde

with tail flying triumphant in the breeze

like the crest on Achille's helmet


half is irish setter

descended from Swift's

paramour who remembers

the words upon the windowpane


the other half was a chinese princess

whose vicious tongue condemned

her to an eternity of barking


cunning linguists have suggested

the modest proposal

that one syllable of chow-chow

signifies kau as canine

while the other means food

thus becoming

the dog you eat


asians also call this a lion dog

because of her loyal devotion

she's guardian to the king

more faithful than all his wives


she puffs up her mane

and a ruff on her rump

and waves her flossy tail

like a cavalry flag


this tail is often depicted

in classic iconography

as wrapped around a globe

which she jealously protects


she doesn't like other dogs

sniffing around her tail

and she'll tell every female

to stay away from my man


very intelligent and obedient

you can tell she's a pooka

by her wink when she wants

you to do something for her


back dogs bark but front dogs

can control strays by eye contact


when she wants something

she gets my attention with affection

then leads my point of view

to coincide with hers


if I take good care of her

she could be good

for another ten years or so

then I wonder how

she'll taste with sweet & sour sauce  




James Fenimore Cooper V was the scoutmaster

Who taught us Indian Lore and Aviation Technology.

Both involve the idea of emancipation through flight

Just as Hawkeye Deerslayer Pathfinder Natty Bumppo

Fled every oncroach of orderly civilized urban life.

Mr. Cooper quit his job as a geologist

To build an airplane in his garage--

And not just any airplane

But a plane of wood and glue

Without any metal or screw

Except for the top-mounted engine

Pushing back toward the rudder.

You should have seen how it flew!

Mr. Cooper told us at the powwow

How Indians got eagle feathers--

Not with aimless arrows shot aloft--

But by baiting pits with carrion--

Catching the big birds in blankets.


When Mr. Cooper grew out his beard,

I thought he was bold and cool.

To me, he was never ever a fool

Though my father thought him weird.

Because his life has influenced mine,

I hope he's not the last of the line.