Poems by Samantha Grenrock

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by Samantha Grenrock

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Samantha lives in the Oklawaha watershed near Hogtown Creek and the Cabot-Koppers superfund site. The canopy is all banana spiders and Spanish moss.

Yellow dragon sickness
would be a disease of lifestyle—
the king on his gouty throne, suffering
the moment’s panacea,
straight mercury. We’d be amused
by that age when all good
medicine was poison
and a bad shipment of rats
sent you heaped on a rickety cart out of town.
Enter, the axe.
Our pestilence takes airfreight under cover
of logistics. The dragon is a psyllid,
a louse. Mouthparts inject yellow moods
into the phloem, trees blossom
at the wrong time of year. Oranges, chronically
unripe, metabolize the investor’s future
self. Gold rises
in the vein. In the grove, that’s the sound
of fruit dropping from the branch.
Slow decline is pathetic in the ancient sense.

Southern Oscillation

by Samantha Grenrock

From Canary Summer 2017

The people wish to be de-ionized.
They approach the juice bar,
wishing to be cleansed.

Once they drank dew fallen from roses,
then mineral water, taken for the cure,
then aloe, desert-pressed. Emerald juices

scrub out mitochondria.
Everyone’s pH is out of whack.
Everything’s on fire.

The children gallop around screaming
freedom from fluoride. Jubilee at the end
of critical thinking.

On the equator, a monstrous El Niño
breathes in light. The people take shavasana.
No land for days.

Humpbacks savage whale watchers
with slow grace. The horoscope says everything
will be just okay.

Twenty Questions

by Samantha Grenrock

From Canary Fall 2017

Are you a fine line?

Are you safer than table salt?

Are you a color in the rainbow,
delivered by helicopter,
by the drum?

What is your mode of action,
metaphysical conceit?

Are you found in the pulverized heads
of chrysanthemums?

Are you pre-emergent, dosed with snow
still on the ground, not giving
the suckers a chance?

Are you shared in the colony as forage,
or do you live among them, marry their daughters?

Do you burrow down
to the imported corn borer
locked up cozily in the ear?

What is your half-life
lying low among the municipal flowerbed’s
turquoise granules, which children take
as forgotten gems?

Are you, as we’ve heard,
not a fun way to go?

Are you the independent variable,
altering tail lengths in the tadpole stage,
growing them longer, broader, the better
for evading phantoms?

Do you accumulate in predatory birds
and the Dow-Jones Industrial?

Are you cousin to sarin,
glaucoma drops, sleep aids
said to encourage lucid dreams?

Do you ring the nerve,
open the ion channel to spontaneous fire, molecular
shootout in the city
held not for infrastructure (bombed-out)
but location (strategic)?

Are you a colorless, tasteless,
trade secret dropped on the breeding ground,
thinning the jungle?

What haven’t you gotten into?

You dust the living and the still living.


by Samantha Grenrock

From Canary Spring 2017

Raiding nests for fun, the black and white tegu
is caught on camera, an egg larger than its head
held lightly in its jaws, then carried off

and consumed without pleasure. That third-eyelid lizard look
looks past you. Like so many things on the cusp
of unmanageable, the tegu came by ship

and made a break for it. Descendant of that first escapee
tastes the familiar subtropics with a forked tongue, pink and lolling
in its mug shot, as if to say, there will always be more of us—

necks thick like Godzilla’s, black and white markings
greenish in youth, bad attitude,
no goals. These opportunists.

Here it is again in the coarse pelt of St. Augustine grass,
jumping the fence when the invasion curve says release the trappers
in their day-glow vestments, ready the canvas bag.

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