Pipe zombie is pronounced in French. It is a Caribbean wildflower with folkloric uses.
It’s always hot love or vengeance
That makes all you people
Come here to see me.
You want to fly on hawk’s wings
Past her old parents
Right to her window.
Or smooth slither the garden
With serpent’s venom
For the one who cut you.
So you come to see Mama Lo
So I’ll make you change
And then return.
You think you’ll have satisfaction,
I’m not so certain,
I think you’ll learn.
Do you imagine, after riding the sky
Above trees and the sea,
Taking prey in your claws,
And after that, being yourself,
Blinking your old, blurry eyes
On her balcony,
Do you imagine you’d hunger for her,
Or lust for the vision,
Fast flight, and talons?
Do you imagine, having worn emerald skin,
Having moved in pure silence
Through the bright leaves,
Feeling soft heat and small tremors
Of all life around you,
Knowing at once,
Do you imagine that rage could still burn
After you’d lived in
The reptile’s calm?
Yes, I will change you with pipe zombie,
Balsam apple and jellyfish,
Ashes of girl’s bones.
But you will change past humility:
In all shapes, a thing.
A bug. A dead stick. Dirt.
Rick McKenzie has been published in Minnetonka Review, Pearl, Wisconsin Review, Front Range Review, and Hiram Poetry Review. His poetry has also appeared in HIPology: Horizons in Poetry, an anthology published by Broadside Press, and in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper of South Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University, taught as a preschool teacher for years, and then worked as a park ranger. He enjoys being outdoors, whether snorkeling, canoeing, camping, or hiking.
Artwork: Chie Yoshii, “Pandora”