Brandon Rushton

A Botanist Tires of Teaching Table Flower Etiquette


I finally give up growing
                                        vegetables in the litter box.
It’s all so much spoiled soil.  Your ice water suggests

we need to anticipate the coming cold front, moving
east across the North America of our TV screen.

Which, let’s be real, means nothing
                                                    except if the two of us sit
still long enough the burglar at the back door will do away

with his picking and move along down the street
two maintenance women dig cable lines and strike

a time capsule because the window’s open
                                                     we can hear them argue
over just who, exactly, that lock of hair belongs to.

You know I can’t resist that sexy thing you do
with grape tomatoes and your nostrils and in doing so

pull me into the living room where if you put your ear to the wall
                                                     you’d think neighbors
must be murdering each other in the bedroom.

The way they must have giggled getting into their cars
in the parking lot outside our window hear rain, hear it puddling.

I try to do away with cold fronts and makeshift formulas
                                                     for early onset midlife crisis
and just how hard it is to pack up and leave this

is what it turns into: like the dividend of distance in quarters
tossed at the toll booth.  The man on a street corner

who might looks at us, stop, and hand us a map
                                                      of the monuments
in a place where the wind is a slow screw in the temple

A little bit of bone mentality, like see my marrow
follow the trail across the fallow fields of such memory:

You, standing in your tears and your tissues
like you might have grown up along the edge of the quarry.

I’ve ripped out the mesh and started planting seeds
                                                      in the sand box
which is only indicative of the way I make you
make me feel certain.

                         Crazy Weather | Rick Cummings

                         Crazy Weather | Rick Cummings

Tantrum (An inadvertent example of ice thaw)


At first, I wasn’t so much alarmed by the smoke

coming out of your ears.

For my sake, let’s pretend the sound of you

throwing a glass figurine through the bay window
is my misinterpretation of dancing

in the front room. Listen, the front room is a metaphor
for lobe-like activity. Actually, its not

but how many times have the two of us tried to forget

where we come from is just like boys dunking each other

in the shallows

sometimes I mistake the lake for romance.

Children chasing circles around the wet pool deck.
An anthropologist sweeping skull remnants

into a dustpan.

If pressed to explain myself: almost archaeology.

Our foreheads are hot and we are out of position.

Positions no one should be in and the ones we pretend

to be in: why I asked you to take my picture at the end
of the runway: to elicit a false perception

of me leaving.

Nobody inside the window to breath write I miss you to.

The saddest I’ve seen you is undressing
the snow man.

You who roll through the red light without me.




BRANDON RUSHTON teaches creative writing at the University of South Carolina, where he also serves as the editor of Yemassee. A finalist for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Southern Humanities Review, Adroit Journal, Permafrost, Moon City Review, and others.