Chera Hammons, "Outflow"




The summer plants hang in fringing stems,

emptied of leaves and ripening fruit.

The holes through the blades of the prickly pear

brown at the edges, as if the heat that follows the wounds

has cauterized them.

The racket of flapping sheet metal on an old shed

could be a man hammering

to fix the wooden fence that fell under the frenzy 

of the gale rushing back.


A patio umbrella blown sideways against the gate

of a pasture, inside with the animals,

opens and closes enough with the spent wind

to look like a pink-striped jellyfish.

Black cows and their calves stand facing it,

noses raised in arrogant alarm, ears straight out,

brave ones tossing their heads and prancing like warhorses

before the slow pulse of a leviathan

they will come to accept but not understand.



Chera Hammons has had work in Beloit Poetry JournalConnotation PressRattleSugar House ReviewTar River Poetry, and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her chapbook, Amaranthine Hour, received the 2012 Jacar Press Chapbook Award. She is a member of the editorial board at One poetry journal. Hammons resides in Amarillo, TX, where she teaches high school English.