a poetry e-zine










Poems By Lafayette Wattles
superfluous watermelon seed

no one knew. it was no more than a snip, a slip, a smack of life, like
a pink pin-prick
inside a balloon deflating dreams. when you told me what you wanted to
do, i pictured
coat hangers and clumps of gouged essence slopped in a bucket in some
dark sweaty
room where the walls were as scarred as the innocence. where a single
swollen bulb
snickered at the flickers of life that passed the threshold of that
unnamed place and into
another world. but how could it be darker than this one? where seeds
are sown and then
the earth defiled. where roots are hacked after they take hold.

they made me wait in that deceiving room (where the lively nurse
greeted us) with its
sterile eggshell walls colorfully adorned with wooden wombs of
magazines on homes
and gardens and happy things. as i sat there and tried to breathe, i
could feel a teaspoon
scraping sides, carving out our needle's-eye corpse and the tomb's
fertile walls. the hour
evaporated, sucked through a tube. and you walked with heavy empty
thighs to the car.
you did nothing, said nothing, held nothing the long drive home.

we ate that night with your parents. your father spoke on banking and
his passion for fruit.
and, while your eyes dropped inside, searching for remains, your nanna
was inspired to tell
the story of her two sons born still, lifeless, and how her husband
buried the first in an old
tool box out back beneath a rose bush and how the roses blushed that
year. then she spoke
of the second, who fell onto the kitchen floor like blood pudding. and
how your father, only
eight, called the ambulance. how the man came with his stretcher and
breathed life into that
lump of flesh. how the little baby lived and grew and owned an orchard
for twenty years
before he fell from a ladder and broke his neck.

your mother scooped watermelon for everyone and you ran to the bathroom
to hide, but you
couldn't escape yourself. your little brother spat seeds into a pale
bowl that was my hand holding
life discarded like some insignificant surplus of anatomy—a gnat of me.
i asked myself, what
sort of coffin could they build for the meat of a nut? could a matchbox
contain an extinguished
flame the size of a dimpled flea? you came back, flushed, plucked clean
like a plum tree, ready
to leave.

you've never talked about that day, but i notice we haven't had
watermelon since.

(Previously published in Callisophia.)

Auschwitz: A Sonderkommando's Tale

As if from a maggoty fish tin, when the doors of the train were peeled
back we spilled into an unfathomable world. And while most read the
sign: "Arbeit Macht Frei," we few were herded to the trees and the little
white house that harbored Hell – darker than any place a man can know,
except inside the souls of those who feed it – where we found hundreds
of staggered, naked husks (menwomengirlsboys) climbing each other in
some twisted orgy of death.

I lacked the strength, then, to find a shard of glass or wood or
anything sharper than the fear of ending and carve true "freedom" upon my

Now, I am stuck, suffocating: a crow scavenging the dead for them,
plucking gilded teeth and harvesting tresses of hair like stalks of gold,
knowing if the shipments cease my own will fund the old age of some

There is a pit, a wound in the earth, on the other side of Hell, hidden
from the rest of camp until they are made to fill it like some
ravenous maw.

It was there, yesterday, that I shaved onions. That's what they had to
become – bald, gray, onions in a field of mud, fed to that unhallowed
scar – until they were an undeniable sea of corpses capped amber in the
pyre, as flames skipped skulls like the orange feet of Death playing

The living-dead inhaled, unawares, final traces of
lovers-family-friends. The very ones I have come to numbly look for each day for they bring
the sun, for their departure ransoms me another damnable breath, here,
in this little red house which is big enough to suck towns from the

Outside, today, a panther's tail of smoke lashes the sun like it did
the day we arrived – the day we were siphoned from the living – while I
reap braids from two cousins I did not tell about the shower heads. What
good would it have done? Released from the horror, the roll thickly,
now, into the blue; spewed from a sick beast going nowhere.

Tomorrow, I shall choke rivers gray with these powdery "criminals" and
exist another day while they dust clouds. I envy them their escape, but
am much, much, too small a man to join them.

(Previously published in Festival.)

Autumn in New York

Color falls from hills
in the varied shades
of dust a thing becomes.

The woods nearby
improvise loneliness,
their crooked arms cocked.

And, as I gaze upon
the space between trunks,
I am reminded of you
pretending to be
swallowed by the skeleton
of a whale until the guards
came with heavy
smiles, fished you out.

This is autumn,
season of change,
never bigger
than the eye.

(Previously published in Callisophia.)


Lafayette Wattles, a former factory worker turned banker turned jeweler turned high school English teacher turned golf course pro-shop facilitator, Lafayette's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Shit Creek Review, Prick of the Spindle, RUNES, Eclectica, Slurve, and Foliate Oak, among others. My photo, "Scholar," is cover art for the December 2007 Issue of Blood Lotus.

Copyright 2008  Chantarelle's Notebook