Repeated Addition, Jacob Butlett

I found numbers at the park today.
Eight red maples gestured toward sixteen
cedars, twenty-four cottonwoods gestured
toward thirty-two bitternut hickories.

Five red-headed woodpeckers drilled
fifteen holes, ten earthworms dug thirty
holes. Sixty-five honeybees flew out
of four hives, three hundred and twenty-five

harvester ants crawled out of twenty anthills.
Three dozen pink coneflowers fluttered
in the sun, four dozen black-eyed Susans
swayed in the shade. A baker’s dozen

of panicle hydrangeas trembled in the wind
like a pack of penguins, twenty-six centipedes—
many with sixty-two legs, others seventy legs,
others eighty-six legs—charging up each stem

in pairs, like pairs of oil tankers climbing upriver.
Nine boulders sat along the riverbank, perches
for twenty-seven bald eagles eyeing me eyeing
six ospreys in midflight, their twelve eyes fixed

on eighteen trout below, six feet away from
twenty-four bullfrogs splashing sparkling algae
on eleven lily pads, on twenty-two cloud reflections
in translucent scum. Eight water striders strode

by with forty-eight legs, six hairy legs apiece.
Seven viceroys danced with seven black
swallowtails in a field of forty-nine joggers.
Three red-headed squirrels chased three

rabbits to the edge of nine prickly briars.
While one man in a green baseball cap kissed
one woman in a red sunhat under a gold
canopy of leaves, I sat on a bench alone,

grateful that the world’s not filled with zeroes.

*

Jacob Butlett is a Pushcart Prize nominee with an A.A. in Liberal Arts and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Rat’s Ass Review, COUNTERCLOCK, Cacti Fur, South Broadway Ghost Society, Rabid Oak, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Anti-Heroin Chic, Into the Void, and plain china. He was a finalist in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards residency competition. Learn more about Jacob at https://jacobbutlettacademicreflection.weebly.com/.

Jacob Butlett recommends the poem “Nothing But Death” by Pablo Neruda.

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