Drinking Coffee in Ankle-Deep Mud With Aliens

the fuzzy, pink aliens came
and indeed they had lips
thick like zucchini
and soft like the velvet belly of a puppy
all slobbery, too,
smacking together when they spoke
the aliens told us there is a god in our coffee steam
and asked what is all the fuss about?
we said we just have so many tasks!
indeed the aliens had soft-ball-sized eyes
they told us we see your task
your task is in the jelly-legged ranks of steel-toed society, kicking your swollen feet through the
sludge and hauling quarry stone with crackling finger bones – building the high-rises where
kings are buried
your task is where scabby hands pour oil into pumps that suck gunk out of drinking water –
spilling hydraulic fluid the whole time
your task is in your eyes crossed into one another – bloodshot and clotted with dying
your task is in your squishy lungs inhaling volcano sunsets and nuclear fog
your task is families collapsing on knees – shivering in the rain – hungry – praying for
horsepower and corn
your task is sinking in the sloppy earth – screaming gurgles to seismic detectors – making the
last plopping bubbles to be heard by heaven
your task is in the mud
indeed the aliens had big bellies and met us with hugs
they told us you have to try stopping
let the choir take a breath
we all grew thumbs once

Aliens Keep Hummingbirds As Pets

My mother always kept a mummified hummingbird in her china cabinet. It was tombed in a

glass box with tarnished brass corners, smaller than a deck of cards. The china cabinet’s


was thin and it curved between the varnished, cherry frame. That Kentucky antique was

responsible for my family’s blood pressure, pulsing like bowling balls through a water hose

every time we moved homes.

Don’t let it break! Don’t let it break!

We moved every few years. My family replaced hugs with trips to the grocery store for


boxes and packing tape. I can’t remember hugs from my parents. I’m sure they would have

happened, though. I think growing up was a bit like army crawling under a tissue paper


suspended eight inches above the carpet, and the world will end if the paper rips.

Oh well, humans don’t live so long, anyways. That’s how ZZZZXCHRT sees it.

Also kept in the china cabinet was an almost-complete set of yellow depression glass,

which is a

see-through, glass tableware that used to be included in food packages during The Great

Depression. Mom collected it, and was only missing the gravy boat and a sugar jar. My


Rangers trophy for winning a match car race was also there, along with some Mickey


drinking glasses from the 70s.

ZZZZXCHRT, when they first came to Earth, was fascinated by the contents and spent


examining each piece. Most of all, they loved the hummingbird. It made them cry steaming


that fogged the glass.

Aliens keep hummingbirds as pets. They use our planet as an incubator and aviary.

XXKRRRKRK originally introduced hummingbird eggs to our planet about thirty-million


ago, as well as gnats and cardinal flowers. They did not expect creatures with moral


(humans) to evolve here.

Every year, thousands of hummingbirds are abducted for the intergalactic pet trade. They


dying now. I sometimes try to impress my dates with how many facts I know about

hummingbirds. I’m still single.

The birds are dying. ZZZZXCHRT is here to investigate. They heard of my mom’s

hummingbird, the only-ever mummified hummingbird. That’s how we met.

They asked me if she preserved the body because it had been her pet. I said no, but when I

was a

child, Mom did keep a stillborn goat and a dead hamster in our freezer for three years. She


the baby goat to bury with her mother, who, for years after the still birth, hobbled around

shedding cacao fur in the corner of her dusty pasture, distant from the other goats.


she leaned-leaned-leaned over dead in the dirt.


(As a side-note, I had another goat named Abigail get eaten by a dog. She had been very

affectionate. Her daughter, Windy, later got her head caught in a fence and broke her neck.


family never had so much luck with goats.)

No one knows why Mom kept the dead hamster. I feel too weird to ask. It had died of old


before we even had goats, but was also buried with the goat family. In my family, we could


reprimanded for laughing too hard or too much.

We also don’t know why she kept the hummingbird. When Mom was a small child, it died


into the window of her family’s Kentucky home. She put it in a glass box, and the box turned


to be air-tight, so the carcass didn’t rot. Fifty years later, I think she’s just seeing how long it



Her mother, my grammy, is breathing bleach and wandering the halls of a small-town


home. There are other people with her now, in her Alzheimer's mind, children needing her


and short people living in trees. Grammy keeps eating. We do not know how long she will


Are humans preserved in glass? ZZZZXCHRT wants to know. No, we burn those fuckers and

turn them to ash. In fact, my dad’s parents, Grandma and Grandpa, we kept their ashes in a


for eighteen months because the trip to the family graveyard in Iowa was too expensive. We

eventually got them there.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards. Hummingbirds weigh less than a

nickel. Pesticides are killing the hummingbirds. Hummingbirds sleep hung upside down.


cats are killing the hummingbirds. Hummingbirds cannot smell, walk, or hop, but they have

excellent eye-sight. Red dye is harmful to hummingbirds. Hummingbird wings flap over fifty

times per second. When hummingbirds migrate, they fly over the entire Gulf of Mexico in one


That means on this trip, they flap their wings around 2.75 million times. Habitat loss is

killing the hummingbirds. Hummingbird tongues can move in and out of their beaks thirteen

times per second, potentially making them the most naturally-gifted creatures at cunnilingus, but

this has never been observed in the wild or captivity.

ZZZZXCHRT’s report on hummingbird mummies as a potential threat to their species was

inconclusive. They told me when I die, they would like to put me in a glass box, also, to

remember our time together.