Travis Mossotti’s poem “The Dead Cause” won first place in the James Hearst Poetry Prize in 2009. His poem is featured in issue 294.2, Spring 2009 and can be still be purchased through our online store.
The Dead Cause
On the porch, a grasshopper waved its serrated foreleg at me while I juggled
groceries for keys; it was the kind of friendly wave I might expect
from a loved one, recently dead, reincarnated into this green husk.
The whole ordeal triggered an alarm of distant thunder, stuffing my head
with dark seeds; so after waving back, I ducked inside, fearful
of inadvertently giving the dead cause to haunt me—the last thing
I needed. Regina was off doing research in Glen Rose again, otherwise
she would’ve identified the grasshopper using the scientific precision that always
fussed my mouth with cobwebs. As it was, I dialed her number
just to make sure she was okay, that she wasn’t yet a grasshopper.
Probably nothing more than a locust—Melanoplus spretus, she said. It could’ve been Buddha, maybe,
I should’ve invited it in for tea, I said before saying goodbye. Raindrops the size of doorknobs
began chasing a garbage truck past the kitchen window. I set the kettle
on the stove to boil, and with curtains curled back slightly, watched a procession
of locusts lope out from the tall grass, apparently no longer waiting for an invitation
Travis Mossotti was awarded the 2011 May Swenson Poetry Award for his first collection of poems About the Dead (USU Press, 2011), and his second collection Field Study won the 2013 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize (Bona Fide Books, 2014). Mossotti has also published two chapbooks, and recent poems of his have appeared in issues of the Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Review, and elsewhere. Photo by: Regina Mossitti