Cause and Effect

by Noah Renn

The fact that the blades of knives left unused for a month-or-so
return without fresh setting or sharpening is amazing,
but because no reason for this has yet been assigned,
The World’s Largest Knife Outlet closes early on St. Valentine’s Day.

Because I know spraying the back of my daughter’s arm
lets the kiddie-pool-slosh water the grass,
but because they go unwasted
the tears from the hose can’t be mine.

I thought once to tell her to sap the earth like the wisteria root
because even if it has the most wanton and wicked arms,
its purple lanterns make perfect frames for people’s faces.

Because the whole of him rarely adds up to the sum of his parts,
it’s sad (but not that sad) the Cheshire Cat’s webpage is not available for viewing.

We both hear the neighbor lady’s baby crying in house next door,
but I’m too scared to define for my daughter the word widow
or explain the reasons for war.

I know for a fact the collective self-bounty of Americans
has emptied out faster than a whiskey drinker’s bowels
after the first sip of morning coffee, but that’s not the reason
the stock price for The Paintings of Horses by Amateurs Inc.
has utterly plummeted into the valleys of those same paintings’ backgrounds.

But because a murderous psychopath now thinks
all the gods he never believed in are a simpler human’s explanation of aliens
poised to return in fits of violence and disappointment,
because now there is something to answer to—

with eyes and arms that will slide knives through him,
disassemble him into his component parts—

he has stopped killing people
and is now working as a Maritime Specialist in the local
nautical museum, I cry, after the pool’s emptied,
my child is sleeping, and the mice in the garage watch safely
as I paint landscapes and horses and huge purple moons.

Noah Renn is a writer and a teacher living in Norfolk, VA. His poetry and nonfiction have been featured in several print and online publications, including Blue Collar Review, North Central Review, New Verse News, Cezanne’s Carrot, The Virginian Pilot, and