Click the play button below to listen to Leath Tonino read
“Happysad.”

Double

Yesterday evening the marsh at the edge of town was going off, super active. I counted three beavers, one moose, one muskrat, thirty-seven elk, forty-four geese, plus who knows how many blackbirds and swallows and warblers and ducks. A lone pink cloud appeared on the surface of the wind-rippled water as a dozen pink clouds. The boreal chorus frogs were beyond loud, almost annoying. As usual, I felt dirty with privilege, but also incredibly grateful.

elsewhere a boy
barefoot and limping
endless gas-station parking lots

Together

Sometimes, on a lovely summer day, you feel defeated for no discernible reason. Everything is fragile and fleeting. Everything is already lost. The feeling isn’t pleasant, but that’s different than calling it bad. You take special care not to disturb the lines of tiny black ants crossing the driveway. You water the houseplants slowly, speaking their names in a low voice. Passing a mirror or a window or a puddle, you see a pained face and nod hello with a smile. You wish strangers living on the far side of the globe good luck.

writing is odd
i say you but mean me
and hopefully us

Snack

Gobbling tortilla chips with gleeful abandon, I forget to chew, and one triangle catches in my throat. Instantaneous panic. Sudden, deep, mammalian fear. It’s four in the afternoon, a sunny Tuesday, and I’m at the kitchen counter, choking, thinking this could be curtains, end of the line, sayonara. I picture my partner, Sophia, returning from work and finding me on the floor, unresponsive, crumbs everywhere. Will she notice that I unloaded the dish rack and took out the trash?

my epitaph
tidied up a final time
before leaving this mess

Yellow

Strolling a familiar trail through the woods, I spot the first yellow leaves of the year, a single branch on a single aspen. Crazy. Surrounded by a billion trees that with their rich green foliage say, “Summer,” this nonconformist, this prophet, goes its own way and says, “Autumn.” And me, what am I supposed to say in response? “It’s only the middle of August”? “Time passes too damn fast”? “I refuse”?

how about this
my arms outstretched
i will wait here until you fall

Malaise

Once, when I was riding my bicycle, a chipmunk darted through the spokes unharmed. Once, on a stage under bright lights, I bowed before an adoring audience. Once, at the end of the rainbow, I found the famous pot of gold and donated its contents to a struggling orphanage, cancer research, orangutan conservation. Once, in my grandparents’ cozy suburban den, I woke up and it was Christmas morning and snow was falling and Santa had filled the stockings and, best of all, my grandparents were still alive.

nothing much happened today
or maybe i just failed
to notice