Poem: Flies

The carcasses of flies litter the floor
always near the windows. You’re convinced
that somehow the house is spawning them
that something in the vent breathes up flies.
But I’ve seen them clutch at the houseboards,
the doorpanes in speckled droves, waiting
for the chance that frees them from the cold.
We never count the door’s many swings
to let the cat out then in, to
pour the offerings into the leaves
to leave for our daily work, then come home.
Each opening a chance, each closing
a fate sealed, thousands of times per day.
They press themselves against the glass for this
one pure moment. Shouldn’t we do the same?
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Poem: Dying grass

The grass around me was laced with snow
and when the wind blew it took the summer
with it, whispering in a language I
understood all too well – the tongue of
the scythe whistling down, felling the last
of the old green, efficient and
impersonal, a human resource
director, unsmiling and direct
as futures end with the stroke of a pen.
For winter’s weak sun that lights your hair
will shine just as gladly on a field
of bones. Know that and walk free in the wind
and notice the delicate patterns
in ice, the beauty of the dying grass.
We are not so different, or as lasting.
photo 4.4

Photo by Cypresseyes

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Poem: The migration

A raucous chorus bursts overhead
as an arrow points south, black against
the white of the high clouds, feathered with
November’s pale light. I lift my head
from the ruin of the garden to watch,
and the naked trees, the rustling leaves.
The travelers head to the old green
but green still, where winter doesn’t creep
like a cougar behind the yellow grass
but here I stay watching the young leave
hoping that they will someday return
winging north, a wild song under their wings

Photo by David Whelan via Wikimedia Commons

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Poem: Morning run

Metal on my tongue as I kick the last
half-mile. My skin drinks in the morning mist,
the light rain as it falls. The rain slicks
down my hair into my ears with a shock
that rings me from heel to head. And the sun,
how she bleeds red in the east, edged with gold
swallowed by the billowing clouds, gray-furred
that chase her like wolves. My feet drum the chant
on the drowning earth, my breath rasping out
like a cricket caught in a jar. The scent
of rain, mingling with tobacco smoke as
a man walks past, slowing, talking to the road.
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Poem: Miranda

You’re frozen in time, that biting gray day –
a white diamond, a brown dirt field contrasting
against the monotonous green of grass,
the pointilist painting of the fall hills.
Your smile, free and easy like worn denim.
Your own coach tagged you out and you’re laughing
true laughter over the absurdity
of the game, the day. You slap her hand first
as the lines walk past, with that easy smile.
Five days later and the blade of the car
slices you from the world, all indifference.
These yellow lines never smile. They steer straight
and the world bends around them, unruly
as a head of brown curls and disciplined
by the rod of impact, force and motion.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say
except that I saw you that afternoon
slouching at first base, and swinging the bat
in its blurred arc and the crack, a nutshell
sound like the hearth’s heat popping the hazels
as we tell our fortunes on Samhain night.
Summer has ended and that memory,
too, fading like the green in leaves, grass
in the field the breaking glass of the frost

“Emma Hamilton as Miranda” by George Romney (1734–1802)

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Poem: A prayer for the unjustly imprisoned

May no walls constrain you, the spirit
fountaining forth unfettered. Justice
lies late in her bed, but soon the light
will wake her, and she will rouse and tear
the nightmask from her keen eye. May my words
disturb her dreams and hasten that dawn.
And may your days not be bitter to you.
May you instead be like Odin, gaining
all wisdom through your pain and bondage.
Be like the springhead, waiting under earth
for the crack in the hardpan, and rush forth
toward the light, ever sweet and soul in flight.

“Hope in a Prison of Despair” by Evelyn De Morgan (1855–1919)

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Poem: October butterflies

As the day shortens, wring the sweetness

out drop by precious drop. Someday soon

the stars will pierce you to the heart and


your blood will freeze, your delicate feet

on the last trailing plume of ragweed.

Your wings will mingle with the dead leaves.


The frost breathed over the valley floor

before dawn but your hillside escaped,

and the day warmed and you made your way


gaily under that stunning blue

the wild hue of the unleafing tree.

Drink deep. This is the life we are given


and while we live we can choose to fly

and feast on life’s sweetness, as the scythe

curls down in its inevitable arc.


Image by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson via Wikimedia Commons

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