Today's poem is by Heather June Gibbons


Autumn leaves don't fall. The trees eject their dead
to survive the winter, the gaunt steer mounts the cow
in a brown field, a hearse slows all the same
for a deer or a skunk, and rake tines still break
the surface of the ground like the justified howls
of teething babies that pierce the tabernacle
or the chanting of priests as they flash their ancient signals.
Promise me that when the old man dies,
somebody will still feed the Jays.


Gone the iridescence of cellophane caught in a branch,
gone the wound up youths with their jejune and wiry follicles,
gone the jaunt and the feathery knuckles of barnacles,
gone the barnacles, for they have no heart, only a sinus
close to the esophagus, gone the coils of tobacco curing
like tangled red wigs from the barn rafters and the hungry
foals asleep at dawn, gone the edema and the groan,
and the diapered man cut down like a stand of Shagbark hickory,
his voice hauled out of him, a cord of stolen firewood
that burned before anyone remembered it was split.


Through the cataract of my sunglasses' cracked lens,
I see what the freight train sees: the ass-ends
of slumped houses, dogs dragging lengths of swing set chain,
Jays pricking bush berries with a brusque possessiveness.
How mean they are, I mean, how brave
to ignore the whiney flight patterns of small planes
and the busts of parking meters and all these other
signs of interference. Promise me that when this bouquet
shrivels, you will kick it off his grave.

Copyright © 2012 Heather June Gibbons All rights reserved
from Hayden's Ferry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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