Today's poem is by Joshua McKinney

In Earnest

Fall's gold is gone. The American
will reek another week or two
before the circling birds stop

dropping black along the river's edge
to feed upon the rotting fish.
One marks this season by the stench

of kings—some picked to bones,
some bloated in the watery sun,
some carried home by fishermen.

A couple's lab has slipped its leash;
it runs and will not be called back
until it rolls in what remains, to mask

its scent in throes of primal joy.
A pack of boys casts stones at one
that offers now as evidence

its last thrashing in the shallows
near the shore. I leave my footprints
with the rest. Along this edge

death is success; and its resolve to live
nowhere in earnest, now here in every
phase, is almost nothing, almost all.

Copyright © 2003 Joshua McKinney All rights reserved
from The Kenyon Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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