Today's poem is by Michael Theune

November Valentine

Darkness veins up
Through the fireweed,
A black oak leaf hangs in a sugar maple.

                 What can I offer
That is not already

Setters howl and setters bay.
Already the hunt's proceeding.

Already four candles flash black tongues.


I have been in love for twenty-four years,
And I have learned nothing: a few names,
Some dates,
                  what I take to be—woodsmoke
In the break—a fact. Or two.
Little (I am a careless lover)
                                            of significance.

Briars and nettle cling to my pant legs.
Clouds gather in some old phase of the moon.
I pray for the success of my enemies;

Even my lover's name escapes me.


                 What can I offer
That you don't already possess?
What trace-arrow, bowstring?
This cut-out heart? These shadow-wings?

The deadfall sinks its eleventh inch into the year.
A black rib opens, darkling—

I give what I have to give:
I know a shortcut,
                            and I do not take it.
A black rib (made of rain) opens—

Copyright © 2002 Michael Theune All rights reserved
from American Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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