They are raven-like, dark-winged
moving toward a tangled nest
or like crows circling
seeking their own kind
against a fog-ivory sky, the outline
is interleaved with comings
odors from mud
but now, as I stop and sit, it becomes
light-blue sprigs nuzzling
amid the white silence
and I see
the birds are skylarks
in the painting
where joy flies on
The shot was clean, right through the eye,
the officer said, grabbing the fawn’s hind legs,
and gesturing like an Olympic disc thrower,
he picked it up, and turning, flung it
into the woods’ overgrown weeds.
Its body still twitching, I watched
from afar the undignified tossing of a life,
ended randomly, by a passerby’s car.
Its spotted coat sputtered and quivered
in the scrubbed sun’s light.
I cannot imagine anything worse─
cradling my own child’s bloody head.
I trusted you, his eyes would say.
Usually, the deer come out at dusk.
I should have seen it coming. Its mother,
not me, should have stroked its head,
should have been there, should have
taught her child to leap higher, should have
known how to divine the crossing over.
Wild with spring tenderness,
the woods are blooming with flowers,
but invasive species are on notice.
Long ago, someone named these foreigners:
Queen Anne’s Lace, wild carrot,
delicious contraceptive sautéed in garlic.
sand-loving lyme grass, so prized
by basket weavers, pickers
earned jail time in 17th century Scotland.
garlic mustard, poor man’s nutrition,
richer than kale and spinach. It is
a problem. They say
we will be overrun
by baby’s breath, gypsophila paniculata,
the tiny, cloud-like blooms on Christmas trees.
Be afraid. These plants play dirty.
If we eradicate these invaders
maybe hate will disappear as well.
Garage Sale Rooster
Because of rust, what you overlooked,
you paused for its bent rebar feet,
marred beak, and yellow
head topped by a crimson comb,
for its wattles dangling
over an Iowa green body,
Because your once bright, not
leathered, arms carried grain
with innocent hands, you fed them,
the chickens, your simple mission for the day.
Then you saw one dragged. Then.
It was cruel, the head chopped
the body flopped on, without a head,
from its veins, the noonday sky
red-fired with sharp streaks, slack, sudden.
. In the kitchen, a waiting
pot boiled on an old stove.
It had its own distress, that old pot.
Into the heat, the salt
the onions, the butter,
the body, finally quiet, fell
for supper, for you
on the farm who ate, because,
because you could not resist.
I was told to check into a Chicago motel,
just off a busy freeway, alone.
A man named Rudy would come.
It would cost three months’ rent.
A woman tells the story on the radio
about her abortion forty years ago.
Rudy showed up in a crumpled brown suit
with a paper bag in his hand.
Maybe there shouldn’t have been Gideon’s Bible
in the drawer next to the bed when I woke
in bloody sheets, the man gone.
Maybe it wasn’t the time for insistence
of life, as I rode the train back home
past spring’s curled gardens bursting
with so much lily of the valley.