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
and goings
birds-eye cries
of brush-wings
odors from mud
frenzied red
but now, as I stop and sit, it becomes
light-blue sprigs nuzzling
rough-edged gaps

amid the white silence

and I see

the birds are skylarks
making merry

in the painting
and beyond
the framework
where joy flies on

At Fault

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:
Daucus Carota,
Queen Anne’s Lace, wild carrot,
delicious contraceptive sautéed in garlic.

Lymus arenarius,
sand-loving lyme grass, so prized
by basket weavers, pickers
earned jail time in 17th century Scotland.

Alliaria petiolate,
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,
paint fading.
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
bloody, feathered-black
the body flopped on, without a head,
sight spurting
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.

Gideon’s Bible

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.