Near the end of a dark year

In the stressed syllable of the last month
sometimes I wake in the middle of the night

in the unstressed syllable of the third hour
and feel my heart moving around inside me

as if it is trying to escape when I am
not looking but where would it go?

It’s too early for the scrabble of starling
in the gutter above the open window

The cold air comes in, musical notes
the size of pillows. Like I haven’t

figured out how to dream yet
a window trying to be a wall

What magic changed glass into night?
Then today as the moon rose just after

sunset I found myself in a clearing
mind, thoughts scattered into the thicket beyond.

My heart circles slowly at the edge of the light.
I trust the trees like it trusts the trees.

Like a large cat it shrugs its shoulders
as it walks, like it’s forgetting to take

responsibility for anything like with each step
it’s a step further from what it’s done

Its fur glows at the edge of the circle of light
maybe waiting for me to turn my head

or for another like it to show up at the edge
then from the outside it will come for me

5 thoughts on “Near the end of a dark year

  1. qbit

    Outstanding. I could comment on every line. My favorite is “musical notes / the size of pillows” – terrific, but so much else as well. It might be too early for the scrabble of starling, but is it ever too early to *play* scrabble with starlings? I hear they are always good for a game, any time day or night!

  2. Portofino

    Okay, first read only: Love the echo in the first two stanzas — so very like the real echo in that it changes the words and meaning. That drew me in.

    I’m wrestling with your poem because it has not submitted fully; still holding back.

    A wealth of image play. At first glance I wondered over the inclusion of a point. The water deepens, ‘though, with each lap.

    Now this is where my recent readings leave me weakened — most bloggers cum poets aren’t totally both. You are a rare creature online (and I don’t mean that to blow gratuitous breezes up your kilt). But, shortcut to the chase, you are expecting either your heart to fail you, or to draw a kindred into your dark but imagery-laden night of the soul.

    I write with two other poets online. Quite often we play Ezra to each other’s T.S. I’ll save you the tedium of what I’ve done to my paper copy of this poem (I shall burn it and spread the ashes in my garden).

  3. Jeff Schwaner Post author

    Sorry so late with a response. It’s cool you have two fellow poets to share/discuss work with! My dad had a quadruple bypass when he was about a decade older than I am now, so that stuff is sometimes on my mind, so there’s that in there, for sure. He lasted twenty years past that operation, thankfully, so there’s that, too. Glad you are here reading, and thanks.


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