Tag Archives: Artificial Horizon

The Maple

The Maple


Near the top of the mountain
Across the grief of February’s empty arms
A single maple bursts into red buds.


The tree is not predicting spring, I note
And though alone, as I am, driving past,
Is not a symbol of courage, or a prophet, as I think I’d like.

It’s a being of air and earth, maybe keener
Than its cohorts at sensing a change in soil
Or air enabling itself to change

Into its next self.  In the morning
I hear the birds it cannot hear that tell me things
Are on their way to April.  I have my own cues

To draw from me the things I grow.
But that can’t be all: the Anglo-Saxon maple harp,
Excavated from a barrow in Berkshire,

Still struck an open chord
Across the dirt of centuries.
The maple love spoons carved by Welsh

Ancestors hang on the thrift store wall
And can still be recognized for what they are:
A domestic object wrought with

A passion undomestic and ornate. The maple
Is  durable for carving and can hold personal feelings
Far longer than the body can. Long after grief

Has run its course and the forces of air and earth
Have consumed us back into the world of unerring matter
And our family trees severed from this single point

Of meeting. Maybe that’s why this maple means
What it means to me, alone and driving by.


from the collection The Artificial Horizon


Halloween JackClosest thing I have to a Halloween poem…

Migration by Air

Daylight crawls up the highest steeple in town,
Jumps off. No one sees it fall or hears it land.

Just like yesterday, it left no note.

Walking up my hill, thinking about lost souls, mine
Among them, I look up. In the moon’s first quarter

The sky smiles with one curved tooth.
A few clouds hang over the gables like gauze.

Like a swarm of black non-sequiturs suddenly

Dozens of vultures sweep over the crest of the hill in front of me,
Covering the sky, some gliding, too large to fly but beating
Away common sense

With slow motion punches, close enough to the ground
That in this mid-autumn
Silence I can hear the engine of each heavy wingbeat whisper-chuff

Like some far-away locomotive with its freight of happy carrion.

At this hour everything turns the shade of barely missed opportunities,
Or a thing you forgot to say as the moment fades into the past.

The moment is gone, but the thing remains.
It’s still there, behind the dark.
By the next day it will be changed by even a single night yet utterly

Recognizable. This is why loss stays with us. Why all God’s numbered hairs

Stand on end when the last vulture pauses and circles
You before moving along,
Why we feed monsters candy. Because they see in the dark.

from The Artificial Horizon