Reading the Omens
A chorus of voices called, No!
when I reached for the latch
Don’t let her out, she’ll die.
A monarch hatched from the rafters.
Her orange and black wings a mirror
to the hot coals that waked her.
A trail of twisted cobweb sported flies
as if it were a kite tail tied with bows
and she ready to be launched to the sky.
Though we turned away,
she is with me still, as
I plan for the days ahead.
Take this as written:
when my time comes,
to hatch from this body
I want you to open the window.
First published in Boyne Berries 18, in the autumn of 2015
Published online at Trevor Conway’s website; Poems in Profile #17 (April, 2016-07-15)
Let Morning Come
(after Jane Kenyon)
Let the street lamps blink out,
the lights of Ballyvaughn grow dim,
as darkness gives way to day.
Let the shush-shush of the tides
slide into your dream, beckon you awake,
to open your eyes. Let morning come.
Let the sky lift her grey skirts,
draw up her shawl of cloud, the way
the curtain must rise before the play.
To the heron strutting along the shore,
to gulls drifting above the bay, to lovers
still in their beds, let morning come.
Let the gold disc deliver on its promise.
Let the wind come up. Let the fishing boats
sail from safe harbours. Let morning come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
keep yourself back. The world begins fresh
each day, so let morning come.
Skylight 47, issue 8, 2017
Don’t let the baby swallow your words,
the ones that arrive in the night
while you swaddle her, humming.
Sing into her small ears the lines
you will write in the morning.
She won’t mind what it is as long
as you talk softly and rock her gently
in the rhythm of your next poem. This
will keep the words from stifling you,
from choking her.
She loves all of your creations.
The lines you remember at dawn
become the maps she will take
away from these sweet days
and nights in your arms.
Skylight 47, issue 7, 2016
Where I’m From
(for Margaret McDonough)
I am from corn, hot Ohio miles of it. And the smell of ether
seeping from a black leather bag stashed on top of the fridge.
I am from pony men and card sharks, drunks and steam train drivers.
I’m from blue pencil marks on galley proofs, created on an upright Royal.
I am from screen doors slapping against armies of Canadian soldiers
every June. I am from the dog days of August, the ice storms of winter,
the frozen mud trenched roads of spring.
I am from a lake that died and a river that burned,
from The Erie, The Cuyahoga, and a town called Ashtabula.
I am from ore boats and the fog horns sounding long and lonely
as they herd the hulls of boats into their lanes. I am from the Bascule bridge,
the brick yards, the railway yards, and a back yard that was the lake.
I’m from The Mother of Sorrows, The Confraternity of Christian
Mothers, and the Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary.
I’m from a ham-fisted man with a fedora and a black skirted priest;
both with whiskey breath and an enviable reach.
I am from among her effects:
The loose powder box made of pasteboard,
stuffed with letters from her Iowa mother,
My dearest girl, she wrote, and Dear grand girl.
I am from Mayo’s Foot of the Reek
to the Allegheny farm on the Black Creek
still walking on from the Great Famine of 1845.
Jenny, YSA online journal, 2016