Apology To A Wren (#43)

To the wren I disturbed,
Asleep in the porch eaves,
Bundled snug beneath
A November pumpkin moon,

I’m sorry, little bird,
To send you scrambling
Against a white, wooden sky
With frantic, futile resolve.

You ignored the open squares
Of night all around,
As though you were blind
To the darkness itself—

Freedom too spacious,
Too expansive, convinced that
What you could not see
Surely must not be.

Harmless Regrets (#42)

The Osage orange has been
Losing its mind,
Throwing brain-shaped fruits
At passing cars,

Painting the asphalt chartreuse.
It happens each autumn,
Days of harmless regrets—
Gardens unplanted, mornings missed,

Summer stored in sweater drawers.
Along the lane,
On a gate post,
A squirrel has hung a walnut

Hull, neatly as a cap on a peg.
Its uncrushable shell,
Broken in bits. The frozen
Light is too bright to be borne.

Wild Man in Suburbia (#41)

When I was a boy, on Halloween,
Trick or treating meant bypassing
The authentic, haunted farm houses
Of my rural community, spaced

Unwalkable half miles distant,
Windows black as skull sockets,
Their spiderwebbed porches unlit,
Graveyard yards unwelcoming.

Instead, I was driven twenty five
Minutes to the nearest subdivision,
Brightly lit with festive windows,
Flickering flames of jack-o-lanterns,

Dropped off with friends to chaperone
Ourselves through the groomed streets,
Until our pumpkins overflowed with candy,
Or eight o’clock—whichever came first.

“Did you hear,” a passing kid warned,
Breathing hard, voice urgent
Behind an Incredible Hulk mask,
“There’s a wild man out tonight!”

A wild man! We turned to one another.
What could it mean? We never feared
The razor blades hidden within
Fresh apples, mostly because

We never received any apples.
Even blindfolded, we knew that the
Bowls of eyeballs were peeled grapes,
The swallowed goldfish, canned peaches.

But a wild man was something new,
Foreboding. We walked cautiously,
Clustered tight, nervous as costumed
Chickens, clucking our misgivings.

And so, when an hour later the wild man
Leaped, roaring from the shadows,
Rushing towards us, all I saw was
Horror, murder, death, darkness,

Halloween’s promise fulfilled, and I ran,
Losing my friends, my way, my mind,
Sprinting, if I could have, all the way home
To those sweetly haunted farm houses,

While behind me, my friends now
Undoubtedly slain, butchered into chunks,
The wild man raised gore-spattered claws,
Threw back his gruesome head, and howled.

Galileo & Eggs (#40)

Sorting eggs with my son,
Listening to a twenty eight minute
Biography of Galileo Galilei,
Who raked the ashes of Aristotle

Over the coals of Ptolemy until
The Catholic church couldn’t help
But notice. A freckled egg,
Cupped in my palm, curving

Inward, sac, albumen, yolk,
Scintilla speck of embryo,
Brain, blood, programatic,
Geometric physics of biology—

Galileo, however, looking outward,
Told the priests, the inquisitors,
“You’re right. This is all just
My opinion. Can I go home now?”

Meanwhile, as he spoke,
His manuscript, banned in Rome,
Was being smuggled off to
Amsterdam for publication.

Back in Virginia, I teach my boy
To pack the eggs into dozens,
A legacy of Roman lucre,
When perhaps ten would make

More sense. Later, staring skyward,
A dozen stars. A thousand!
Jesus, Galileo. I just want to hear
That song by the Indigo Girls.

October Light (#39)

Where I backed the silver trailer
In the autumn rain, pressing close
To oak boards once painted black,
The wooly longhorn turns his head

To enter the vacant space,
Stepping into cool darkness.
Nearby, buttressed with stilt grass,
Panicles of pink knotweed,

The tomb of the ground spider,
Diurnal shroud decorated with fallen
Sugarnut leaves, funneling light.
The rain taps the pale gauze, and,

Deep within the coiled cold
The hungry mouth moves, twitching—
If it had a slavering tongue, surely
It would lick its dripping, ebony fangs.