In the graying sky and the barn owl’s rough-edged wing,

in the field mouse’s rising scream,

in one knuckled moment between sleep and waking,

I slip from this cold bed to memory, to streets swabbed old pewter

and steam billowing from the oil-slick manhole covers.


I’d go to those grates for their dank warmth

lowering myself one slippery ladder rung at a time

into the breathing, clanking womb of the earth.

The tunnels stank of gas and old sweat and piss

but also, like in this torn and crumpled greenhouse,

of water and moldy dirt.


Even so, why does my mind carry me there now

other than the burnt end of another year, a century stubbed out?

Though I’ve risen from the steam tunnels

under the gray-hooded stare of a hungry day,

risen and can say puddles trap the moon in their icy mirrors

and mackerel-dappled horses chew stalls to splinters

in the jewel boxes of their mouths

while luna moths wait cocoon-curled in broken branches and leaves,

my body knows the true scope of winter.


Pain scurls up from my swollen ankles

and lightning-blasts my scarred back,

the early soot-shot sky squeezes down

over the stuttering pulse of the pond

where buried turtles, frogs, and snakes coil close against the cold.


So I’m homeless again though this time with an army cot

and a rope dangling from the greenhouse’s steel rods.

The rope I pull myself up with deliberate hand

over hand, as each spasmed pain scurries

the blue flutter of my soul to wait outside myself

and the sky empties and the billions of small lives wait

huddled in hunger’s claw.


So much loss

still the snow shudders and its heart beats once again.


Photo By: GollyGforce