Poetry from Absolute Faith

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THE MOCKINGBIRD AT THE WRITERS' CONFERENCE

The plagiarist solos every morning at sunrise, 

and loudly. We hear him high on the cornice,

gray throat working a line

clear and extravagant, urging us

out of our spare and stifling rooms.

 

From the vast water oak by the library

he recites before the morning lecture—

a sonnet of tanager, thrush couplet,

the caustic free verse of squirrels.

We hate him for his casual mastery

 

of form, and for being

the spontaneous poet we all want to be—

each borrowed phrase raised and melded

into art, each silvery intonation

the music and the mirror of deceit.

                                        -Published in Asheville Poetry Review

WARNING

Skunk

WARNING

How easy it is, to shut the damper thinking

the fire is dead. In the morning your sapless mouth

croaks with ash.  Or maybe you've done nothing,

and still a skunk bivouacs beneath

the mice-ways and plumbing of your mountain home.

He endows the drapes, a seasonal legacy

creeping out of closets and the sofa's foam.

Ten years ago you told yourself such petty

griefs were nothing but beggar lice, but now

you're finding it harder to shrug and forget the burrs

that seem to stick to everything you know.

It's not the way you want to live, and there's

good reason to keep from keeping that list

you dearly love--those things gone wrong or missed.

Fox

ABSOLUTE FAITH

What was I thinking about, driving

home that night, turning some unmade

choice like a set of keys in a coat pocket—

when a fox leapt from a laurel brake

just as my headlights swept the curve.

Spotlighted mid-arc, he twisted

back upon himself as lithe and fluid

as a whip, so his rear paws touched

instead of the front and he was

back in the woods he leapt from.

 

I think it the most graceful movement

I have ever seen, pure suppleness, like a wreath

of red smoke touching a breeze. Such a moment

terrifies, such ease in changing direction,

without plans, wholly committed to a move

and then undoing it, without caprice,

just absolute faith in opposites, seconds apart.

-Second Prize Winner, Chester H. Jones 1999 National Poetry Competition 

-Selected for Poetry in Plain Sight Initiative, N.C. Poetry Society, 2021