— Lily Klee, 1939

written the night before the presidential election of 2020

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I begin with the snow

the tang of cold
and all that is white —
the daily decay of the sun
that as an afterthought
mimics each hour as the last.

This iron sky so plagued
am I wrong to still love
the misery that comes in the early dark?
We all die with the first blow
only to be buried among the rocks
and crows of a field.

                     You have time
to stare down the night;
you have time to lean on a rail
of fence and call to the adolescent shadows.
Maybe you will manhandle the black,
no, not manhandle, maybe you will
sculpt what you do not know,
what you do not understand
into something that is
only a reflection
of yourself.


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inking the marina, the docked white-sided yachts,
their sails as sharp as knives ready to slice
the lake water that edges too close
to the shore, their fiberglass glow the last to be seen
as the sun goes down. How easy to mark
the dark in the mountains where coal
once lit the night, the fields where furrowed rows
mocked the rays of the sun. The darkness arrives
in bits as if on bat wings, erratic,
hungry for what fills the night sky with
hum and buzz. A certain pitch slides past
lawns recently shaved, edged and dressed
as if donning new pleated khakis. Night feeds
on night; the darkness grows: a dog’s mouth
open and panting, ready to bark, howl, growl.


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The last of the dead leaves fall
like missed opportunities, renunciations in copper
and sulfur, each their own legato lifting & lowering
on a slow shift of wind. And for a few months
our lives are lived within the flames;
we can imagine the stake, the woodpile at our feet,
our eyes turned towards heaven.
But soon the cool, wet days of winter
silence our complaints, calm our burning
skin & when we walk past the river,
we hear the carillon of stones and fallen branches;
ecstatic, we know that deep chorus —
bone on bone, like the crystal vibrations of a glass
rubbed and rubbed, rung out until
it gives up its song. Lift up that song.
We are always the instrument.
The landscape always our ministry.

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