One reason to stop reading

He dares not open the book
They’re leaving in an hour
and aren’t packed yet

He opens the book
Poems for a small planet:
Contemporary American nature poetry

One poem read
Another
The next has him crying

He can’t take this book with him
Just as the writer of that last poem
cannot take the object

of his desire with him
anywhere
He closes the book

He puts it back
in its place, in this country
He will not return to

Everything he opens
closes like this
There is tragedy in everything

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Words

One writer
in this anthology
gave up writing.

The others kept going
—their names
are in book lists.

No one knows
where the writer
got to.

The writer may be
a suicide; left rotten,
forgotten in the woods.

Their writing
in this anthology
does suggest the possibility.

Perhaps they just decided
that writing such things
was pointless,

and are quite happy
somewhere, doing things,
and not writing about them.

Only the words
left in this anthology
remind us

there was
a writer at all.

Our legacy

Human will
etched shallow;
lines cut straight
across Nature’s
undulating waves—
indifferent
to calculus
—vectors of great desire
swept away
in minerals.

Don’t go there

Deep in these woods
lies a cabin.
I am trapped there—
a witch holds me prisoner.
The rules there are different;
things make little sense,
but I’ve learned to read signals,
and can navigate danger.
Though I wish you would visit,
I will not invite you…
if you found your way to me
I would celebrate in secret—
knowing the horrors
that lie waiting
—in my shame,
I’d protect you!

Reach

someone reached out to me
and all I saw was grasping

I reached out to you
and all you saw was grasping

all these hands reaching out
and we only reach back

when we’re weak enough
to think a pair aren’t grasping

or when we’re strong enough
to understand we’re all grasping