Monday, August 29, 2016



March comes and water moves,

The river, ponds, brooks open.

On snowshoes this is the last week

You’ll hike down these banks of

Rotten snow, the last week bridges

Of ice will be there to criss-cross

Down stream, the last week a

Deer carcass will be pinned between

Rocks and white water spray through

The white of her skull — the runoff

Will let her go, or break her to pieces —

You’re aware of this where you step.

Pools of water swirl 5 feet deep,

Maybe her bones will lay down in the

Sand and white pebbles here, it is

The last week to think of any of this.

Beneath your feet of oblong ash wood

And softened leather you sense the newness

Of life — hide has slipped all winter off

The body, it is time to go places.

Barred Owl
                             for Janine Pommy Vega

Without a sound

I made myself walk

A day in the sun

The thin pale grass breeze

An axe along to trim dead limbs

Moving beneath pines

I stopped when I saw its wings

Spread straight for me and

Grips itself 10 yards away

With no idea we were face to face

Black water of the eyes opening and seeing

Spotting easily what wasn’t right

In a skiff of wind

She dropped and floated

Low to the ground

Lost my  eye in blending flight

With feathers like the woodland


Some sound outside has raised our heads

Made us look into the eyes of one another.

You by the kerosene lamp glowing into your

Face and hair, knitting needles down in your lap.

I pull on high boots and wool shirt

Walk out to the dogs on their chains

Muzzles sniffing to the hillside.

We wait, beneath a clear wash of moonlight,

For sure we’re heard something and we’ll freeze

To hear it again — there, low bark, speaking from

A darkness left in the woods, excites the malamute

To circle his hut, piss on the pine he’s tied under.

No stir or movement up there, though these barks are

Moving across the face of the night, striking out

From some loss or pain, wearing down a trail.

I leave the dogs whining to go to the river

Rushing deep and flashing white light of the sky.

This is the clearest night yet for October

Frost webs open ground

Deer everywhere must be fattening on mushed apples.

A howl, now straight across from me —

I can’t see the bear but know it’s a bear,

The call it makes fills that body.

In a moment it will be farther away

Gone back into the hairs of darkness.

I hear nothing more, as if I’ve heard enough —

Now the middle of the night.

Soon that white light will rise out of the river.


Bob Arnold
(Mad River Press)