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Jane L. Carman

Spring Sestina

it’s nearly noon and the sun slices
through the thick spring fog, dark
with winter’s gloom, heavy with fatality:
the spent daffodil’s bloom, the cut
tulip whose bulb shrinks into earth,
the dew worm mining to the surface,

the bittersweet-bellied robin surfaces
through cold air, the flight slices
until stick feet meet warm, wet earth
as eyes scan lawns and ditches dark
with winter sleep, the worm cuts
through to the robin’s charge, a fatality

among spring’s chalk marks of fatality
struck against the papery surface
of birch bark, each stain cuts
into the trunk, rips and slices
death as a jagged feature in dark
congealed blood of waking earth,

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One Blue Buffalo (Sestina)

Snow swirled and blew over the plain
the minutes melted into hours
the frosted buffalo stood still
solid against the breath of time
it faced life and death with scotch
colored eyes, affected by nothing and no one

each winter struggle the buffalo won
illustrated mastery of blue sky and plain—
wicked winds and flying ice could not scotch
survival that desperately depended on each hour
it was the buffalo’s time—the natives’ time
and without hesitation it remained still

history remembers lost time, still
it is accepted by most and accurate to no one
misrepresentations are drawn by this time—
what happened on the buffalo’s plain
or in the blue of each pond, each hour
history changes—reality is scotched

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A Place With No Name

“They tell me you are wicked and I believe them…”
— Carl Sandburg, “Chicago”

This is place with no name,
an imagined ideal, nostalgia
wearing bib overalls, chewing
grass stems, herding cattle,
shearing creamy black-faced
lambs. We carry buckets full
of myths and great expectations.

She hungers for the flavor of buffalo, longs for fresh bones, cougar tracks, wolf dens, the scorch of rapid flames escorting one season into the next, total exchange of life for life, of death for hope.
This is neither fairytale nor ancient pastoral, neither romanticism nor barefoot babes—It is Kinsella’s antipastoral in America.
It is coyotes and coydogs lurking behind walls of fiery thistle, luring pups through horseweeds to razor sharp traps with whimpers and pledges of friendship.

I have seen the earth swallow her own children.
I have seen the sun drink until there was nothing left for the land, until the sunflowers hung their heads in shame and wept dry black tears.

I hear nightly incantations of this place, it howls sober songs—I hear the hollow sounds of owls that warn, the cry of cold winds that begin and end every year—
The indifferent frogs chorus through lightening and spring snow—they think only of their children.

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