Last Ever

When the hour is 5:30 am
the sky is lamp yellow.

The meadow halved by a shadow.


Poems like smashed insects
are lined up evenly on sheets with a dot of blood
from someone
between three wings.  (The third is the bird)

Each one is carefully named                                            


On the way out of port
there are fir needles
in a line and salt water
from the cut is rushing towards them.
And fish rejoice at daybreak
and splash like silverware.


This is by far
the most broken world I’ve ever seen.


Look at the snow, the ice, the rock
that bucks like a waterfall.
No crocus, no beanstalk,
no fruit or sun-dripping
iridescent rain.
There will be no list
outside a courthouse door
giving your name or the hour
of your appearance.
No announcement of
which of your friends
was first, last or in the middle.
You are a farmer in winter now.


Bell-shaped streetlights.

Wet and yellow
school buses rest.

Fish far gray at the ramp.

The hay a damp aspect of

One red light burns
alone on the landing.


Every room is still a mansion to you:
you who wants to live in an Irish hotel!

To sit in a lobby and beside the fire with your feet in a chair.

To stare at the other children seeking asylum.

Little Prayers

Rain again, only a few yellow
leaves remain, like candles
    on the wet black branches, aglow
    for all departed souls.

Halloween, the Day of the Dead,
comes with its grinning skulls;
    no more grieving, masks instead,
    the dead sleep in their holes.


Early November, snow predicted,
time for the bird feeder.
    Chickadee and siskin to be fed,
    already winter is here.

What about me? Who will take care
of me through the long hours?
    Like the shambling solitary bear
    I’ll curl up, suck my paws.


Sometimes the birds come one by one,
other times in great flocks
    fluttering down by the dozen
    on one another’s backs.

And so it is with me as well,
first in the wilderness,
    then all at once the miracle
    of loaves and fishes.

Fanny Howe’s
most recent books are Come and See (Graywolf) and Emergence (Reality Street). “Recognition,” an essay on Simone Weil and George Oppen, appeared in our fall2009 issue.

Taylor Stoehr’s poems and translations have appeared in many publications, including on these pages. Ask the Wolf, translations from the medieval French of convict-poet Francois Villon, was published by the Unicorn Press in 2006. His translations of Classical Chinese poets of the T’ang Dynasty, I Hear My Gate Slam, was published the following year by Pressed Wafer. Stoehr also wrote daily poems in the style of Paul Goodman’s “little prayers.” A conversation with him appears in the current issue.