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Three Poems with Audio by C.J. Sage

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The Egret Floating 

I was suddenly back in bristles
when I saw the egret floating,
a stretched spline thrown down

or just knocked off. The threat
was to crack my code, 
that back and forth convention

of the highway. From that throne 
of all-leaned-back, the chute
was dropping. 

Now a huge, drowsy brood
of snowies spangles the cove;
now the self falls absent from the car.

An unbroken seed-head.
Shoots tossed outward. A solar
system. To build planets here,

one forms galactically internal legalese.
The willows go mass-hysterical,
dragging their bodies down.

There is a teeter, and talk somewhere
of legal easement, and then a flush
of waves. Then it’s time

to stirrup in and lean.
I am racing along. I am in the current.
I am knee-deep not stirring up the water.



The Sloth

Her back is an ecosystem,
algaeic and wrapped
beneath a canopy’s sun.

Arms forever up and out
above her head—she is 
this tall. No height,

no dangers below,
will blanch the beast; 
she sees no fear.

A fall will seldom kill her.
Nun ordained to pliancy, 
she’s slowness made devotion. 

The monkeys run 
right by her, skitter-shows 
their onus; harpy hawks

with sudden plucks
plunge, their hunger flown.  
It is true she cannot walk

—when basic need or poor luck
grounds her, she’ll have to 
pull herself along the muck

of forest floor. So she hangs, 
even after life, from branches, 
fool-like, face to sky,

her backward-growing 
coat a woolish habit.  
Even at the tops

of trees, she blends in.  
She is cool, and shy seeming;

Her cry’s a sure  ai, ai.



San Simeon Hill Zebras

Drifters, if they could be.
Sometimes, when they think
no one is watching,
they near the barbed wire.

Hooves and hooves and hooves.
A silent choir, a mass
of muscle-held cellmates.

Their heads are full of high grass 
and long shadows. They dream 
of lowland lions grifting gazelle. 

Behold the moiré bolting
of the chain-gang jumpsuits
—dust and dust and dust—
safe in their target-striped caps!

C. J. Sage’s poems appear in The Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Threepenny Review, etc. The San Simeon Zebras was published by Salmon Poetry in March 2010. Sage edits The National Poetry Review and Press and works as a Realtor. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.