4th Annual Terrain.org Poetry Contest Finalist


Download poem audio in .mp3 format.

Order Odonata

This one stunned on the road,
with the biplane wings,
with the Day-Glo
segmented blue/green
abdomen it arched forward
when I carried it home
on a stick to show others?
This one with outsize
compound eyes, that spits fire
when it passes? Dragonfly, dragonfly.

That simple-winged one
on the shady streambank,
chasing gnats like dark scissors?
That smaller one with the metallic
pipecleaner blue midriff, flashing
into sunrays? Damselfly, damselfly.

These notebooks, these Linnaean
taxonomies. Something

darts by. The ears tell
the eyes. The head pivots.
The fleshy thorax follows,
this minor heart observing
from its slotted cage of ribs.




Download poem audio in .mp3 format.

Shad Run

These silver traces from the sea, silt
            browning velvet gills, roe bulging
                        otherwise torpedo frames, flashing

past mud-happy catfish, past the steel-clench
            of fish hawks, past the defunct deepwater
                        tobacco landing, driven upstream, white-

hot with their need to be. Climbing fish ladders 
            up Conowingo Dam, each wild leap counts.
                        Old-timers would bottom-drop flat nets,

wait, then yank, arm over muscled arm, so thick
            were April shad runs, so many their cast-iron
                        skillets sizzling with buttered, burgundy roe.

Out-of-state cars teem at Hill’s Bridge
            in hope the fish still will. Here where
                        morning mist marks the river a mile off,

two men with poles leave their pickup,
            white plastic bucket swinging empty,
                        a cooler for bloodworms and beer,

their gait towards the pier light,
            sideways banter just begun,
                        something splashing up ahead.




Mark McCaig lives with his wife and two daughters on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, due east and often downwind from Washington, D.C. His chapbook of prose poems, Lifelist, is forthcoming from Kattywompus Press.
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