One Poem by Gary Short

One Poem by Gary Short

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Plato, Azaleas, Bluebird

A shaft of sunlight on the creek; in the shallows
Three trout slip in & out of shadow, nudging moss-green stones.

The mathematicians tell us that there are
An infinite number of infinities.

Did I say July? My grandmother said, I meant 1953.
A spray of lilacs in a small vase.

I was trying to identify the little bird in the pine tree
That makes a sound like Plato crying in the forest.

Spooned together in bed, my arms around her, our fingers
Touching. I notice our hands are sleeping swans.


Old & twisted cottonwoods line the creek;
It’s their asymmetry that gives them balance.

Is there anything you have left undone?
Is there any undone thing you have left?

We lay down in our bodies. Such a nice place to be.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you…

Rilke words: star, puppet, mirror, rose.
Dickinson words: purple, soul, secret.

Did I say lilacs? I meant azaleas.
Did I say Plato? I meant Chief Joseph.


Silhouettes of horses returning to the barn at dusk.
A mountain bluebird sings a last song with his whole body.

It’s not ugliness or violence
That will break your heart, but beauty.

I don’t think I can bear it any longer, my friend said,
& I don’t even know what it is.

This evening’s sunfall is a literal translation
Of Dickinson’s poem beginning, The skies can’t keep their secret.

Let worry sleep; let hope dream.
Let silence have the last word.



Gary ShortGary Short is the author of three books of poems. Among his honors are a fellowship from the NEA and a Pushcart Prize. He recently taught at the University of Mississippi and in the Drew University low-residency MFA program. He lives in Panajachel, Guatemala.
Read Gary Short’s poem “Kaleidoscope, Mischief, an Offering” appearing in’s Letter to America series.

Header photo by Rachel Kolokoff Hopper, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Gary Short by Brett Hall Jones. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.