Letter to America, Poem by Gary Short

Letter to America by Gary Short

One Poem

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Kaleidoscope, Mischief, an Offering

I thought it was a bed of wild poppies, but it was
A kaleidoscope of butterflies swarming a dead deer.

Driving Highway 341 between Mound House & Silver City, Nevada,
You witness a crime. Comstock Mining, Inc. murdering the earth.

The crow’s wings flap like the flutter & snap of prayer flags.
The immodest task of trying to figure out God.

I don’t recall coming across the word incarnadine,
& now have heard it once & read it twice in three days.

Sunset: I can’t decide on a color to describe the sky.
And neither can the sky. It keeps changing its mind.


Adam awoke to a feint fragrance of apple blossom
Nearly as imperceptible as Eve’s navel.

I want to pause three seconds         to remind myself & you
That someone somewhere is being tortured at this very moment.

The Cormac McCarthy horizon: the sky blood red
& lively pink. As of the flesh. Incarnadine.

One crow is mischief, two crows a conspiracy, three crows
Glide into the dense green of the pines & four sparrows disperse.

The eloquent blue skies of the Florentine painter Giotto.
I’m wondering if the sky was bluer in 1302.


Number of sharks killed every hour by people in 2015: 11,147.
Number of people killed by sharks during that year: six.

As a boy hunting with my father. “Pull the trigger,” he said,
“Between the heartbeat & breath.” Mine or the doe’s, I thought.

We talk to the dead more than they talk to us.
The crow is darker than its shadow.

At the Mt. Everest summit, Sir Edmund Hillary planted a British flag
While the Sherpa, Tenzing, made an offering of flowers & food.

I was trying to recall the apocalyptic ending supposedly divined
In the Mayan calendar for late 2012. Apparently we survived.




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.

Header photo by JordyMeow, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Gary Short by Brett Hall Jones.

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