Nurse log in overgrown forest

Three Poems by Daryl Jones

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Nurse Log

All soft underfoot, plush
of moss and that deeper, inner give

of moldering within, the slow
letting go of cork and cambium,

sapwood and heartwood, centuries
collapsing into centuries, ring

by ring, vascular rays
like stars imploding, sinking

into punk and pulp, pith
dissolving in the fetid fragrance

of pine and rot, the darkness
within darkness

from which the seed splits.




Neither the end of day, the sun writing
its epitaph in persimmon and plum,
when rabbits steal from shadows, hunker down,
and warily nibble the fallen fruit…
nor actual night, when the monkish moon inscribes
all edges, illuminates the text,
and, absent comprehension, decorates
a once removed, obscure copy of day,

but rather owl-light, that ellipsis,
dash, or slash between sunset and night,
that brief slurred interval when violet light
saturates and darkens like a bloodstain,
and time, old predator, shifts its weight
from one clenched talon to the other.



Bluebird Man

for Al Larson

A tuft of sky, that tremulous blue
startling in the corner of my eye.

And his—watery blue in the weathered face
of ninety-one years. For the last thirty-five,

he’s built nest boxes, set them out
on trails branching the high meadows like veins,

and tended them all summer, checking for eggs,
banding the peeping chicks, cleaning the boxes

for next spring when the first thin scouts arrive.
Who will do this when he’s gone, I wonder,

the whole species as vulnerable and threatened
as the blind nestling he’s cradling in his palm?

Reach out, he says. Here, hold it.




Daryl JonesDaryl Jones lives in Boise, Idaho. A former Idaho Writer-in-Residence and recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the author of Someone Going Home Late (Texas Tech University Press, 1990), which won the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. Recently, his poems have appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, The Southern Review, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

Read two poems by Daryl Jones previously appearing in

Header photo by SF Photography, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Daryl Jones by Danica Fiew. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.