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JB Mulligan

  

after an ice storm

Laminate trees, greysilver elegance
of bowed branches against dark trunks.
Snow glazed with ice covers the ground;
fallen limbs, weeds and rocks break through,
and a lone, light brown bush
like a lion’s mane tops a small rise.

Further on the houses, in white tattered hats,
stand sentinel, dark windows watching the road.

Traffic is a slow roll down an icy hill;
the unhurried wail of an ambulance
(normally a small dog’s yipping)
slides past us. No way to hurry.

Ten minutes later, we pass a green jeep
upside down on the shoulder of the road.
A policeman stands by his car, blue and calm—
whether because the driver is safe,
or past all sirens, medicines or voices,
cannot be told: it’s gone too fast,
we’re back in our hushed and briefly
sympathetic lives, rattling newspapers,
rolling to our varied destinations.

A few moments later, traffic narrows
to a single lane. "Flooding on the road,"
the driver announces. Somebody
curses softly. We inch ahead.

  

  

moment of the storm

The derangement of wild roses in November rain,
petals spent and little change left, dried and fibrous
stems all shaking and rattling as the dog of the wind
grips and pulls—if they ever had a voice, it was red;
the religion of their scent has been betrayed, and rich agnostic
odor of the dirt rises in celebration; the lightning's shattered
illumination, tangled shards and shadows of bones and twigs
in front of bones and twigs, stretching as far into the background
as the future or the past. Then the grey world spins back into view,
subtle variations of emptiness as much as being, like the times
you spend working and walking, when the next most vital
moment is still in the sky, or waiting in the roses or the woods.

  

  

expectant

Sea gulls drift like snow flakes
to a crescent on the shore
of the wind-ribbed pond.

Tufted water flows.
The wind is vigorous, busy
with flags, bare branches

and clots of clouds
in the blue sky,
sweeping, sweeping winter
into a hint of spring.

Two geese glide by
like bombers. Further on,
they drop their cries,
loud on the cold air.

Then settle on the water.

All around, the world waits,
grey and brown, trees
and mountains, waiting.

   

JB Mulligan has published poems and stories in Rearview Quarterly, Copperfield Review, Amaze, Comstock Review, Glass Tessseract, Brutal Imagination, and others. His chapbooks are Stations of the Cross and This Way to the Egress (Samisdat Press).
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