I am reading Roth on our wrought iron bench,
his Everyman remorseful in my hand.
Regret with every breath these days—neighbors
unmet, the divorce, talents left fallow.
In later years can anyone look back
upon a slate so clean he still stands straight?
The Beltway roar subsides to hum. Above,
there’s cricket-squall and clacking jointed rail.
A doe appears and picks her way along
that fancied line dividing mine from what’s
my neighbor’s. She worries mulberry buds,
wanders unhurried, lips brushing the lawn,
lingers at the spoor of fox and possum,
raccoon, cast in furtive morning dashings.
She glances, seems to consider this weed-
whacked yard, seems to warn that I’m at the edge.
In her company, I foresee the day
when I will reach out for what light remains,
what air, close to this earth in which I root,
a blade she nuzzles, takes as hers, carries away.
Listen to Greg McBride read this poem:
"Snow Paralyzes Buffalo As Winter Arrives Late" — The Washington Post, December 28, 2001
How could he miss the threat in the closing
low gray sky? Had he run out of steps?
Perhaps his blunt, directed mind recalled
some warmth, some joy in the gallop of the herd,
that great black carpet undulating plains.
He must have known years of snow,
flakes slanting as if thrown like stones
into his ageless eyes, onto his brow,
his matted beard. This time, perhaps
he’d got his hopes up, perhaps he’d been misled,
the way the crocus and the daffodil
miscalculate an early spring.
The wind-blown snow picks up, his hooves dig in,
and the cold’s a creeping vise upon his bones.
He hunches on a rise to watch the vast
and quiet grassland and knows he’s ranged
too far from granite clefts or Dakota
cottonwoods. He’s patient as his nickeled
image lying worn on a long loblolly bar.
Sixty million gone: their tongues to the hungry
and unspeakable; their scrotums laced
as pouches holding dice carved from their bones;
hides for saddles, stirrups, lariats;
beards for mittens. Blood for paint.
— Originally appeared in Legal Studies Forum.
Greg McBride won the 2008 Boulevard Emerging Poet Prize. His chapbook manuscript, Back of the Envelope will be out from Copperdome Press in spring 2009. His work appears in Bellevue, Gettysburg Review, Hollins Critic, Salmagundi, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He edits The Innisfree Poetry Journal.