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Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Stuart Bartow


The weather girl and soothsayer agree,
a storm is coming. Gone mute, the crows all
glean and disappear. Lie down near sleep,
surrender until body and storm fuse.
Like a runaway, slip into the squall
and sing inside oblivion’s loom. While
the wind spins snow into warped cocoons,
banish the mind as secretly as birds
or all the dusty legions of moths after frost.
Before the storm appears, home one star,
Deneb, to navigate, to drift with, destined
to become wind, migrating like monarchs,
black-veined, wings like sails into night’s mesh.

Reasons To Hate Birds

I hate birds because
robins in the morning
are so joyful
their lilt makes me homesick
when I’m home.
When a flock of sparrows
spins like a whirlwind
my body vanishes
into their body. I hate
mockingbirds because they mimic
my dead cat’s plaint.
Who are the worst escapees from hell,
grackles or starlings?
I hate birds because they
can’t think. I hate
their yawning young,
their slurping worms.
I hate chickadees
for their horniness,
their twilight serenades, and because they are absolutely
innocent in their meanness.

Short-Eared Owls

Ghost faces, earless, those who unfold to hover
over frozen meadows, sleep in flocks, clouds
stricken motionless as we waited in the cold.
Aroused by dusk, mole hunger, they rose
like great moths, cowled in falls and sudden climbs,
wafting possessed by something cloaked by winter.
Mouse breath, weed ghosts, wings mute as unmade arms,
did we come to fix their startled faces,
find hexes scolding time, or banish alarm?

On Poe’s Having Ruined The Subject Of Raven For Ever

First off, ravens talk only to each other, not
to crows, not to humans, not even to poets
who wear black. Second, they really don’t care
about our problems with dead lovers
or even living ones, and given the chance
they’d have eaten Lenore’s corpse.
Next, ravens are not nocturnal.
They sleep at night
like us, or those of us who
are not poets, or insomniacs.
Ravens like to play.
I have heard stories about them hanging
by their beaks on clotheslines,
pretending to be laundry.
They like to slide on their backs
down snow banks. Perched
on eaves they brush snow on passersby.
Maybe, Edgar, you were once
one of those pedestrians,
a little drunk in Baltimore,
a girl’s picture in your breast pocket.