Tonight There Are No Stars
Tonight there are no stars, there is no sky,
only yellow smudges from streetlights glow
like ghost eyes from inside the fog that lies
heavy laden like a melting cloud low
to the ground while gauzy silhouettes appear,
fade, vanish, regather themselves in a hush
like phantasms hovering in mutable air
beyond the scope of sound or realm of touch.
It’s why I like to walk alone on nights
like this: The edges soften, silence speaks,
opaqueness mutes what stirs disquiet, lights
awakening, as low-anchored mist leaks
onto my skin, into my pores, and thought
dissolves into a presence stillness brought.
Eight o’clock: Already the heat chokes.
Swarms of gnats hover over the slough.
A gator prowling beneath the surface pokes,
then slides along, the keel of the canoe
while a great blue, motionless, poses on a log
half-submerged in water the color of tea.
It unfurls its wings and launches with one tug,
rising to the mossy crown of a cypress tree.
A crew of quarreling sparrows takes flight.
An otter scurries for shelter beneath a mangrove.
A sandhill crane lets loose a rattling cry,
full-throated, primal, as the swamp begins to move.
I cannot see nor hear what it might fear;
although, it must be near.
In the High Sierras
When climbing in the High Sierras you learn
that timber lines are more or less approximate:
Branches start to sag like the shoulders of old men
in sparse patches of pines stooped from the weight
of winter snow, though now bare from summer’s heat,
where the forest thins and turns to chaparral
then to slabs of craggy granite that emit
occasional glints from specks of embedded crystal.
Summit in sight, first you notice the shadow
attached at your soles, growing longer as the sun
scribes an arc to the horizon, then begins to show
that blush-colored measure of time that comes
at the fringe of the day and says to find
some shelter for the night and from the wind.
James Green has published four chapbooks of poetry (Stations of the Cross, with Finishing Line Books; The Color of Prayer, with Shanti Arts Books; Barely Still, Barely Stirring, with Finishing Line Books; and Long Journey Home, with Georgia Poetry Society. His individual poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. He resides in Muncie, Indiana. His website can be found at http://www.jamesgreenpoetry.com.