The dog was barking at nothing but the waning moon about to drop down from the winter sky into the snowfields that stretched away from either side of the rest stop.

We had started early in the still dark. So cold the snow squeaked in the driveway under the car wheels. The dog and I had gotten this far out of town on a country road I didn’t know the name of. Heading west.

He yanks me across the rest stop parking lot toward the field, still barking.

I remember everything: the photos, the arguments, the papers torn up and tossed. I let out a bark.

Oh, my dog Buddy, my dog now, you know, don’t you? You know.
Just find something, anything, and let go at it. We’ll pick the waning moon over snow on this dark morning.

Later, at a café, some miles on, I sip a paper cup of fresh coffee and wait for the pancakes to be put in the Styrofoam box. The dog sleeps on his bed in the car, bundled and patient in wool blankets.

I eat in the car, my parka over my shoulders like a cape.

I give a piece of bacon to the dog. Let’s go, Buddy. It’s almost light.

Each small town is a web of deserted winter Sunday streets. A train crosses tracks as we wait to leave one. A streak of orange and red lights.

The moon falls out of my line of vision in the windshield. The dog sleeps all the long road heading west. Prairie snow and a pale gray sky. All day to get there, Buddy. We have all day to get there.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Invisible Ink

We reached the open water at dusk.
Marsh-ringed and pewter.
From behind the low clouds
descended annunciate
all the people we used to be.
“We shall go,” they sang, “into the dark water
and wash away all the ugly things written
on our bodies.”

-Copyright Kay Winter

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It’s a Mad World

It’s a mad world
It’s a shook-up world
A world of large indifference
A world of shouted hate
Hate in bonfires of souls
Hate in small rumpled pieces of hope
Hope in long journeys
Hope in small feathered graces
Graces calling like a red birds among the snowy grasses
Graces like the edges of blue sky over the stormed plains
Plains that roll you off the edge of the world
Plains that give you room to consider everything

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Catch me as I fall

Whatever I promised you, I gave you.
You promised nothing and gave less.

My memories of disappointment flash now in specific images
that catch me as I fall.

The old coat that smelled like November rain
and cough drops.

The curl of smoke as I sat
on your back steps, waiting for you,
flicking ashes into a Pepsi can.

The back stairs to the laundry room,
aqua and gray in the fluorescent light,
hum of the dryer.

A series of winter nights
opening a mailbox,
expecting a letter.

Copyright Kay Winter

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I am dead, with Abdo,
beloved brother,
buried outside Rome,
along the Tiber,
on the road to the sea.

Princes, we never intended to
defy the emperor
with our secret faith.

But that night,
the night the bodies of the martyrs
called to us
from defilement at the feet of Saturn.

And so we went in darkness,
and took them,
Abdo and I,
and buried them,
in holy ground.

The emperor took us chained
to Rome,
sentenced us in the Senate.
We were defiant and secret no more.
The light of God shone through us
like light through air.

The day we were killed,
in the hot sun of the coliseum,
not even the two lions wish us harm.
not even the four bears wished us harm,
The two lions fierce, yes, coming toward us,
The four bears fierce, yes, coming toward us,
but halting,
to lay at our feet,

Copyright Kay Winter

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Tea and talk of traveling

Tea and talk of traveling
to long-remembered homes
in Prussian woods.
Up narrow lanes by sled,
muffed hands and fur rugs.

Tea and talk of celebrating
by the flames of a thousand candles.
Singing toasts with the stars shining through the window
Glazed fruit on tiered cakes
as white and vast as the winters.

Tea and talk of donkey carts
On paths higher up the mountain.
Struggling by instinct through the snow
to hunters, caught in the storm.

Tea and talk of the old cities,
carriages on cobblestones,
and waltzing, waltzing, waltzing.
Before the wars,
before the train stations,
and crowded ships.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Daylong Clatter

The torture is just the daylong clatter
in your brain and body huff and rush.
No faint scent of clarity.
Not even a little-regarded moment
to think of a house in the sun
where light comes through the same window
every evening.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Inconceivable but materialized
in modern worlds.
Without flash or false sparkle,
we appear and disappear.
Manifest as we choose
above shingled rooftops
and empty fields.
Angels singing
about death and wonder
with soundless wings.
silent fanfare.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Not love, but this

Most often it is not love, but this:
A long spring in a strange place
Watching a distant figure from a window.

Most often it is not love, but this:
A spiral where the spine would be
Promises that smell like August rain
The shadows of trees on calm water.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Dear Dunstan

Dear Dunstan,

We ride now in the dusk toward home, in the rain. What passes we hardly see through the train window. But I know, I have told you, that at last the weather will clear and we will step away from the train for a few moments. Stand together under the oak tree near the station, two towns away from home.
The leaves will be wet and fragrant as your grandfather’s tobacco and they will shine like the night coming down from the hills quickly toward us. The old wizards sleep there, we’ll say, in the hollows.
We will board the train again, your hand helping at my elbow. We will travel home, past wet fields, over the stone bridge, and arrive in the dark, looking with each other toward the one light shining in the home window.
From the seat next to you, love always,


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