Maple Leaf

Alone in a quiet park
off a country road
I wait in the dusk
for a crimson maple leaf
to fall
into the dark river.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Hat on a Madman

You were the hat on the madman
holding in the smoke thoughts
holding in the firecracker sparks

You were the hat on the madman
listening to the moonbeam siren
listening to the green spaceship summons

You were the hat on the madman
bursting
into sympathetic flames
of stellar love

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How Could We Know?

How could we know
that the severing hand would come at last
for her,
the last innocent among us.

How could we know
that by standing once
(when they said we should not)
singing once
(when they said we should not)
kneeling once
(when they said we should not)
that we would go this way
forever?

How could we know
that our defiance
made the passersby a part of the fight
whether they chose it or not?

How could we know
that the severing hand would come at last
for the final innocent among us?

How could we know
that we would hear them
nailing shut her door?

How could we know
we who planned nothing,
that when the light was gone,
when the moon was gone
that our dry hands, our bleeding fingers
would scramble into the wood
until the door was down
and we could take her back?

How could we know
that after that we were moving,
always moving,
through brown bracken fields at night
on forgotten roads in what had been
the heart of America
past relics of prosperity and hope and lies
in neon and weedy parking lots.

How could we know that
the last thing she would see
of freedom
would be the brown-edged petal
of a dying pink rose?

How could we know the enemy
had so many empty rooms waiting for us?

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Come Too Far

I have come too far
by dark cars arriving lightless
at remote and discarded crossroads

I have been picked up
and carried from one place to another
by silent drivers

The world outside
has ended
only a few of us were not false

The last driver left me here and disappeared
two or three days ago
Another one has not arrived

I walked here
to this boiling pond
to throw in the last of my lies
the fake passport
the airline tickets
the travel journal describing places
I have never been to
Paris and the sandhills of Nebraska

I remember a corner in Chicago,
under a burned-out train track
my last home casting
dark shadows on the blasted pavement

The first of the dark cars arrived, waited
I had been valuable
worth saving.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Pacing

That room sticks to me like a shadow
the pacing accusations in the mirror
the time wasting slowly across the wet windows
this end to that end to this end to that that end
the long hall outside
the shuffle outside that would stop
and move on

Those years stick to me like shadows
the fretful worries in the worn rug
the dust left at all the edges
that corner that corner that corner and that corner
caged problems with no answers
the trees bending down in rain outside
waiting to spring back

Copyright Kay Winter

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Finally I Understand

Finally I understand
that the wild wood paths
call and light back the moon
unasked.

Finally I understand
how the lone trumpeter swan mourns
white and cool on the still pond
in a green shadow of night.

Finally I understand
that the love ungiven
from the silent,
from the pained,
crosses into such still places
and fills them.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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New Angels

Is there pity,
or wonder,
or both,
in a new angel’s first glimpse
of earth
looking back?

Does the blue globe pull its tides
on the angel heart?
Do the clouds reach outward
to catch at the white feathers?

Are the tears heard?
The shouts into the darkness?
The songs rising?
The catch in the throat?

Or is there at last,
and only,
the peace of silent space
and the Almighty beckoning?

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Octpowrimo Day 3: Death Metal

Death like metal in the window darkness stood waiting.

The weary man’s midnight sigh gone
in cough struggle, lapsing to stillness, let go.

And stars go along, eurekas go along
with the concert lights snapping off, one by one.
Memory of dashboards, bar jukes, basement stereo lights.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Octpowrimo Day 2: The Half-gone Ghost of Tom Petty

This is a wake
for the half-gone ghost
of Tom Petty
and the boy
who sang him to me
in the small tired
hours before Iowa’s gray light
came over the edge of the window:
“It’s all right if you don’t”

This is a wake
for the half-gone ghost
of Tom Petty.
Come around here some more.
The storm’s not breaking
and you won’t get out of Gainesville
with or without wings.

This is a wake
for the half-gone ghost
of Tom Petty
and the boy
in the corduroy pants
who tore him back to me
in the hope light
of a prairie morning.
“It’s all right if you do.”

This is a wake
for the half-gone ghost
of Tom Petty.
Let us wreck you,
break you,
run you down,
stand your ground,
not back you down.

The dark’s not breaking
and you will not get out of LA
with or without wings.

This is a wake
for the half-gone ghost
of Tom Petty.
We’re getting you lucky
We’re taking you on faith.
We are belonging you in the wildflowers.
And we run with you
until the end of the line.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Octpowrimo Day 1: How Did You Get Here?

How did you get here?
From the earth sprung willingly
from seeds divinely sown
willing yourself toward the sun?
Or from somewhere else?

Only in our common hearts.
Only in the sabbath fields.

Did the famine and shackle ships sailing,
the frozen flight (the most ancient among us),
the desert and wasteland walkings,
the night airports and abandoned luggage,
All recall the last shape of the same home forgotten?

Only in our common hearts
Only on the sabbath flight.

Did the tenements,
workshops,
sod huts,
cotton fields,
sugar beet fields,
reservations,
Become our homes
from our hard hands and torn bodies?

Only in our common hearts
Only in the sabbath home.

When we traveled on,
from dust bowls,
from lynchings,
from famine fields,
ravaged streets,
Did we travel the same ravaged road of hope?

Only in our common hearts,
Only on the sabbath road.

The sabbath road that still we travel
to ask of this place
(to ask of ourselves)
a common peace.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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