The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Michael Lauchlan


Burnt hickory smell flavors

the grackle song, the whine

of engines climbing a road.

I turn from a river trail to face

a maple with a long memory.


Below the march of iamb, one

bell rings and has always rung,

one stream slides by, where a monk

dips water, where a song jumps,

bleeding, and a clock calls.


Two of us might get our arms

around it, pressing into its bark

to link hands around so much

time spent on a bit of earth,

girded, crosshatched by roots


and layered with story. We climbed

this trail in rain once, sliding back

with each step. I pointed out trip-

hazards until you yelled at me

and, muddy fools, we laughed,


fell, and fell again. Reach,

darling, around the maple.

I can almost feel your touch.



Late On Her Birthday


The light that left the sun just over eight

minutes ago flares now in your hair, rings

your face and floats above my scotch.


Years ago, on a hillside where the river is

whiskey, a man dreaming liquid smoke

sealed an unblended cask.  Some decades


back, your grandfather outlived strikes

in Colorado mines to marry, run a store,

and read the papers while he rocked you quiet.

Dead at fifty-nine, he was your first loss.


You speak of him as you drift off

holding my hand.  While the light turns

and turns again, I hold your words, watch

the sky's last splash, and drain the glass.

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