A native of Johnstown, NY, I retired in June 2016 after 29 years of teaching writing and literature at Ripon College in Wisconsin. I've published six collections of poetry, including Stutter Monk and Second Wind; I also co-edited (with Kate Sontag) the essay anthology After Confession: Poetry as Confession. Essays, reviews, and individual poems have appeared widely, both in print and online. In recent years I've spent nearly as much time on photography as poetry. A gallery of my work is online here: http://instagram.com/doctorjazz
The Green Man
He’s never facing the path.
You have to break through
some thorny bushes reaching
into the open sunlight and
enter the cool ferny dimness
beyond. You’ll step over
an almost-soft fallen beech,
stumble up a slope thick with
roots to find his rancorous face
peering out from the gnarled
bark of an oak. He’s not glad
to see you because he doesn’t
see you, any more than
the stream sees its stony bed
or the doe regards a worm
beneath her hooves. The Green
Man has been here longer than
God. And if you say that’s
impossible I won’t argue.
You’re right. But it’s still true.
The scientist on the radio says
viewing a partial eclipse
is like taking your family
90% of the way to Disneyland--
no rides, no cotton candy, nothing
but a loud sweaty ride in the car
with Jamie, Emma and Todd
fighting over the window seats,
and Jamie finally having to go
into a timeout after punching
Emma on the arm . . . .
Well, he didn't say all that, I admit.
But what else is there to do
but embellish? I'm not driving
thirteen hours of baking asphalt
just to spend two minutes and
forty seconds in the moon's
swift-moving shadow. Sure,
it'd be cool to see stars at 2 pm,
feel the air chill, and most of all
watch that dark shadow zoom
over the landscape like special effects.
I'm sure it would be totally
Or would it be like one swallow
of the last whiskey in the world?
No, I'm going to muddle around
today in partiality, as will
millions of my fellow earthlings
too busy, sick, strange, or poor
to travel toward that uncatchable
darkness racing time.
If it's sunny out it'll get briefly
overcast, but not much different
from cloud cover. If cloudy,
well, I may not leave the house
at all. God will have to do
better than that for me
to drop on all fours and howl
in the dirt, I assure you.
©2017 David Graham
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF