top of page

Slags of Cloud, a Cold Wind


clawing leafless trees as I walk toward home,

my head full of Bix Beiderbecke—

those clear cornet notes, easy and bright and sweet,

like a girl saying yes, someone once said—

and you’d think by now I would have learned

it’s pointless to ask more of life than life can spare,

and I ought to make my peace, though Bix

didn’t and damn if this wanting won’t stop,

this daggering, these February nights, my father’s

last breath thirty-one years ago, that evening

still fresh, thick as the snow that palled

our Kansas yard and the elms he’d planted,

the house he’d built, which at last was empty

of him—though not, never entirely, 

                              just as the not, the oh-please-never

of my son’s death hunkers yet in the gut

             of wanting.

                                                                If only

I could live like Zorba, shed of the past, of regret.

I’d guzzle my wants, wake up my last day

and step to a window, run my eyes to distant hills and sun,

my nose to a lavender breeze. I’d hear Bix and neigh

like a mustang. Oh, how I’d neigh.



                                            After Nikos Kazantzakis



Finalist, Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize

Appears in Crab Creek Review,  2021

bottom of page