Cold of daybreak
and we suck in our breath
gasp at the sudden burning in the throat
lungs filling with fire.

White as the ashes of hell
the silent earth waits
painted scenery
of an apocalyptic play;

air glitters vibrates
with small birdwings
and a glimmer of hope runs
through the veins of the morning

like quicksilver.

The frozen last leaf falls

A serpent’s tail poem for the Secret Keeper’s five word prompt.



Bawls the wind among the last leaves,

cleaves boughs—

bow poplar, bend willow,

snow will come soon,

moon says, beaming.

Teeming life in river slows,

flows to a different winter song,

longer than the spring leaping.

Creeping cold cracks bones,

hones sheer to the oozing marrow—

sparrow death so brittle and feather light.

Night spreads a sheet of spun frost;

lost summer wanders with a grey taste,

wasted brightness of petals

settles, but buds swell in repose,

frozen last leaf falls.

Cold, you said

Painting by George Wesley Bellows


Cold, you said,
And I was,
But not through lack
Of inner fire.
How could you feel the warmth
Through so many protective layers?
Cold I felt,
When the wind roared
Through the space
Between your hand and mine.
And the beat of your heart,
Like the distant drum
Of a retreating army,
Dies in the frozen wastes
You left in your wake.