3 poems by Don Thompson


Skittering idioms of the insects

make sense to us.

More or less the same

wordlessness our nerves respond to.

You can hear it in crumpling paper,

inner ear static,

and the midnight clock’s tachycardia—

analogue for panic.



You’d think the birds have taken vows.

Sparrows feed under a maple this morning

with heads down like novices

in a strict refectory.

Even crows keep their own counsel.

Not one caw.

Last night by flashlight I saw a coyote

crossing a fallow field

in half a hurry.

When he looked at me, his eyes dazzled.

Fire opal silences shattering.



Ants must have their own eschatology

in which a crushing foot

comes down from heaven.

No mercy.  But for now,

these ants thrive in the dust,

loaded with bits and pieces

of a beetle—

trusting in exoskeletons

no more effective

than our own chitinous thoughts

shadowed by something immense.

About the contributor

Don Thompson's publications include Been There, Done That (2002), Sittin’ on Grace Slick’s Stoop (2006), Turning Sixty (2008), Where We Live (2009), and Everything Barren Will Be Blessed (2012). Back Roads won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize for 2008. Allan M. Jalon's profile of Thompson, “Planted in the San Joaquin,” appeared in the LA Times and remains available online.

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