Voices were long before the ears.
When the creek runs dry I sat in a culvert
under the road and the wind said
hush hush hush and I said hey how long
have you been saying that? It said
hush hush hush. So a long time, I guess.
My father talks to himself too.
The wind said hush hush hush.
His lips would move if I walked in a room
as if he couldn't keep something
he never wanted me to hear.
He doesn't want to be a father yet
I said. The wind said hush hush hush.
It's okay I said. I am bad at things
like that too, like mowing grass, weeding,
closing cabinet doors. The wind said
hush hush hush. I don't mean to be.
It's like washing dishes, it's not like
I avoid them, although sometimes I do,
but more like dishes don't exist
and never existed. Hush hush hush
said the wind. No, I don't blame him.
Hush hush hush said the wind.
When's the rain coming? I always ask this.
And the wind says, hush hush hush.
Okay. I think I'll stay a while.
The Dog and Pony Show
The poem has grown very tired
from all the bait and switch,
from the hoops and hurdles,
from all the splitting wood
and stacking stones. Come in
and hang your hand-me-down coat
on the nail, like a flaccid tongue.
Put your feet up on the table.
Tonight the coat has nothing to say
to the TV and the TV shrugs
as it always does and the poem
is tired as a star that has, for eons,
tried to reason with a rock. Tonight
the poem won't put on the coat
or get more logs to feed the fire.
Because it's tired, after all this,
of the wind and of always
being the one to walk into it, hand up
and squinting into its unfairness,
hoping for once you'd get up
Eric Greenwell was raised on the Mississippi River.
Winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and Recipient of Writing in
the Wild and Centrum Writers Fellowships, he was recently offered the
PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing Residency in spring/summer of 2016. His
poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Willow Springs, Lake Effect, and Rattle among other journals.