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Sample Poems by Bonny Barry Sanders


This is the house Song built with tools the shape
of thoughts, windows to let the sky in,
a door to keep the raccoons out, thatch for the roof,
salt-grass reeds woven into carpets,
and thistledown to insulate the walls.
Song set the house on a foundation of oyster shells,
named all the trees—beach, sassafras, black locust,
tulip poplar, hickory, white pine, spruce,
and all kinds of oaks. Song said to them,
You must guard the property line day and night.
He attached the idea of love to the stamen
of seven wisteria blossoms. Wind blew the scent
through the rooms. Song built the house as taut
as a spider’s web, as tough as a turtle’s shell,
as bright as the wren’s voice that settled into its rafters.

He lined all the paths with mayapples, jack-in-the pulpit,
Dutchman’s-breeches, lady’s slipper, bloodroot.
Song rolled out a carpet of ivy for the lawn.
He found a mother and father to keep things in order,
children to play with moonsticks and water bells.
They all moved in. Children came and went
like heat lightning on a summer night and the whistle
of the wind led them home to supper.
Song brought a piano for the children to learn
the ivory and black keys. Music became the nexus
of their days, and the strings of their trust were tuned
to the insistent melody of birds. Then Song said
to the children, This house will be the furniture
of your mind when you leave, and will remain
with you all the time you are away.

First the gentle light,

then morning
seeps through the shades
with the faint warble
of wrensong,
warms the room
with the tide of summer rising.
Footsteps in the hall
the house awake.

His Shadow

falls in front of me as he hovers over—
his wing-span silhouette magnified
with the sun behind him.
No bird sends a shudder
through the deserted woods
like the red-tailed hawk.
Not the vulture, not the owl,
not the red-shouldered hawk
nor the eagle. Scissors-of-doom
propel him low, silent, fatally smooth.
For months I have searched for him
through the camouflage of leaves.
In his presence there’s no shotgun stuttering
of the cuckoo, no moaning of the dove,
no hiccups of the cardinal or caw of the jay.
Squirrels hide in their nests.
Only silence he leaves in his wake
like the dread of dark cities
before the bombers came.


At midday through
I’ve seen the osprey hover above cross-
cutting currents that form small
sun-shot waves glistening like bullets.

He treads air as if
In midlight, his formidable
wings work like the hummingbird’s.
He holds position longer

than I can hold my breath,
for the fatal command.
When it comes, I’ve seen
him dive:

the surety of dart
    for target,
the explosion of hydrogen & oxygen.
What tempts me to hover here deluded,
thinking no other targets exist?