Three Poems


we all heard him laugh 
in the instant after the blast

he thought he survived

then what he saw in our eyes 
and when he looked down

Coming to Light

A solitary light from a farmhouse merged
​with the path of my journey, as I drove alone

through driving pre-dawn rain. The wet sizzle 
of tires turning and the motor’s drawl surrounded 
me in my car and that room in the world.

​That sturdy light filling the window, moved my home
far, testing its comforts before I could reach them through dark. 

Was someone in that house up early or late, 
looking out or in over a cup of coffee? That wondering 
joined the history of things in my life 

that have passed too fast to be known, 
yet in their passing have shown  

me that even in the driver’s seat
I am a passenger, and even with wings,
birds can follow their song only so far. Just so,

beyond that one window and the two car beams 
boring through the dark, lay the road ahead coming to light.


A hollow pipe, wide and round as the muzzle 
of a grenade launcher, serves as a doorpost to my fenced-in 
garden. When wind blows across its mouth and this meadow,
it pipes a lead-steady, bassoon-like note. I think I hear it
in my sleep, and mistake its foghorn-drone for a call to arms 
and precious burden.

Before my stewardship here, that hollow-post hosted 
Old Glory, waving over this rolling green empire of mountain 
ash and clover. Back up in the woods, I dismantled a deer blind 
the previous owner hunted from. It was yoked to a maple tree trunk I tap 
for syrup at winter’s end. Then, with dead leaves, fresh manure and ordinary 
seeds, I coax a harvest of flags everyone can salute.

One evening, a tractor’s but-ah-but-ah-but-ah recalled 
the stutter of a hovering Baby Huey—taking on the bloody and the dead 
in poncho coffins and taking off, again, raising dust out of dust and leaving 
me among the lucky, all hollow as rifle bores. The tractor passed, pulling a trailer 
and its slow haul of hay, wounded into bales, from fields fire-tilled only by the sun.
I waved to my neighbor who waved back.

Here and now, the work and enormity of stillness and distance 
above ground are gifts each day gives, and the farmer, soldier and the land 
listen as pastor birds pare their songs and flights to the essential 
preparations for night. And over my garden, where fruit and vegetable 
buds flower patience, a one-note fanfare sounds: steady for the healing,
deep for those beyond.

​RICHARD LEVINE, an activist working to ban fracking in NYS, is the author of The Cadence of Mercy (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press), That Country's SoulA Language Full of Wars and Songs, Snapshots from a Battle, and most recently A Tide of a Hundred Mountains (Bright Hill Press). "Bread" a poem from the new book was recently featured in "American Life in Poetry," former U. S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's column. Levine's "The Talkin' Frackin' Blues" is on youtube,
The Adirondack Review