Had to shut the tractor down and take a break

in the humid shade of the orchard,

And in the buzzing, ringing stillness


The first nut fall…


calls the she-hawk,

coursing for the kill;

And black and white magpies

Flit through the floppy walnut leaves-

A wind of mad noise;

But I,

in the ringing stillness


The first nut



Open the box;

Take out a match.

Strike fire from the hearthstone.

Twist and turn the burning stick

With slow fingers and watch

Wettish red turn to crinkled black,

The curl of tortured wood

As flame creeps toward flesh.


Go out to the night

Cut to the wind and misted moon

Twist and curl, burning red and bright

As flame moving through flesh

Go out to the night

Sputter and burn

Though owls quest and dogs harry

And black cats twitch their tails

In wait;

Though moon moves quick to meet the clouds

And mist smokes from the creek

And muted birds delude the ear

With soft songs of the sun;

And though flowers flower

And leaves green

And the looming ridge frowns darkly on the valley

And echo-fingers run searching through the grass,

I pass safely

Wide grey eyes bedded like jewels

In my priestly body of the night.

I turn

And see ‘cross the dew-silvered field

The dark trace of my passage

my eyes wet

with grey regret



  1. Driving ‘cross the prairie
    on a childish winter day
    I saw the snow shovel fall
    by itself
    by the old school house door

    If I had not
    no one would have known
    it was ever there

    I saw it


    Spar Harmon, your poems make me want to try
    your word pictures are something
    the first half of the walnut falling makes sense to me
    I’m confused by the last half about living night
    Oh. It just occurred to me this is perhaps two different bits?

    You have indicated you welcomed dialogue so I’m taking that at face value. I’ve never known a real poet. Who was also a mathematician (and all that other stuff) before.

    • Yes: two different old poems reworked in my present mind and linked by an ineffable sense of association. Your shovel poem fits perfectly; why would you think to write it? Because you did, that’s all.
      In terms of craft, LIVING NIGHT is one of those perfect fusions of spontaneity and practice of craft and the original wrote itself smoothly in one effort. Without the preparation of practice, I couldn’t have written it. The end is like when you look back after breaking a virgin snowfield and regretting your spoiling its pristine perfection. Sense of sin, too. When I was younger and be up in the wee hours of night, tied in knots, raging, or whatever< I would fling my self outdoors (I have night vision) and tramp about or run or howl…then would come this sense of having committed a violation… but it did help me to be out..so absent an accuser but myself, I would let it go. Mathematicians, musicians, and poets: very similar sensibilities. I love the mathematics of shape and space. I sculpt cedar. Professionally I made things. Music and poetics are one really.

      I've responded to you in Chapel, also.
      Yours in God's Love,

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