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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Bill Gottlieb
Cobb, California, USA


A Snake

A rattler startles me; I startle it. It crosses the path, its trace of t for nature's terrors, territories, tales. It coils on a low stone and flicks at the still forest's heat—there is a person, a poisoner . . .

Who do you smell like, my sweaty walker, heaving from the steep? What ground-trodder tries today to mannishly live, my diamonded spiral nearby? When will my talented rattles turn you to trance, your older body discarded like my skin?

What I have to say is a day ago my wife was seven months dead.

I kneel on the trail, as if praying to the woods, the sky, grateful for any obvious god. Grief is like this year's leaf, heated and strong, yet not new anymore. And these trees endure, strong as the inward towers where I often stand to see the lovely past receding, and call like a secret creature into the night of thoughts, the bare dark of fear and sorrow, and conjure tears.

after a while
its I-like length of life
slides on and
I again
advance a narrow way

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