After Before


After Before

A return to that
time when silence

reigned. The neighbor’s
guinea fowl have long

departed, but three cedars
drop needles in the circle

even as reluctant growth
pushes out from the oaks’

limbs. Nothing circles
below the clouds, no

roosters crow. Feeders
hang still and empty.

The wrens remain
cloistered. You read

these events as separate
birdless chapters, all

hushed in the dappled
air, passages carried

yet confined by nearly
soundless threads

suspended from the
persimmon tree. You admit

a status as sentient
protein, one meal among

many, while you rest
and absorb

the soft ticking
of eighteen eager

juvenile mantises
on the porch screen.


42 thoughts on “After Before


  2. How fortunate! This morning, I heard a black-capped chickadee sing its Spring time song, and I can’t help but worry that our absurdly warm North East has confused the little creatures as fully as the crepe myrtle in full bloom a block away. But your poem, somehow, helps to ease my concern, or perhaps offer some perspective. I don’t know. But I thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Robert, I’ve been fortunate to come across your work. Always engaging my head and my heart with what you’re speaking. I appreciate your likes, as I feel ‘like’ minded with you in some ways. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Your own version of “birdless chapters” will emerge in time within the piece you’re creating. During the writing process, this poem became a vignette about “reading” the local circumstances, and once I made that turn, the phrase quickly followed. In general, I don’t know how I get from A to B, except a word or phrase pops up and I let it drag me along. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they go away. It’s all part of the process, which is often long and convoluted.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Once again, I love the line breaks and the internal rhymes and harmonies you create, Bob. “… three cedars/drop needles,” among several others, is pretty remarkable. You definitely have the gift of alliteration (and assonance and consonance). Fascinating, too, how such a quiet poem can be teeming with sounds, if a person takes time to note them, one by one. And, finally, I admire the unexpected word choices: e.g., “sentient protein,” “cloistered” wrens. All in all, a definite keeper of a poem!

    Liked by 1 person

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