r 4d

Mud, whiskey, death
and bad debts, the river's
high water, mysterious birds
flying south disappearing
like a youngest daughter,
no good men, bad intentions,
changing seasons, unexplained
pains, all of these are reasons
I've seen good women weeping
after the hardest rains came.

 5d r

with moonlight, he travels mostly
at night, past snoring hikers and embers
of fires that cooked their food, kept darkness
at bay, and heard what they had to say

if the coals could only speak, perhaps
he would find the right circle of stones,
a black heap of carbon that once glowed
red and gold, and her tale would be told

at least he would know the last words
she spoke in this wilderness--whether she
chose to vanish into the deep wood, fodder
for the scavengers

or was the prey of evil men,
who lurk at every turn--in bustling city
and quiet forest as well--vipers who strike
without warning, without curse or cause

when the moon's light wanes, he moves yet
in darkness, feeling his way, a nocturnal detective,
hoping to find what the others have given up
for lost and registered among the dead:

sign or scent of her--black coals or white bones,
a piece of tattered clothing, the canvas backpack
with her name, the hiking boots he laced for her
which left tracks he forever yearns to find...

"Inspired" by the brutal murder of a couple on the Appalachian Trail in the mid '80s. In this case, the forlorn searcher has lost a lover, daughter or someone he wanders in the darkness to find.
 7d r

there is a season
            of rebirth in any pattern of decline,
a miracle unfurled
      as darkness dies
              for the sun to shine.

there is a peace
                in reflection upon hard wars and fears,
love in my heart
          despite in my eyes
                     world-weary tears.
r 7d

I know her
like the back
of my hand
an eyebrow
under a cross
of ashes
the cloud
I followed
for so long
now I listen
on lone walks
for the song
of stones
beneath the creek
I once called
home sometime
so long ago
I can't remember
why I ever listened
to her at all.

r Apr 22

Last night
I lifted my head
to the sky
not so far away
like my dog on the porch
to the songs of the frogs
singing up a storm
I asked her, sweet mutt
of mine to interpret
their words
and she looked at me
as if to say
just listen my friend
they sing of the wind
and the pines
the ocean
that great saltwater dish
where we were born
and the coming
of a great tide
and how we should be
more kind
to our Mother
the Earth tomorrow
on her Birthday
they sing instructions
and warnings
of obituaries heard
in a thunderous warming
then she sighed
and closed her eyes
thumping her tail
in time with the chorous
as the moon
raised his great blind eye
up over the forest.

Earth Day 2017.
 Apr 21 r
Jonathan Witte 

Begin with

a bone,
a heart,
a home—

the pieces

and work
them over

over time

tumble and polish
tumble and polish

make the pain shine.

 Apr 21 r
Jonathan Witte 

The prison bus
passes this way

every now and then,
surfacing without

warning—a leviathan
of metal, grease, and glass

its dark windows secured
by squares of rusted wire

its diesel engine heart
spewing exhaust that

turns morning rain
the color of seawater.

The prison bus
does not stop
for stop signs;

red lights are nothing
but violent memories
strung in an overcast sky.

When the bus strikes
something in its path

the prisoners bounce
slightly in their seats,

lifted into
impartial air


by the familiar
of blood and laughter.

In his dreams,
the guard who
drives the prison bus
circumnavigates the globe,
plowing through clouds
of insects that shimmer
like fuel above the road.

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