June 14-20, 1999: Michael McNeilley and D.W. Bohn

Week of June 14-20, 1999

Michael McNeilley and D.W Bohn

Michael McNeilley



Michael McNeilley (Aberdeen, Washington) was one of the three judges of last years Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest His poems and stories have appeared in hundreds of print and electronic publications His new book, Situational Reality, is available from Dream Horse Press, San Jose, CA.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by
Michael McNeilley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Except for the Sound of Snow

you are drawn by what appears to be
a yellow circle in the haze of distance,
but as you move past blackened winter trees
the spot takes form, at last resolves into
a golden square of light, seen through
falling snow the light is from a window, lit
by what could be bright candlelight,
a flickering illumination that attempts
to cast itself into the dark, as if driven
by some pressing need you see a shadow
in the window, and though it is difficult
to focus through the snow you recognize
a woman sitting there, backlit by burning
amber light, and as she moves you notice
a small gray cat jump up onto her lap the cat, the woman seem to stare
together into the quiet fall of snow and as you watch, a small blue bird
flies past between you and the light,
unnoticed by the woman, whose gaze
into the distance does not shift, but
traced in every detail of its flight,
the pull of wings, the glide between
strokes against frozen air, by the cat the blue bird seems to slide through
flakes of snow untouched its feathers
the blue of distance against the light
and its reflection on the snow,
a curtain frozen now in space and you are certain you can hold
this moment still by thought, captured
in the golden cage of what is known,
keep it ever there before you, as you do
your history, your present, your future
in the same small frame the woman
does not see you the cat sees nothing
but the bird the bird sees not the snow,
but the path of air it follows to its nest and all around you bare black limbs
of winter trees reach out to you,
would hold you close, strain to
brush against your skin

It Scars Them for a Long Time

The mother tree burned more than two hundred
years ago; the second generation stands
in a ring around the spot, where she
left them in a circle round her skirt,
and they’re at least that old, born after
the lightning fire that brought her down
And there’ve been many fires since, always
there will be fires And the mother’s tall
children have their scars from these, twenty,
thirty, forty feet up their sides, slender
beautiful scars that taken of themselves

appear as works of art Most of these scars
face the spot where the mother tree stood,
though they are from more recent fires,
from perhaps about the time of my birth,
or my father’s, or his father’s birth
Now in a ring some eighty feet across,
they form a cathedral two hundred feet tall,
though from here it can be difficult
to gauge their height, you think
you’re looking at the top of them, but

you are not And from our low perspective
which is not their view of things,
a perspective they long since rose above,
from here it seems they lean in together,

as if sharing secrets, or listening to
the wisdom of the mother’s ghost, whom
if we could hear from our spot on our
own small and distant ring might speak

to us as well of where it is we go,
where we go from here.

What the Card Said

“hard as all this
is right now
not having known her
would have been so
much worse”

and I sent
plants instead
of the usual cut
flowers the spray
the arrangement
the wreath
though the plants
have flowers

but those too
will fall
as this is the way
of flowers
but still there
will be
green leaves

and you can water
them give them
enough sun
and look at
them later
keep them for
a while

a little
plant food and
they’ll reward you
more flowers
will come
if you remember
to look at them
now and then
as they need this

if you talk to them
place them by
the window looking
out mist them
like light rain
if you want them to
you can make them
if you take good
care they will
just live

In This Room It Is Always Summer

as she dances across the bed
to her music of spheres
and planetary rings

she flips her long hair down
straight and fine then up again
a web to catch the moth I am

a little face peers out at me
from the dark forest of her hair
monkey in a palm tree

and she is as quickly gone and I
write this down but now she walks
toward me in white lace

pink shadows through the net
she turns and I am black bear
watching from dark cave

I am silent as she moves
toward me a jungle cat
dressed in the smooth weave

of her skin four silvery
rings and all her hair is soft
and baby fine and there

is nothing in nature to
compare this to no perhaps
high clouds at dawn and I

am wolf I am lion hungry
I take a small pink bud between
my teeth in silken darkness

but she dances off again
a colt on slender legs her
laughter orbits my dark star

stands in silhouette on window
light then is as quickly gone
sudden as bursting clouds

and like summer weather she is
changed again but dancing now
a sweater like soft fur

flips her hair then up again
and this time brown wings flash
hawk rises settles watches

then back into her dance
unconscious grace rhythmic as
the room moves with her

dances as a doe across a meadow
laughing back at the wolf
who lags behind

the cold outside cannot come in
and I would hibernate in darkness
but so much is to be done

snow out summer in as past
the window the sky drops the tiny
diamonds she will walk upon

She Says They Prefer Rainwater

I come here to look at the orchids I cannot buy one, I could never properly
care for it — it would only die And
where you are I cannot give you even
a corsage, though I know you would
keep it in the refrigerator, not wear it,
make it last So I watch the orchids, if
simply for myself The owner of this
flower shop no longer seems to mind
this — she loves them too, knows in
some small way they live for this
appreciation This tiny pink one
in particular — the petals, the throat —
I should not think of this, but I must She says they prefer rainwater,
that the heat and humidity must be
just right I want to touch them, but
I cannot I want to crawl inside, or
only to think of this This is what
remains of you for me, less than
I ever imagined, more than I can bear
to forget They thrive on a light mist,
a measured quantity of light, but
in truth they belong far from here,
yet here they are, blooming away
their lives — a simulation of what
their lives should be, but their
petals no less beautiful here than
there, as best we can know This
is the space we have come to, this
is their cage of glass, and mine.

Your Hair Brushing My Shoulders

I woke suddenly last night, I must
have just fallen asleep you were bending
over me, your thin arms on either side

of my head like a barred window I could
feel your warmth, smell you as you leaned
down to kiss me, the color of you in candle

light outlining the cage of your hair, the box
I would have you keep me in and at the touch
of your lips I was wide awake, startled up

from sleep as only I would be, my always
too-rational mind unaccepting, some foolish
question on my lips instead of your breath.

D.W Bohn


D.W Bohn is a lifelong poet who only occasionally summons up the courage to submit his work for publication In spite of his reticence, his poems have appeared in such journals as Poems Niederngasse,  the Dynamic Patterns webzine, and the Realm of Philosophy’s Haiku Gallery He lives with his wife and two sons in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Dave Bohn and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

New Worms

slithering through loam
still unaware that such things
as birds may exist

The Horse Tamer

in dreams she tames wild horses
the ordinary ones are immediately compliant
after she mounts them
even the fiercest bear her willingly
and soon become docile beneath her

leaning forward
she cleaves to their strong necks
as she rides
whispering comfort into their ears

they bond until it seems
as if the horse’s head and neck
and flowing mane
have merged with hers

Different Water

we take great pains
to ford the river
at the exact same place
every time

but every time
the water is different

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