Please note that all poems on this page have been previously published but are copyrighted © by Ann E. Michael, and are subject to copyright law; however, under the collective commons agreement, sharing for personal or educational reasons is acceptable. Please consider purchasing one of my books! There are many more poems in them (see “Books” page). The links at right offer more of my work, much of it more recent than those posted below, in various online publications; I have posted the poems “Water-Rites” and “The Atlantic” on my blog, as well as the occasional haiku or tanka–so explore the site and try a few keywords in the tag search box! I hope you’ll find something you like.
No White Horses
Over the ring’s oval,
leaving u-shaped smudges,
casting a shadow thirty hands high—
my daughter, riding a white horse,
is distant as sunset.
A rim of gold traces her profile;
gold, the flanks of the old horse
patient under her
light, bobbing form,
gold in the tail’s loose curtain
closing before dust and flies.
She’s explained to me
there are no white horses—
equestrians use other terms
more descriptive and less pure
the mare I have called white
in this poem
is technically a grey
and I exasperate her exactness,
I’m no horsewoman,
and I forget. But the mare—
for all that she is grey—
glows no less at sunset
beige powder clouding
and rising into gold against
the reddening, and darkening, sky.
Sun draws a bright finger
down my daughter’s hair:
unruly, vining down her back, over the mare’s
rump, tail, haunch, hock;
gold dust-clouds ascend past
my daughter’s boots, her knees
her own trundling rump as she learns to post.
A mist of yellow separates me from
the small girl and the white horse
that is neither white nor grey
No Long Farewells
The weedy field.
On the rise beyond,
armies of brown corn,
ready to fall.
Willow looses streamers,
I look at my hands,
fingers gold. We
walk past grapevines.
Later I think of this day
as a drafty barn,
sun on its walls,
clouds high beyond rafters:
Nothing blocks our vision
for once. No blinders.
There is little time
for long farewells.
A light goes on.
The bus is leaving, now.
Moon follows you home.
The Red Queen Hypothesis
So here you are again, where you were an hour ago,
a day ago, a week ago; you can’t move on unless
you’re moving twice as fast, and there’s no such thing as slow.
Breathing hard, when you look up, you cannot help but know
nothing has changed. You might have guessed.
For here you are again, where you were an hour ago.
How do you get ahead? Whom to follow?
Knowing, as you do, extinction comes of rest,
you move twice as fast when there’s no such thing as slow.
Momentum—that’s unquestioned, it’s the flow
of time—evolution rides on nothing less;
yet here you are again, where you were an hour ago.
No finish line. No race to place or show.
Hard work is stasis. Exceeded by the best
(who move twice as fast and refute the fact of slow),
change occurs only at the bitterest margins, low
and mean; beneath that rapid-paced awareness
where you move twice as fast, where there’s no such thing as slow
you’ll find yourself, alas, where you were an hour ago.
“In the domain of the human, all things are potentially words.” —Eric Gans
The flower pot and the volcano,
the sugar bowl with its cracked lip,
the subway car handle, an acre of wheat,
two cents. These are the nouns
we live by, stacked around edges
of memories, joining clusters
of adjectives and the constant motion
verbs make in any enclosed space.
No wonder our minds are noisy:
placemat, carburetor, zinnia, jug.
No wonder we share, laugh, fight, flee,
evolve, lactate, shiver, weep, sleep.
What we can build with every letter,
whole or broken, every word,
voiced or unspoken, meshing and shoring
endless possibilities crammed into
finite lives—bed and grave,
open and shut, between, between!
Floss, fountain, boudoir, bean,
you, I, we, kiss me. Our child
runs from us, twilight dwindles,
there are always losses, we died
for empty phrases, for words out of which
we made a world, named it “everything”
and knew almost nothing of it, though
we said and said and said.