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after Howard McCord


Some signs have the odor
of sand, rise up and settle back
after floods like river stones.

In Baghdad, ragged children
glance down alleyways
where birds whistle like munitions.
Something going swiftly swivels to a fate
bound by goat-thread and steel.
Mountains disappear
once their peaks are numbered.

The day unfurls--a leaf´s veins--
revealed. Intuition is of little help.
Logician´s ashes, forest fires,
all possibilities ride,
like history, in thunderheads
and wind.

Each emergent moment glitters
for the soldier-- trajectories
of flame leap into his lap, curling there
like a gaunt cat.

Some signs flicker in rain and storm.
Others must be pried from the talons
of poisoned birds, implied from blues riffs,
or inhaled like singed rope.

Obvious signs are the hardest:
headlines, titles, a gravedigger´s handshake.
They demand both doubt and respect.
It is why the blind excel in song,
why tremors reach the lame dog first.









Bill Yake lives on the lip of Green Cove Ravine, a mossy second-growth retreat outside Olympia, WA. After spending over twenty-seven years investigating air, sediment, and water pollution, he recently retired to focus on writing. His poetry has appeared in various publications, including Wild Earth, Wilderness Magazine, Puerto del Sol, Rattle, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment, and Willow Springs.

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