Gerry LaFemina


Earlier, the sun turned around, began its long sojourn south.

The neighborhood dogs dream of sirloin & belly rubs.

Or else I’m projecting again, which has been known

to happen, particularly on nights like this

when a few glowing windows reveal shadow-dramatic scenes.

When the asphalt releases its exasperated heat.

When whatever wind the mountain exhales, ruffles loose

the last delicate scents of honeysuckle.

When a Northern Saw-whet circles for rabbit

then circles again, wings open to air streams.

Tonight, only a white stripe of skunk, nearly radiant

among the garden vegetables—

its slick, black fur smudged to inky night.

In a driveway, an RV shakes with adolescent laughter.

Hunger & more hunger—what motivates the beasts of the world.

In another century, another city, one redundant with distant light,

I would wake in my room, wanting—

my mother on the far side of the house typing dictation;

I could hear the muffled staccato of each sentence.

My brother & sister asleep. Staring at me from across the room,

the taxidermied owl someone believed the perfect gift for a child

talons open as if it might pluck from my chest the nightmares,

the longing, the very poetry.

How it might feast, then fly in a maelstrom of viscera & feathers

that I would learn to follow even into this latest of decades

for want of what had been taken.


GERRY LaFEMINA is the author of several books of poems including 2011's Vanishing Horizon, three books of prose poems, a short story collection, and Clamor, a novel. In 2014 Stephen F. Austin University Press released his latest poetry collection, Little Heretic, and a book of his essays on prosody, Palpable Magic. His textbook, Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically and a new collection of poems, The Story of Ash, are both forthcoming. New work has recently appeared in The Sun, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, and other journals. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he is an associate professor of English and serves as a poetry mentor in the MFA program at Carlow University.