Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘William Sheldon’

Birdseed by Bill Sheldon

SheldonPicThe Ladderback Woodpecker

hangs from the underside

of the suet cage. Eleven

new chicks scratch the grass

in their pen as their mother

has shown them. Four

House Finches, scarlet

heads flashing

in morning light, take short

shifts in the birdbath.

Three new Bluebirds

follow their parents

into the mown field

beside our house.

The Song Sparrow chicks

in the nest in the rain

gutter cry hungry

when their father nears,

a grub in his beak.

The one Red-Wing

Blackbird that visits our yard

rests on the feeder. And then

amid all this

bounty, the epiphany

we have sought all summer,

there, at the sugar water,

the first Hummingbird.

~ Bill Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications. He is the author of three collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley, 2002), Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press, 2009), and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth, 2011).

Hunting Arrowheads on the Arkansas by William Sheldon

When the eleven egrets roseSheldonPic

over the river bend, green shrubs

even a droughty river holds—

just as the flock had a week before,

right before he saw the small Washita,

a white triangle in the pea gravel—

he might have, had he believed

in omens, egret deities, or other magic,

thought himself lucky, looked

for another point, that moment,

at his feet. Instead, he was only

gladdened. All day he saw

gravel and minnows, light

on the water. Only later,

moving back upriver,

did he indulge his foolishness,

cursing, almost aloud, the day’s

heat, the barrenness of the river.

He saw again the ungainly grace

of wading egrets lifting in late

afternoon’s sallow light. Their blessing

had been real. “Walk slowly, look hard

in the small gravel. Move on.”

~ William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications. He is the author of three collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley, 2002), Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press, 2009), and Rain Comes Riding (Mammoth, 2011).

11. To the Stars Through Difficulty: William Sheldon

The dog’s ashes sift a little lower
in the garden under evening’s arterial light.
Above, Venus calls in the west,
and the last flight of geese settles
in old man Moran’s pond.
Hunched and shuffling, he makes his way
to feed the old horse and graying mule,
a fortnight from the end of his wife’s
long fight.  Stars are winking now, but we’ve
difficulty enough on the ground.

– William Sheldon

132. Idyll

The dog’s ashes work their way

deeper into the garden’s soil.

This season I walk alone

the dirt road winding into darkening

sky. The horses no longer

come to the fence, and the wind

keens, “Winter is coming on.”

The rising moon

rattles the dry grass,

and below, the dead

continue their long work.

– William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

112. Between the Fall Grasses

and the fox’s cry—

like a woman screaming—

I hear the owl walk sideways on the branch

of the mugo pine

I cut down two summers past,

taken by bark beetles

and burnt that winter. Things are changing.

I can hear them in the smoke steps

of an owl who flew

into the tree, not seeing

me in the screen porch, almost

asleep in the gloaming,

in the movement of beetles

I almost hear in the pine.

The the fox,

one field west, its cry

frightening enough for me to cross

the road first time I heard it,

sure some neighbor or poor traveler

was meeting red death

in green summer’s grass. Now,

Then, I watched the owl,

who too had heard it all before,

shift himself, then

let loose his own great hoot,

as underneath him, beetles

took a better hold, and time

had its ways with us.

– William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

102. The Perfect Poem

would say only the words

sun and stone, stream and tree

and earth, yet it would explain

what I know of home

standing in late summer’s

hazy evening light, dust rising

and settling on this road,

under the smell of cottonwoods,

the last of the day’s

sun on this heart-shaped

leaf in my hand.

 

It would say only

the words fire

and flood, wind

and grass, yet

would capture my surprise

each spring at the turning in

of the compost,

last summer’s onion stalks,

cucumber skins, and grass clippings

now dirt. Stirred

in the wet heat

of last August and broken

by worms and coffin cutters,

they have all become again

that which they were,

the perfect poem.

– William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

80. Three Views of the Deity

The kestrel breaks fast below the lowest

bough of the pear tree, a nestling

in his talons, two kingbirds in pursuit.

And behind them, a raucous jay,

trailing, waiting for a chance.

In front of sun-spoked clouds,

above the too vivid green of the rain-beaten grass,

a cattle egret, blindingly white,

rows in silence through a patch of purest azure.

Below the cry of the kingfisher,

you walk upstream in chest-deep,

fast water, wondering at the foolishness

that led you to this chance and hoping

to make the bank, realizing that water

is the child of the lord whose mother

constantly calls it home.

– William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

53. Driving the Heart

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest: heat and light (professional category)

Of this country

on a day too hot for winter

and too beautiful to die, I watch

geese string across our southern sky

while the radio spools news: new car

bombs, polar caps melting, and west,

snow breaks a little our state’s long drought.

Once a man told his story: why snakes

lack legs and why you and I

must someday die. But, he said,

until we do, we may sit at the head

of this crowded table.

Many carry that tale

to their hearts, a kind of carrion

they can eat, growing fat

but never full, hungering

for a thing they have forgotten.

Robins come early now, and geese

never leave. Our seasons milder,

we have become their south. Doves

winter in the trees behind our house.

Northward, bears swim

searching lost ice. We drive

a narrow road, leaving heavy tracks.

The clouds ride full to our west.

Let us hope for snow.

Other tales tell of naming, a duty

I have often taken to heart, learning

to call the hawks who ride

our rich winds Red Tail, Cooper’s,

Sharp Shinned, as if such things meant

anything. Proud I have been

to own those words.

A cardinal crosses our road,

his red a constant vaunting. The air

waves fill, our leaders’ voices loud,

telling us we have everything to fear

and nothing to fret.

Heavy wind blows up from the south,

and the car pulls toward the ditch

not wanting to be steered.

– William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

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