Whispers in the Fog: A Tanka
The rain fell all night
and today, the garden seems lush again
beneath this dull dawn
as each saturated leaf
is free of the raging sun.
With summer at rest,
chickadees gather their seeds
while the pollinators flit
to flowers and sip the dew.
Today, the mist clings
to treetops, and a fog rolls
across swollen soil,
whispers respite to these bones,
wears this iron back to stone.
This summer’s heat swelters more than ever before
until our spindle-stems harden to stave a desert-thirst.
As this globe heats, the trees grow heavy, dust-filled,
smoke-screened behind the fumes of a thousand flames far away.
Sometimes, everyone else blossoms first while we
peak our sprouts up through gravel beneath mailboxes,
disguise ourselves along barren roadsides until the right time.
As the brutal summer tires, each morning becomes a new beginning
when dew condenses against our faces as breath.
Storms Over Mackinac
Thunderheads rise in the west
like mountain-titans drawing near,
preparing to go to war.
The straits are placid, inviting,
each ripple lapping at our feet
beckons us to stay a while longer.
Our phone flashlights burn like stars
against the twilight as camera shutters
snap an array of photos to capture this.
In the distance, the bridge stretches
like a dim-lit ribbon across the ashen sky,
a beacon warding away the oncoming storm.
As the freighters slice through the lake one last time
and the final island ferry docks, we take hold of this moment
and pay no heed to our ticking clocks.
Raindrops slink down stems until soil digests
nutrients, swelling into a saturated sod-sponge
while a robin sits high in a nearby ash tree,
singing in debate with the sky, “Let it rain”
and a young man types half-spelled novels
on his phone, listens to music behind a mobile prison
forgetting that the cages we build
become comfortable after a time,
after our bodies leave a skeletal imprint
in worn leather upholstery, outdated.
In our short time evolving, we’ve sacrificed
the abstract measurement of “moment”
for the hurried increment of time
as we pasteurize, sterilize, and cauterize
the world around us to fit our needs,
we, these avatars of industry.
Now, as raindrops slink into city-sewers
and pigeons excrete on our paved streets,
we exhaust ourselves with the chemicals
we’ve created, laboratory phantoms
devolving moments into increments,
shaping days into convenient puzzle-pieces
to quiet these unseen vacuous cycles
happening beyond and around these cityscapes
only to forget the encyclopedia of knowing
within each robin song, on each ponded leaf
Donny Winter is a LGBTQ+ poet, educator, and activist residing in Saginaw, Michigan. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Delta College and his first full-length collection of poems, Carbon Footprint, was recently released by Alien Buddha Press (2020). His forthcoming second collection of poems, Feats of Alchemy, will be released in October (2021). Winter is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Nominee and has poems in Sonder Midwest, Awakened Voices, and CultureCult. To read more of Winter’s work, visit his website: http://www.donnywinter.com or subscribe to his poetry YouTube channel, DonnySpeaks.