Two Poems | The Mowers & The Cricket

The Mowers

The mowers are at work on the hillside,
cutting brush with string trimmers and chattering saws,
and a haze of dust rises up around
the crew as they labor, sun gleaming off
their protective visors and their white helmets.

There was too much, deadfalls and brittle
choke-weed, and the more it rained
the deeper the crowd of thistles grew.
This is dynamite for fire, the foothill
of wick-dry brambles, and all the long noon
the mowers sweat until the severed
chaff lies withered white,

the land losing its
vetch and wild peas along with the long-spent
lupine and the exhausted clover,
none of it life, now, none of it promise,
leaving the cropped-bare bedrock,
cutting the tangled multitude
to the air we breathe.


The Cricket

Outside beyond the porch rail
one cricket has begun,
on and then on, a shrilling that pure repetition,
pin-point sound by sound,
turns at last into a gritty,

dry music. And from this sing-song
the neighborhood rooflines and the alley down past
parked cars and the dumpsters take on
a three-dimensions night used to promise
but lost. Here, says the brittle,
invertebrate voice. Here.

And its smallness punctures the abyss
of the stairway down into the invisible lawn.
This voiceless speech
needles the windless dark
and the distance between this airless kitchen

and the city around is greater than before,
but profound and spacious,
altered by a tuneless call where
something wants to live.

Published in the September 12, 2014 issue: 

Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books. His new collection of poems, The Promised Rain, is in private circulation. He lives in Albany, California.

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