Demolition Trio

Withering by Sandy Schultz


Or days bounty exaggerated the labor’s strain
Grapes thread on a thigh

Has not thirst made the nectar run

And savory the acorn

My elegy is just ongoing consciousness
Trail maintained by flood

I wake early enough to see those whose work begins before heat
Heat precedes me





The Hopelessly Open Gate

Wind where the chimes will be

Beautiful, in a passing way
Thus, more beautiful the more it passes me

Much as those birds that never touch the ground

Is this tree the ground
Is fruit the ground





The Final Step of Transplanting

There’s little evidence of the bee’s contact with the blossom
Outside the blossom

By alternating crops, you make toil easy

Cardinal in some stacked panes, or in each of them

In my time travel dream, we agree to visit the present


Click here to read Zach Savich on the origin of the poem.

Photo: “Withering” by Sandy Schultz; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Zach Savich:

How did I write these poems? I got cancer. During recovery I couldn’t write, couldn’t think, could do little but stream TV and groan. So I began to keep a journal: note one daily observation, tie each day to a single bright particular, as evidence (to myself) that I was still alive. I saw some cardinals reflected in window panes on a neighbor’s lawn. I felt a breeze and noticed myself listening for windchimes. The world was still out there.


This practice represented a second kind of recovery: in the first poetry class I took, my gateway and conversion, students were asked to keep an Observatory log. Record one thing a day. Not a thought or memory, a live instance. W.H. Auden suggests that beginning writers should learn many languages and care for a farm animal. I think they should keep an Observatory. Try it for a while. You’ll see patterns in what you note. You’ll end up with a document more interesting than most poems, more interesting than most “ideas.”


Months later, somewhat steadier, I started forming my observations into poems. I wanted to preserve the sense of distinct seeing, emulsified delicately with other elements, embedded into something larger. One line is adapted from Virgil. One occurred to me—marginalia—while reading a poem by Jorie Graham. One describes a dream in which Jack Christian and I found a time machine and were arguing about where to go. We agreed to visit the present. I still agree with that decision.

Zach Savich
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