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M.P. Jones IV

ON THE FIELD OF CATTLE BONES

 

Ruin in the soft pasture

emptiness of the field at dawn

 

parts coyotes picked

could never be put back

 

scattered sun bleached

color of cigar stains

 

absent mandible silent skull

ceremonies of scapula and femur

 

afternoon collapse

the movement of form

toward loam

 

what after life is this green moss

with the temperature

 

rising like the sun

over the grinning towhead

 

who stands on morning hills

and turns the riverstones

 

to watch tiny gods

dart through the black water.

 

 

PRAYER FOR THE GREAT DOG: CENTRAL ALABAMA

 

Beyond midnight, we move along the lake’s rim

in the light of a moon so bright that shadows fall

around us everywhere. In such a spectral landscape,

any movement in the dark trees is green thunder.

 

Across the starry surface, mist rises in long wisps

and resembles white snakes climbing like angels

into the silent sky, and in the distant pines,

 

far off, our house appears as if on fire

with bulb light, the orange glow offers

its familiar beacon. For a while, we stand afraid

to interrupt the silence which swelled until it filled

the lake and the green hill and the dark trees.

 

The moon lies motionless in the lake’s exile.

 

All at once the yearlings are everywhere around us,

stiff as young stalks in the wind. They seem so unafraid

as they amble and linger up the hill in the wounded way

that deer sometimes move through the trees.

 

I can believe in death, for just this moment.

It is enough to stand on this hill, with the lake burning

Orion’s fires so brightly it is as if we are only shadows

 

passing through darkness, as if we are only a dream

the young had outgrown believing, or perhaps they

are the dream and we are the children

moving for cover through the cold winter night.

 

 

THE SILENT THRUSH

 

When the echo returns

from the lake’s rim,

shadows edging

in the darkness that is

neither morning nor night,

far beyond the mossy

bank of emptiness,

I’ll drift

like the fledgling

who danced outside

my window

all that afternoon

and then flew on

not knowing

to where or when.

 

 

A fifth-generation native of Auburn, Alabama, M.P. Jones IV is a Graduate Teaching Assistant, studying American literature at Auburn University where he runs errands for Southern Humanities Review. He is also founder and editor-in-chief of Kudzu Review, a Southern journal of literature & environment. Recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in Tampa ReviewCanary MagazineTown Creek Poetry, Cumberland River Review, and in divers others, memoirs in Sleet Magazine and decomP magazinE, an article on W.S. Merwin’s recent poetry collection, The Shadow of Sirius in Merwin Studies; and he has penned book reviews for Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the EnvironmentSouthern Humanities Review, and A Few Lines Magazine, and a collection of poetry, Live at Lethe (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013). He is interested in pursuing a PhD in American Literature in fall 2015.​