Snag

by CM Downes Issue: Spring/Summer 2019
              —snag: a dead-standing tree.1

If prayers are answered,
save us from this era, Lord
of Forests, where thieves pack their mouths
with the name, poet, priest, and president—
their cavities breaking on wasted breath
as they feign
earned wisdom like shadows
that mix their shapes in the air, and hang
upon the walls of our cities—skeletons
thickening with carrion, grasses, and ferns.

            The world is now brittle arms of a milky stone-
            oak, once adorned with lanterns—
            hammered metal houses absent of resplendent
            rigidity, slicing into the land’s dark breast—

            sentience, long silenced by the weight
            of the ghost dog circling down on the darkening air.

[1] In many cases, the tree stops growing after some 300-400 years but remains upright for hundreds
more.


CM Downes

CM Downes has traveled the high and low places of the world, learning, writing, and teaching. He resides in a humble cabin that he and his wife built and share with their little red dog, Turkey. Downes received the Allegheny Review’s 2013 Poem of the Year (chosen by Sarah Arvio) and a Reynolds Award from Nota Bene (2011). He earned an MFA in Poetry from Seattle Pacific University, and he is a regular feature in the Pacific Northwest.