Two Poems by Ed Brickell

Hagerman Refuge

A cloudy day to see things for the first time,
Hiking trails with you past rush-bearded waters -
Furtive marshes sneak into open ponds,
Firewheels glow in grasses tall as men.

You always seem to spot the birds before me,
Dots in trees our binoculars barely reveal
As vultures, crows, gruff watchmen of this demesne,
And the lone bright of a bluebird, balanced on a trail sign.

We drift into an undeclared spotting competition,
As we often seem to do - 
Walking by a burst of green, I spy a ladybug and bee
Explore the same bud, curved under their weight.

You grunt in grudging admiration -
We share each other’s pride and envy,
Watching two beings struggle with their tiny lives
In the eclipse of our wondering shadows.

Later there are the Canadian geese, far from home,
The knotted riddle of a water snake.
Herons stab for minnows near the shoreline,
The sky, scalloped with tarnished silver, beckons rain.

We beat the storm home with only our memories
To capture the careful bee, the wary crow -
All this bright-to-dark world, 
Ghosting through our greedy eyes.

Fluid and Bone

She fought for every breath, her daughter said.
So did my wife in her hospice bed,
So did I, yesterday, alone in the kitchen,
My throat narrowing between coughs
Like a curtain closing at play’s end, 
Then opening again. Then a note from a friend,

Telling me a valve of his heart needs replacing.
It will be alright, I said, not knowing if it would.
It sucks, he said. These leaky sacks of fluid and bone,
How do they stay upright, stay hopeful for so long, 
Calculate the weight of a star, make children laugh
By hearing their dog, then howling along?


Ed Brickell lives in Dallas, Texas with his two cats, Harper and Maya. His work has recently appeared or will appear soon in Hiram Poetry Review, Willows Wept Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Last Leaves Magazine, Modern Haiku, Loch Raven Review, and other publications.