Such a strange contraption—bellow shaped
thing with springs, sprockets, mechanicals
more awkward than a pterodactyl. And how
little evolved—a man who fell asleep
in the 19th century and woke up today
as rain began
would be terrified by everything
except the suddenly blooming umbrellas, so like
the one he carried on the boulevards of Paris.
Who isn’t chagrined to see one
stuffed inside a trash can, ribs snapped, cloth
flapping like a useless wing?
Or splayed in a gutter—parts exposed, humiliated
by its enemies—wind and rain and sun?
The one I left on my chair at the bakery
is found by another customer, who takes it
gratefully into the cloudy day.
Then forgets it on the floor of a cab
where it lies, little shadow, until the next
fare finds it and smiles at her fortune
when the hard, first drops hit the windshield.
Thus it moves—hand to hand, head over head,
time out of mind—practical halo
protecting each of us in our turn.
—From the poet’s forthcoming collection, Horse Not Zebra
poems have appeared in many print and online venues, including The Sun, Poetry, The Oxford American, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. The most recent of his six poetry collections, Some Wonder, was published by Gival Press in 2015. His new collection, Horse Not Zebra, will be published in 2022. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.