Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

Black Crows

March 26, 2018


Black crows     Silent crows

Me on my path in the morning
startled by a silence of crows

Crows in a bush in the morning
Crows by my path in the morning

Large   Black   Silent

Crows watching me in the morning
Me watching crows in the morning

Standing by a bush watching crows
watch me in the morning

Path  Crows  Bush  Me  Morning


First published in Kansas Quarterly.



This poem goes back to an encounter at Purdue University when I was a student on my way to a 7:30 a.m. class.

Much later, when Vera and I were living in Wichita, Kansas, we used to walk a path along the river for exercise. At a bend in the path was a stand of trees that served as the winter home for hundreds of crows. They were an impressive and for some an intimidating presence. We could feel their group awareness as we passed next to them, but they were never concerned about us.

It was the same spiritual tension I had felt in my earlier encounter. Crows are very special birds. I am always aware of them.


Mike takes a hike in Missouri – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Mike takes a hike in Missouri – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Late-Night Café in Missouri

March 16, 2018


It’s 9 p.m. and they’re
        out of mashed potatoes
        out of corn
        almost out of beef
        (Mine’s the last order) 

In the john the air dryer’s
out of air 

Behind the cashier they are
out of Brach’s candies
in the Candyland display! 

The tossed salad is out of
everything but lettuce 

The waitress is out of pep
so the cook refills my coffee 

Got any apple pie tonight?
Sorry  he says  you’re
        out of luck


First published in Poetry Now (No, not in either of those. In the big tabloid that existed in California in the 1970’s).


Winter Seeds - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Winter Seeds – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.


Sailboats in Winter

January 15, 2018

(Clinton Lake, Kansas)

Sailboats in dry dock are chorus bells
on a windy hill.

Through two winter miles of Osage woods,
branched low and sheltering,
A hiker comes stumbling down crumbling
     limestone hills, wandering
in and out, skirting lake-flooded creeks,
     boldly sauntering

across boat ramps and silent roads,
     side-stepping hillside seeps,
leaping on fallen oaks, and laughing
     at the deadfall’s creak.

Then wind in the rigging. The music
     of metal fittings fills the sky,

tinkling   tinkling   tinkling

like nothing wintering on a Kansas hill.


First published in Mostly Maine.


Mike takes a hike in Missouri - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Mike takes a hike in Missouri – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer