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Temple Cone
Poems

About the Poet
Temple Cone is the author of three books of poetry: That Singing, from March Street Press (2011); The Broken Meadow, which received the 2010 Old Seventy Creek Poetry Press Series Prize; and No Loneliness, which received the 2009 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book Prize. An associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy, he lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

Spring 2015 Poems ~
Prophecy

Where the hoochie-coochie meets the fish boil,
you’ll find layers of dissonant outcomes.
But prophecy’s sticky as motor oil.
Even proved wrong, a foretold truth still hums
like buglights in August. Can’t shut it off.
Seems folks’ve always heard how they’ll thrive or die
with the coming times. Sad winds hack and cough,
spit their lunged-up sickness in each man’s eye
whilst sulphurous mist blinds the river delta.
How forever hated this miserable tract
where fallen fruit spoils. Some say there’s hell to
pay for god-given truths the cussèd lacked
the god-given sense to ken. In the saying
is the sooth. How like the snake’s hiss sounds praying.

 

~

Lentecost

Y’all fixing to die in awful ways.
Shame you can’t see. Bees be helicoptoring
over clover, black bears snarl awake, ginseng
fingers up in woods where no one strays,

and still y’all sure of what the spring says:
beauty be resurrected, some such thing.
Can’t see past the pear trees blossoming
to the hawk glaring from a stand of hickories.

Hunger’s what it means, a famine hard on
winter’s heels. No berries yet, no calves born.
This here wet breeze carries some fool notion

that life’s looked after—God cares—and yon storm
ain’t bringing floods, but will raise up new corn
and kindle trees with verdant flame. O yessum.

 

~

Some Folks Still Live By Myth

Achilles got blown away
on a sea-blue day,
two shotgun kicks to the heart.
Ajax botched his own death,
making a cut and a cut
and a bloody mess
of hisself.
  Odysseus was damn glad
to be rid of them goons,
home just a few days away
across those lazy waters
and him itching for Penelope,
with no thought whatsoever
given to honey-traps.
   

~

The Hawk You See May Be Your Own

A careful hawk’s as good as a dead one.
Only when stooping from scrub pines,

pitched by hunger at shadows in the grass,
knows it its name, and nothing lonelier.

Same principle applies in calligraphy
and sighting a .308. Spit in your hand,

you can lift a burning branch from the fire
before you think about it, if you think about it.

Remember, and you’ll know why a landscape
be it painted, parched, or snow-peaked,

so perfectly fits the wound in your heart.
Timberlines press their evergreens far north

into the everdark, amid the everwind,
because they’ve learned how to drink starlight.

It may take a hundred years or just a second
to see the hawk you see may be your own.

 

Temple Cone ~

 

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