Three Poems by Michael Medler

A Stand of Birches

It was surely tweed, three pieces,
that spoke loudest from your closet,
a place I’d never explored before.

The work shirt spoke, but I had to
think about others streaming past,
pausing with hands full of reverie,

flowers. I can still see the stand
of birches we took down last fall,
their paper gone yellow by first

light, the scream of the saw that awoke
a clutch of crows who screamed back.
Yes, it was the tweed and a stiff-collar

white shirt, your best wingtips, your
favorite tie, but the important things,
things close to heart, remained unseen.

The flask of Glenfiddich placed in
a coat pocket and a piece of birch bark
under your right hand. I wondered

if the wool of the jacket raised an itch
like the suit you had me wear to
Sunday school, if you would move

your hand to the smooth arc of your neck
and satisfy the itch as I did learning
about Apostles. You taught me more,

about birches, wood stoves, scotch. I
stand here by your coffin now, not sober,
in my jeans and a frayed flannel shirt.


distance has widened the way lakes
take rain take tears solitude sings

single harmonies where fields
bend down to weaves of wave my

laughter falls fails to amuse
because now it has come to that

because now even birds trade empty
song and all the lakes have gone dry

because when we speak this way
words become leaves as they listen

to the roar deep in a conch spiral
tell us of a region where lakes are

only of tears and our breathless
time bends back in unending arch

Dance in Sand

In sand, I follow paths of others. The sea, reined in, no longer simulates prowess that seemed enough to master the beach, has left a gritty palette of footfalls and stumbles. I try to mimic the dance steps but the music won't come. Some like waltzes, others a dervish spin. Others yet seem bent on following their own way, more like fencing than foxtrot. I wonder at the argument between left and right and why even steps forward cannot agree. Perhaps I will be rendered meek and follow my own path; my own music guiding my steps. Perhaps I will tread as samurai, as ronin, carve the beach before the sea returns.


Michael writes because nature wills him to it. He recently left a dystopian suburb of Seattle and retreated to the kneehills of the Olympic mountains, cut the cable, bought whiskey. Now he finds inspiration from deep woods, less so from demons. Though they are there. You can find his words at Dodging the Rain, Whispers, Plum Tree Tavern and other poetry zines.

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