One Winter by Richard Meyer

One Winter

Where are the snows of years gone by?
And where’s the one who came this way
beneath a low and chalky sky
and walked with me that winter day

down hillside woods, past limestone walls,
then up a creek bed deep in snow
to see the frozen waterfalls?
The cataract’s arrested flow

shone like a pillared mound of glass,
all plunge and roar solidified
into a looming blue-green mass.
We stood in silence, side by side,

and winter held us, kept us bound
in consonance like ice and stone,
and laced together on the ground
the only tracks were ours alone.

But lives are fluid, mutable,
not fixed tableaux inside a sphere
where worlds are snowy beautiful
and nothing changes year to year.

I saw that winter melt and go
in icy currents down a stream
and all that bright beguiling snow
become a lost dissolving dream.

by Richard Meyer, appears in Orbital Paths.

Editor’s Note: This poems formal structure creates a lovely narrative direction in a poem that might otherwise seem too easy.

Disputation by Richard Meyer


Relentless waves collapse against the rocks
that wall a jagged, undiminished shore.
The water seems undone by granite blocks,
and yet each wasted wave is followed up with more.
Undaunted water rolls, and rolls, and rolls on in.
Both rock and wave contest where land and sea begin;
and both display their might, and both are always right.
The ancient quarrel roars and howls all day, all night.

by Richard Meyer, first published in Orbital Paths.

Editor’s Note: The rhyme and meter of this poem reflects the content—repetition of motion between sea and stone. The larger allegory speaks of our need for contest, and the lasting, unresolved motion of it.

March by Richard Meyer


The woods exhale a mist,
hillsides catch the sun.
Beneath its pitted crust
a creek begins to run.

Along a drifted hedge
girdled branches show
where hungry rabbits fed
when it was twelve below.

On top the backyard shed
a ridge of tattered snow
dissolves around its edge
and takes the melting slow.

The brittle sheet of ice
puddled beneath a spout
thaws and freezes twice
before the weekend’s out.

Naked trees cast down
a tracery of shade
across a patchwork yard
mottled white and brown.

The ground is working hard
to come back from the dead
and soften for the spade
that turns a garden bed.

by Richard Meyer, first published in Orbital Paths.

Guest Editor’s Note: It is difficult to manage delicacy in iambic trimeter, but Richard has done so here. The assonance is playful, especially the long “ee” sounds in each line of the fourth stanza.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

Late November by Richard Meyer

Late November

Not a cloud or wisp of cloud
ruffles the wide unwrinkled sky
stretched tight as a blue scrim.

Trees stand bare and mute,
each leaf played out, a fallen note
in this quiet concert hall.


Somewhere in a large white room
another orchestra tunes up.

by Richard Meyer, first published in Orbital Paths.

Editor’s Note: The clean, spare lines of this poem reflect the pause between the seasons with great silence.

Well-Attended by Richard Meyer


After the funeral they stop by
the house for lunch, an open buffet
for backyard feeders: mourning doves,
black-capped chickadees, goldfinches,
grosbeaks, nuthatches.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sparrows belly up
to the birdbath, make room
for a stray starling on the rim.
Grackles pace the green lawn
like dark-suited ushers.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A cardinal
pulses red on a bent pine limb, drops in
like a blood clot, calls out
what-cheer, what-cheer cheer cheer
gertie gertie gertie
as if you were here, behind that gray screen,
whistling in your chair on the sunlit porch.

by Richard Meyer, first published in Able Muse.

Editor’s Note: Some people say that a cardinal in the yard is a sign that a dead loved one is visiting. This poem uses many birds to show the loss that grief creates.

Passer Domesticus by Richard Meyer

Passer Domesticus

the common house sparrow, also known as the English sparrow

They dress in frowzy jackets,
they twitter strident tongues—
unduly coarse in most respects,
mere balls of lint with wings.

They do not mind a gutter,
a chimney pot or eave;
they loiter through inclement weather
without the sense to leave.

They roister in the roads,
they litter every lawn;
their shanties ruin neighborhoods,
they inundate the town.

They squabble over crumbs,
they lack civility—
to feed and fight and fornicate
their sole philosophy.

Promiscuous and rude,
they wrangle, loaf, and beg—
this rabble of the English brood,
plebeians from the egg.

by Richard Meyer, first published in THINK

Editor’s Note: I really really really wish I had a photo of a house sparrow. Alas.

No Sanctuary by Richard Meyer

No Sanctuary

This January sky blue as June
doesn’t move the sparrows.
They hunker down, little gargoyles
braced against the wind,
feather-puffed and patient,
doing gray penance
in a snow-stuccoed hedge.

by Richard Meyer, first published in the Alabama Literary Review.

Editor’s Note: I am inordinately fond of birds. There is no hedge in this photo, but this particular poem evokes the apartment block of sparrows in the hedges that surround my parents’ yard, where scores of them flock and hunker down in the winter.

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim — white-throated sparrow