The cathedral is coming down.

Oaks, hickories splinter into leafy glass.

Shards spiral. Cold drifts down.

The wind dumps truckloads.

The kaleidoscope is shattering blue.

Frost laces the grass.


He calls a friend to launch a boat

in the river: “It will sink of dry rot

before it gets wet again.”

Soviet citizens chided their officials,

“They will walk out of the water dry.”


There is no escaping warring elements,

no matter the day’s brilliance.

“How about a walk somewhere

we haven’t been, crossing

the bridge, walking the ridge

to where it cuts down to the creek?”

His friend is repairing a tire.

He hasn’t finished roofing his studio.


“Who knows he might be dead tomorrow,”

Yesterday in Bali, a crowded night club exploded.

Hidden in a car trunk on a street in Washington DC,

a sniper kills drivers stopped at gas stations.

Work on the roof, go for a walk,

who knows when we’ll be done

praying through these leaves.

Two days later, in the hospital bed

He slurs hello, a stroke of bad luck.


Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen has published 23 books of poetry. Recent books include: Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (BkMk Press, 2013), Perishable Kingdoms (Grito del Lobo Press, 2017), Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), and Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019). His awards include: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Chester H. Jones Foundation Award, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009).

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