as if it were a flag of a country that no longer existed

The first stanza of today’s selection by Jim Moore (1943-) could be a heartbreaking poem unto itself.


“Love in the Ruins”


I remember my mother toward the end,

folding the tablecloth after dinner
so carefully,
as if it were a flag
of a country that no longer existed,
but once had ruled the world.


7 A.M. and the barefoot man

leaves his lover’s house
to go back to his basement room
across the alley. I nod hello,
continuing to pick
the first small daffodils
which just yesterday began to bloom.


Helicopter flies overhead

reminding me of that old war
where one friend his life,
one his mind,
and one came back happy
to be missing only an unnecessary finger.


I vow to write five poems today,

look down and see a crow
rising into thick snow on 5th Avenue
as if pulled up by invisible strings,
and already
there is only one to go.



another winter; my black stocking cap,
my mismatched gloves,
my suspicious, chilly heart.

from Invisible Strings, Graywolf Press, 2011