John Riley


It isn’t for you to know
that as you sit in peripheral comfort
perhaps before a fire
trying to decide if this is the place
you dreamed of
because you know your thoughts
have no eyes
something wild moves through
your evening
perhaps a coyote
driven down from dry hills
has heard it is the night
you may embrace his embrace
or a fox fattened on dreams
of a farm house about to end
will settle on your lawn
with no regard of stars
or wind or even the tilt
of the chimney smoke
remnants of your fire
or it could be just a crow
tired of the wire
fresh from a funeral
and an hour of cawing
at the you beasts
walking by

Weed Fire

Wind was a sorry excuse for force
by time the fox ended his escape
of the failing fire
and waited, hunched but never slinking,
inside the weeds and we, the three of us,
on the edge of the field, you and your brother
who bragged later he had tossed the match, and I,
did not wait like the fox,
as though our existence had been threatened,
but with the shallow, yellow transience
of new humans disappointed (I,
the only one who was afraid
of the joy of destruction
that could have been set free,
was the most disappointed)
that our smoldering
would soon be gone.




John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, ConnotationPress, Blue Five Notebook and other journals and anthologies both online and in print. He is the founder and publisher of Morgan Reynolds, an educational publisher located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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