Just published in Poemeleon a journal for poetry. Part of the museum and poetry compilations called “The Plague Papers.” You can read it here: https://poemeleon.me/van-goghs-the-potato-eaters-dianne-mackinnon-henning
In the beginning there was promise.
We lived together in harmony,
took only what was needed and that was sufficient.
The Shepherd walked with his sheep,
animal spirit commingling with human spirit,
breath of the sacred between them.
We suffered when we stopped seeing
everything as part of us,
when we thought human greater,
therefore, separate and superior.
The Shepherd set down his water horn,
gave up daily treks over green hills.
He forgot his thirst for clear streams.
Forgot what the earth told his feet.
This division split our spirits,
and the animals cried for their people.
A fracture grew between nations.
At night the animals pined for us to enter their lives,
but we’d forgotten the wholeness of the world,
and for this the animals continue to weep.
Poetry Pacific 2020
From the Northeast Kingdom
When the black bearskin hung from the tree
like a rug drying on the clothesline,
the hunter recounted how he started an incision,
cut upward to the head,
stopped at the mouth’s corners. From the rear paws
I cut to the elbow, crossed to the chest incision,
his voice razzed the youngster who watched,
Are you sickward, Child? It wasn’t until he
got to the head that fuzziness rocked her.
Between kerosene kerplunking into the cook-
stove, and her Grandfather’s graveled voice,
she silently wept for the ears turned
inside out, pressed back. The bear’s
life spoke to her of fresh droplets
coating his fur tips, and the scent of blackberries rose.
Inside the bear’s choice thicket, paws reach for vines,
and he pulls leaves, thorns, berries towards him,
meshing them into his mouth—such sweetness.
Only when he satiates himself,
turning in his dark poetic cape does the hunter
bring him down—a moment of beauty and satisfaction
supremely merged, and he falls,
as only a black bear falls, king
of his forest, crowned by the rainfall.
Nagatuket River Review
Because He Cannot Be Human, and She Cannot Be Donkey.
His name is Jacob, his fur an unruly thatch.
My sister is in love with him, brings him carrots,
apples and such. He lives in a field down the road
from her in Starksboro, Vermont. They are neighbors.
I wonder if he dreams about her at night,
if he’d like to snuggle with her at the old Mill House
on cold evenings. He reaches so far into his barreled chest
for a voice to greet her that it must take years
for such braying as his, a voice filled with such sadness
that only momentarily they will meet like this; two
reaching across the fence to hold, to stay held, to be
steadied by what fierce yearning as brings opposites together.
Poetry Pacific #37
A rooster crowed at the first
strike of light, awaking the stone
child who held her own
child, and was herself
a child. In England, the first
rhubarb of the year is harvested
by candlelight to enhance a more
tender, sweeter stalk. There’s even
a Rhubarb Triangle, where growing sheds
dot the land. This resembles wonder. Salt
on rhubarb is what you remember. You
offer a bite to the stone child. She
wrinkles her face into a smile. You’ll never
get used to the way memory
makes you live many lives. In a single season
of rhubarb, countless
stone children are unearthed.
New American Writing 37
The Leaf Cat
If you stare at something long enough it assumes a life all its own.
Even the wind carries a child in a rucksack.
The child’s name could be Leaf,
emblematic of green, its mixture of yellow and blue.
Our tortured world loves the color green,
its promise of better times.
Oh, to be green in the long night of terror.
Meanwhile, the leaf-cat reclines on a padded porch chair.
The cry in its throat is red
New American Writing Issue: No. 37
Mother once told me my wakefulness took
up an entire floor—that’s
why I house myself in the woods. All
the tree knows of cover is moss. All
the child in Aleppo knows of cover is run. I can’t
reconcile what’s happening in the world. Night
leavens its darkness, buried
in hypocrisy and vile
politicians. There’s a fog
catcher in Lima who brings water
to the poor. I’ve asked him
to speak to us.
Sukoon Vol. 5
When my husband caught the trapped hummingbird
and freed it from the screened-in porch,
his big hands, a woven bird’s nest,
a few fingers opened into an escape hatch,
I held my breath as one does before the delicate—
that spot of bird, singular in its journey,
wings like small lead windows.
It seemed strange to see a big man
who could easily crush the body of such a small thing
release to air the hummingbird, who once in flight,
turned as if to say, I’ll remember this.
Your Daily Poem, on-line, 2014
I am reading a book loaned to me by a very old woman.
Her hands are on the pages and they are slipping into mine;
flesh of a book against my brow as I close my eyes to rest.
What I love best about this book recommended by an old woman,
is how a single strand of silver hair becomes my bookmark—
between two pages, a single strand of hair tells where I left off.
Where I left off is not where I am or where I intend to be.
Further into the book than ever imagined is a story about being
an old woman who reads a book and recognizes herself
in a character. The old woman looks out from the book,
an old woman’s eyes large as an oasis and clear as sunlit sand.
Her hand is a vine of many veins that intertwine and signal something.
Something close and dear as song expresses itself on her lips.
She is sipping lyrics from the air through the straw of a strand of hair.
Her hands are on the pages and they are slipping into mine.
Published In England’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2014–Finalist