RECENT POEMS by Scott Lennox
For much of my life, I have considered poetry to be the language through which I can best engage with the world around me and express what I find in it. Here is a brief collection of new work that celebrates life and reflects my abiding love of the natural world. As I stop and listen, as I allow myself to become still and watch, resonant chords bring me back to myself again and again.
I hope you find things that offer that same resonance so to you.
– Scott Lennox, Fort Worth, Texas
Through my half-opened door,
I watched a crow
dining on biscuit crumbs
and flecks of morning sun,
a stealthy corvid queen,
cloaked in iridescence
and jewels of light.
I shifted, scarcely moved,
and strong and soundless,
she leaned into the sky,
and whisked beyond the branches.
They call to me,
They caw and laugh
and share a joke
that only they can tell.
Hidden in the trees
beside the barn,
black as ink,
they call to me
and seem to know me,
They call to me
with voices dry as
piñon smoke, then,
like that smoke,
disappear on the westerly wind.
What longing lies so deep
in the sky’s heart
that always, it draws the river
upward to itself?
What yielding does the river know
that always, she surrenders herself
as rising morning mist?
The heron, always listening,
follows until the trail is lost,
and then settles again in the grass.
When this rain has ended,
the love song will begin again.
If you close your eyes,
you will hear it whispering.
Crossing the Bridge
Moon hangs low,
a luminous pregnant belly
in the lamp black night,
her watery reflection snaking
through the mist above the river,
still warmed by her dance with the sun
who, hours ago, took his leave,
and went to bed.
On hands and knees
on cloudless Summer days,
I watched them working,
hauling up treasures
from deep within the earth—
tiny gems of garnet, of quartz,
of pink and green stones
whose names I never knew,
gems blood red
and night sky black,
gems white as clouds,
and clear as tears.
On hands and knees
on cloudless Summer days,
I watched them setting into place
their glistening mandala.
A Proper Education
Going out and coming back
astride our two-wheeled ponies,
we learned the slow rhythms
of long summer days,
days filled with promise
and always something new.
Budding botanists, sometimes with books
in hand, we learned to spot them
in their time and place,
Jimson Weed and Mexican Hat
and Indian Paintbrush, and what
crawling things we’d find there.
We soaked our high-topped tennis shoes
in creeks and ponds, searching for
the slick strings of tadpole eggs,
the underwater chimneys of crawdads,
the places where larger fish caught smaller ones,
and most days, the liquid silence of turtles.
We walked rocky miles of railroad tracks,
always listening for the coming of the trains,
and sought out copperheads and horned toads
while hawks and buzzards watched us,
circling from a safer distance
as they rode the rising air.
And afternoons on Borden’s farm,
we made our way to the one we called
the Mother Tree before the cows arrived,
and climbed high enough into her heavy branches
that we could sit above them as they wandered in
and settled into deep shade and cool ground.
Much of what I discovered then
has served me better and lasted longer
than anything I learned while sitting at a desk.
I watched my father,
hands against the glass to shade his eyes,
as he peered through the window
of the two room school
where half a century before,
he had learned to read
and to glimpse a world beyond his village.
The window opened easily,
and when I got inside,
I unlocked a door to his childhood.
There, by the dusty desks,
with wonder in his eyes,
he told of lighting the stove
on frigid mornings,
of teaching the younger children,
and of the constant pull of the sea.
we picked wild blueberries
that had overgrown the yard.
He stole away
and cut an alder sapling
beside the ditch,
slipped off the bark in one piece,
and deftly whittled a flute.
Then with a single note,
long and shrill,
and grinning wide,
he showed us the boy
still at play in Nova Scotia.
Just before sunup,
the wind ripped open
the stacked sheaves of clouds,
tossed them out
onto the threshing floor
and beat them hard,
tearing them to bits
before it flung them
low and wide and far,
a pandemonium of vapor
that raced across
the Texas morning sky.
The announcement came early
with a cooing so soft and low,
it took me by surprise.
“The doves are back,”
I whispered, smiling.
The doves are back,
calling from the highest branches,
inviting the promise of new life.
The doves are back,
announcing themselves again and again,
even as a soft rain soaks the garden to its roots.
The doves are back,
as Lady Banks spills herself,
a buttery bouquet across the wall.
The doves are back,
and a thousand silent things
are bursting into a symphony of color.
Strange, the way, after so many years,
the calling of doves makes something in me leap,
and something in me hush and bow my head.
But isn’t that the way it should be when God speaks?
Last Night of Summer
not with complaint,
but with a house-shaking concert
and the snapping of limbs.
On the downbeat,
the rolling kettledrums
rose to crescendo,
then fell, then rose again.
over and over,
and, over and over,
night was midday bright.
The basses and cellos
droned and swelled,
and then were drowned out
by the rumbling of the drums.
In the morning,
the world was fresh again,
and leaves carpeted the earth
with the invitation of Fall.
Each lifted face ablaze,
not with morning sun,
or the glare of noon,
nor even moonlight.
were full in flames.
What had been petals,
pink and white,
were tongues of gentle fire
licking the sweet air.
an incense rising.
fanned the flames.
sang to herself,
radiant in the glow.
And there along a lower stalk,
a chorus of ants,
droned in low cycles
like Buddhist monks.
I dreamt of
Heaven on Earth.
Must I tell you
I did not want to waken?
Walking the fields,
I came across my lost dreams,
strewn among the leaves
and broken sticks
at the end of a dry stream bed.
Sitting down on the other side,
I dared not disturb them.
They seemed to be sleeping,
and are sleeping still,
dreaming, perhaps, their own dreams.
When they awaken,
will they remember me?
Caminando por los campos,
me encontré con mis sueños perdidos,
esparcidos entre las hojas
y palitos rotos
al fin de un arroyo seco.
Sentarse en el otro lado,
no me atrevía a molestarlos.
Que parecía dormir,
y están durmiendo todavía,
soñando, tal vez, sus propios sueños.
¿Cuando se despiertan,
A flight of birds,
egrets, whiter than ice,
crossing a line of dark clouds.
but certainly nothing less.
A single glance,
and I am lifted.
Another time, I would have sought
some grand meaning,
a hidden design.
Today, seeing them is enough.
Un vuelo de los aves,
garzas, más blanco que el hielo,
cruce de una línea de nubes oscuras.
pero sin duda, nada menos.
Una sola mirada,
y sea elavado.
Otro tiempo, me habría buscado
algún sentido grande,
un diseño escondido.
Hoy, verlos es suficiente.
Most days, egret turns away,
disdainful of my intrusion
as she meditates in the shallows.
Often, she will glide
low above the water,
to settle undisturbed
near the farther bank.
But not this evening.
She looked right at me,
bowed her head,
closed her yellow eyes,
and whispered softly,
“Here…I offer you a moment
that will last your lifetime.”
Then, opening one wing
feather by feather,
she held it out, just so,
and was set ablaze by the sun.
That Christmas when my father was four,
the gifts were simple things,
and years later he would recount
how the snow fell, how it clung to the trees
and gathered in deep drifts in the woods
and piled high on the roof,
and that he could not think of a time
when he had been more content
than on that Nova Scotia morning.
The Sky Weeping
This dark and heavy morning,
as I lie in my bed,
thinking about my father,
missing his voice,
his wisdom and strength,
it seems the sky,
that longtime friend
he soared and wheeled
and danced delighted,
is missing him too.
This shadowed morning,
as thick tears fall on the roof,
I hear the sky weeping.
You held it up,
its velvet skin
ablush with rose
and yellow gold
and traces of the palest green,
and two shining leaves still attached.
“Smell,” you said,
and I was swept away
in the sweet intoxication
of all the summers I have ever known.
Birds hushed a while
as the eastern horizon
began to glow.
A dog, or was it that
barked once and then
It could perhaps have been
only my imagination,
but even the crickets
as moon began to
liquid yellow gold.
As she rose above the
and into the blackened sky,
the chorus began again,
mockingbird and that
coyotes and small things
hiding in the grass.
And moon, full faced,
The Brazos had overtaken me,
not with might or sweep or headlong rush,
but with her soft and constant invitation
that called to me from the eddies,
that whispered along the sand bars,
that echoed in the under banks.
Under that spell, I made camp
with neither thought nor haste.
Then, as the shade of evening descended,
I sat beside my fire knowing
that my life and the river’s life
were one moving, breathing thing.
Deep in the night,
I slipped into the dream world,
where a heron swam in the air
not a paddle’s length from my canoe,
where great fish flew through the water,
unafraid and close enough to touch,
where water and air surrendered to each other,
cloud and river and dreamer as one.
As thunder loomed and rolled,
and lightning ripped the sky apart
and trees bent hard before the wind,
the birds flushed from my garden
to hush and to hide in their most secret places.
But high in the darkening brood,
dashing, diving, wheeling,
for what seemed the pure joy of it,
a lone swift mocked the coming storm.
Entranced by such freedom
that in plummet and pirouette
refused to turn away,
I stood transfixed a while,
then stepped to shelter
as the sidelong torrent began.
Not an hour had passed
before the sun shone through again,
my garden and the trees beyond
wrapped in golden light.
And high above, and all alone,
that acrobatic swift returned,
a master of herself, the sky,
and ecstasy in flight.
Henry and the Moon
Hidden in the brush of a distant draw,
coyotes announce themselves
with the nightly ritual
of their rousing raucous rant.
Henry pays no mind.
He sits alone at the end of the dock,
legs crossed and stone still,
enrobed in the broadening reflection
that dances on the night-black
of his great grandfather’s pond.
The harvest moon is rising.
How many evenings he has sat just so,
an ageless boy in constant wonder.
This night, a new thought stirs
as the golden orb crests the trees
along the eastern pasture’s edge.
Gazing at the water, spellbound,
Henry whispers, asking softly
how many years must pass
before, at last, he can dive in
and swim all the way to the moon.
I keep telling myself
that if I listen deeply enough,
attend closely enough,
I will hear the whispering
of the angels who hover over us,
some of them weeping
out of the deepest longing
that we open our hearts and awaken
to the peace and compassion
that are the very reasons for which
we were called into this existence.
And though I cannot yet hear them,
and though there is so much to distract me,
I will not stop listening.
A Fragile Cycle
Making my way along the southern ridge,
where the pastures fall away
and the creek is all but dry,
the hard-packed earth offers
mysteries of its own.
At my approach, a quail rushed off,
keeping low and traveling not too far,
where it hid, perhaps watching,
from the branches of a scrub cedar.
The sudden thrum of its wings
caused my heart to race
and made me laugh out loud.
It always does.
Looking down where the bird had been,
not more than a step away,
two mottled eggs lay undisturbed
on a tuft of prairie grass.
It was not what you would call a nest,
but a few curled wisps,
tender blades barely strong enough
to hold their new-laid charges
which sat in open sight,
easy prey for what might feed on them.
I backed away, not wanting to intrude,
and did not wait to see the bird return,
but pondered as I ambled down the draw,
knowing that the chances are as good as not
that new life will emerge,
and that in its own season,
the fragile cycle will be repeated.
It’s a late New Mexico afternoon,
and from where I sit
with mountains embracing me on three sides,
but for the chirping of a single bird,
the only sound is the wind
whispering through these cedars and pines.
In this stillness, nothing human may be heard,
and I am moved to reverence and wonder,
aware that where I am, is sacred.
In another time, I would have thought myself
little more than a stranger passing through.
But that isn’t so and never was.
There is nothing I can name
that separates me from this land,
or from the things that move and grow upon it.
Like these trees, those high circling crows,
the snow up there, and the drifting clouds,
I will remain here a while and will one day pass away.
Such is the way of things.
But for now, I belong.
And for now, I have come to listen and to watch,
to connect with myself and with those I love,
and to simply be.