Four Poems 

When the Door Closes

I want to say Wait.
To say: I wasn't ready 
for the dark, or for my toes
to turn that shade 
of lamp or lung.
I want to carry buckets
to the ocean. 
Dance in my fancy coat 
made of brightwhite 
feathers. Walk 
across any surface.
Instead, my eyes change.
Someone arrives 
with orange flowers
saying things they don’t 
mean. The air conditioner 
tells me not to cry. 
There’s a man selling string 
and I buy some 
for the hole in my leg
and spin around, asking 
anyone who will listen:
How do I look?
Am I better than I was?
Even the sky doesn’t answer,
and it closes its eyes.

A Train Pulls Up to the Station Then Reverses Without Taking Passengers

I stand there and watch the engine
recede into the mountains.
No one will give me the time.
Men in black suits and black coats 
shift their way to the waiting room. 
A small yapping dog runs 
up and down the platform.
I don't wonder if the train will come back,
or when. It did what I wished I could:
reversed direction, carved itself 
into that space it left behind.

PA-184 Toward Steam Valley

Sudden switches
in direction & weather.

Bends in the road
come as scythes:
falciform, sharpened.

As light ebbs,
hawks loop.
Needly pines
pin themselves to sky.

Farmlands rise, fall—
barns half-eaten
in the dark.

Such symmetry:
bending & unbending.

Cutting through land
toward specific nowheres,
toward home & not home.

Mid-America Suite


A clanging when shovel 
hits rock—Leave it 

for tomorrow
They trudge home 

to stuff mouths 
over fat tallow candles

Ritualized scratching of
flea-bitten ankles

When should the mind 
give up lamenting?

Only when light fails 
do birds stop crying out

Anyways, I think the horse 
is dead


The man shouts Stop
but all they hear is I want, I want, I want

A noisy gurgle from the river
and the weather gets crueler,

the tractor starts up again


Like the way wheat is 
says the farmer looking at his farm, then
at his wife digging her boot into dirt

In the beginning, everywhere 
there was a sound like eagles 
but it was just the bushes 
wishing they could fly

Like the wheat says the farmer
Like the corn

JESSICA POLI grew up in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, but also calls Pittsburgh her hometown. She is editor of the online magazine Birdfeast.
The Adirondack Review