The Klyde Robinson Poetry Prize
Here They Landed
Ashley River, Charleston, SC
It’s the old gods that haunt me:
daily chant to dusky oblivions
that sparked us out of the void;
supplicant bow to the sun,
which each day turns water
and flesh to residue. When the flocks
of dart-winged birds gauze
the sky, I know some omen
of change lurks near. When the lone
sea-bird sends its squawk
from the oak’s top know
the ocean has tossed it here
to help mourn the drowned.
A fortune found in the figure-eight
curl of snakeskin under the azalea.
Moon anymore the strangest sight:
so precise and still. The tunnel
such long vision makes. It’s true
the river quakes with its bank
collapse or when the untimed
bombs, sunk centuries ago, unwind.
Used to be this place was oranges,
the grove pruned in the most
precise suffering known. Gods
of labor, gods of spoil: those that bear
the heavy arc of ancient sky,
silvered with phosphorus and song.