Three Poems

Russell Rowland

view from porch late autumn
Photo Credit: Beth Punches

White Gloves

When the bullet hit (she never heard
the shot) she fell among the leaves
of autumn, to die as they had died,
right in her own backyard: thirty feet
from home, eighty from the woods,
says the police report. It was the talk
of central Maine. You may be aware
of that moisture in eyes when folk
feel sympathetic: this did not appear.

Recent arrivals from New Jersey, he
retired from Princeton, she his wife;
no hunters, not a gun between them.
The hunter, local man, given benefit
of the doubt—lack of judgment firing
near a residence less harshly judged
than her wearing of white gloves
outside, in season: a kindergartener
would know better. Her widower
returned to New Jersey. No charges
were brought against the hunter, who
must be elderly today, if still alive—
outdoor days past, rifle hung above
the fireplace; his bag, from forty-plus
seasons: no deer, but one housewife.


I Can’t Lose

Brown-sugar-colored slush sprays up
into the wheel wells as I drive downtown
in January. You’ll notice where the rust
has started, on a sedan ten winters old.
Still my cheeks are rosy, humor high:
if spring is soon in coming, our delight
at the crocus’s diffident emergences,
at the songbird’s acrobatic cartwheels,
will not be unacceptably deferred—
but if time slows to the crawl of plows,
and repetitive snowfall effaces walks
we just shoveled, so that April, May,
June are delayed in transit—well—
the terminal illness, the last breath,
while daughter kneads a tissue, and
son-in-law glances at his watch,
may get pushed even further back
in this many-seasoned century.
I see me winning either way.



After weeks of stoicism and tuneless whistling,
Barney finally broke down over Adeline’s box
at the edge of six cubic feet of topsoil, severed
worms, about to separate him from his pretty girl
of sixty-two years. We looked away, embarrassed,
looked instead at the dirt: restful emotionless stuff,
with its potent sexual fecundity: almost any crop
can grow—except another Adeline won’t come up.
The blindness of topsoil, against our open eyes,
the deafness of it, working its way into our ears,
the dumbness of it, impacted in our throats,
the impartiality of it, burying sinner next to saint—
we well understood the blackness inside Barney’s
one suit, as he in turn began to concede to the dirt,
to trust it with Adeline; to walk away, let her melt
into dirt forever, as into the arms of another man.


Russell Rowland is from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he is a past winner of Old Red Kimono‘s Paris Lake Poetry Contest and twice winner of Descant‘s Baskerville Publishers Poetry Prize. His chapbook, Train of All Cabooses, is available from Finishing Line Press. Email: abba456[at]

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