Will Greenway


The hawk on fire hangs still . . .

—Dylan Thomas


For the two months she was either down deep

or probably dead, each morning I’d wind

to the hospital through a dozen villages

to walk the halls of the I.C.U.—

or some such Welsh acronym—to sit all day

by her bedside, breaking only

for the stodge in the cafeteria, or to exit

the back way past two tall chimneys

of the crematorium

to get into the hills of South Wales,

its sheep, horses, and a few cows

black-smoke-shadowed by what

remained of the once-sick,

the grief-sick left behind.


From the smoke into the smother,

I heard someone quote Shakespeare

in the waiting room.


I somehow thought the country 

of my preacher grandfather might enlist 

his help, but being neither Church

nor Chapel, I could pray only

to the hawk that always seemed to hang 

above the pastures, a windhover,

a Christless cross,

my only prayer my learning,

though I knew it never 

worked that way,

though maybe, for once, it would,

that hawk hover high

and still above the smoke.



I try to get my daughter to take
one of my books to show and tell,
a proud moment
I always dreamed of,
but she rolls her eyes
in her new sign-language
and takes instead another
stuffed animal.


Or at least take the two ammonites
we bought in Lyme Regis, the snail
shells curled and ribbed
like fetal vertebrae still here,
flesh gone.


But fossils to her are just more rocks,
and what’s a million years, three
to be exact, to a young girl
with a boyfriend, already,
in the 2nd grade, who, she knows,
will never be as old
as her old man.


And, after all, she’s right:
a poem is really nothing.
Just another shell,
the flesh gone.


Walking the Dog Days

Divorce papers came in the mail today

wearing enough lines of legalese

to trim a tree with no lights.

The wasps have moved back into

their summer homes,

and melting snow has bared the rusting

spare parts of farmyards,

and irrigated the already bloating, gangrenous green,

putting bees in the bonnet,

and flies in the buttermilk.

No willow-wended English river,

or sky-lapped lake
of frosted rocky mountains,
just the firecracker fizzle
of the 4th, and then another
August of a month of Sundays.

Will Greenway’s thirteenth collection, As Long As We’re Here, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. His Selected Poems was the 2014 Poetry Book of the Year Award winner, also from FutureCycle Press, and his tenth collection, Everywhere at Once, won the Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Ohio Library Association, as did his eighth collection, Ascending Order. Both are from the University of Akron Press Poetry Series. His eleventh collection, Selected Poems, was the Poetry Book of the Year Award winner from FutureCycle Press. His work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, and Shenandoah. His awards include the Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors’ Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer’s Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and he has been named Georgia Author of the Year. He is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Youngstown State University.

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