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  • A Black Spot, and: Digging a Well
  • Jim Richards (bio)

A Black Spot

The first bird I shotwas a robin with my BB gun.I was looking into the sunat a tall pine where a black spotflickered on a long limb. [End Page 105] I aimed and fired, notexpecting anything to happen,but a winged shadow fellto the forest floor. I ranto see what I had hitand found a punctured breast,three beads of blood.With two sticks, I picked upthe limp, feathered song,help me forget, and flung itinto the woods.I climbed the tall pineand discovered, help me, a nestof chicks, their orange beaks open,trembling, flames of fire.I did not dirge I killed your motherand cast myself to the ground.No. I sang a single copper notedown each throat, raninside when called for supper.

Digging a Well

By hand, with a blunted pickax,a plastic bucket, and a sledge—a spade's no good in stony ground.Six feet, and still no water.

Moses struck the rock and blissgushed out, not blood from blisters,not curses from a cracked tongue.Each strike I make makes more rock. [End Page 106]

Tell my wife the kids can lickthe dust from my boots to quenchtheir thirst. I have visions of hergiving suck and powder coming out.

Seven feet. Might as well be seventytimes seven. How the devil's a manto drink? Drive the pick into his heart?A well without water is a tomb.

Jim Richards

Jim Richards's poems have appeared recently in Texas Review, Poet Lore, Literature and Belief, the Fertile Source, and Contemporary American Voices. He currently serves as poetry editor of Irreantum.



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pp. 105-107
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