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  • Necropastorals
  • Jonathan Weinert (bio)


Disruption of the warblers' routes         Parched white hairOf brome and grama

Conifers retreating upslope       DominionOf the dry white oak

The woods propose a blind white room       then burn


A white       accessible

                     Only through green        A black                     Contracted

                             As a plague

                             Of fern fronds chokes                             This gully

Not yet boneNo longer crisp

                             Root threads inching down the colorspace

                             From succulent                             To dread [End Page 131]


When no human person's hereThe pine woods brim with soundRare in the galaxy

It matters

Crabgrass silts a drainage ditchWith pointless greenMy word for sacred is undisturbed


Beneath the earth's skin lies                             A face          Black oak knuckles

Clench it               Citizens have sieved                                           Down through it

                                           To the soil                                           Dead seeds swollen black     laxing

                                           Where the blind-eyed beetles                                           Harvest rot for keep


The white pine's                             Awl might strike and wake                             The blinded face

                             Long sentences of cadmium and acids                             Scribbled on the wetlands

A profanity vital in the otter's mouth                             Who sine-waves over ice fields with his death

Already messaged in his spine                             Wedged between his ribs a gift

                             (The gift a flaw the flaw a wound)                             From which his blood's black liquor flows

                             A second body running out                             Across the smoking snow [End Page 132]


Look inside the box to think outside the box

Boxes made for holding goods or corpsesCorpsewood boxes made from clearcuts

Nothing's clear in a denuded landscapeBut nobody's looking as shadows clock over footpaths

On a football afternoon with the lightGoing out of the skyEarlier and earlier

And the bluescreened facesOf the fiercest predators the earth has ever seenPretend to a devastating mildness

There's such a thing in the world nowAs "nature deficit disorder"Which means it may be too late

As names make boxes to hold the memories of thingsThat have almost finished vanishing


If my need were less dire I'd be assailedBy less silence                             Here among the beardtongueAnd strawberry clover          Otters cottontails hawks jays loves

Why have you savaged your facesAgainst me          (Rapacious Pilgrims ghostingOver grass          I hear you passingAnd the skins of the dead you wore)                                                                      If I were less humanYou could be more so          I made a botchBut didn't blare it                  which ought

To count                    And who am I now What wasteHave I assembled and is it part of meThis rat's long tail [End Page 133]


The asshole trees shit seedsWhich fuck the darkness underground

Sucking till the wet threads come

Death in its other aspectThe series' prequel

Waste light vomited in pools

To stink and bleedInto delicate fringes


When the woods stand empty there will be no woodsAnd incarnation's a tensioned wireWill warp and straighten and its painWill never end [End Page 134]

Jonathan Weinert

Jonathan Weinert is the author, most recently, of Thirteen Small Apostrophes (2013) and In the Mode of Disappearance (2008), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize. He is co-editor, with Kevin Prufer, of Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W. S. Merwin (2014). He lives in Massachusetts.



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