Michelle Kingdom © 2018

Michelle Kingdom © 2018


by David Ruekberg



I sweep the back porch of maple keys
and oak flowers from last week’s storm,

bring out the rocker I store in my study
over winter, bring out my writing tools:

lapdesk, notebook, fountain pen, coffee, banana.
A chipmunk sets up its chipping warning

like a crazed mason working at a greasy stone.
A sparrow sits on a spruce bough, gurgling his question,

unsure how to get the moth in his beak
to the birdhouse where his babies hungrily gawk.

One of the flagstones is crumbling to dust
and later I’ll look into why and try to repair it, 

and later I’ll weed the garden and mow
the incessant lawn, and negotiate the paths

between love and ruin connecting the kitchen
and the bedroom. Plan the rest of the week

and part of the summer. But for now
there’s this work, these small strokes

that may add up to nothing more
than compost for tomorrow’s trial.

Everything I see is made of little efforts,
piling up like pebbles that divert some

current this way or that. It narrows and roars.
It flattens and makes a fan from which

slender green things grow, and a system
of small lives, burrowing and leaping,

gathering twigs and making nests shaped
like a world, for the work to continue.


David Ruekberg, of Rochester, NY, writes on his patio regularly. He has enjoyed an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a residency at Jentel Arts. Publications include Barrow Street, Borderlands, Mudfish, Poet Lore, and others. Read about his first collection, Where Is the River Called Pishon? (Kelsay Books), here.