Lucy Logsdon

Grading on a late winter day


I am grading; it's getting late

     in the day.  Crows feet gather on my face.

          Brown dots speckle my hands.  This is

               what I do; this is what I've been doing

                    for a long time.  Cornfields, snow and ice.


The wind here howls like a siren at midnight,

     the kind that screeches through a small farm town,

          down the lonely, boarded up main street, past

               the water tower, the topless silo, the cemetery,

                    the deads’ cold bones, down the hard road,


asphalt cracking, potholes growing,

     down into a soft wail, fading into the slush

          from the last February sleet.

               The bay of the frustrated, the cry of the

                     trapped.  I once howled like that, but now


I keep quiet.  My days of loud are over.  My ears

     muffled, my eyes watery.  But I hear

          my students. Their voices rise,

               ragged, rough, harsh, growling, shuffling,

                     from their essays’ pages. It’s a rumbling,


then a roar.  All that need and want rising like a spring

     flood, getting ready to break, to cut flat loose,

          and run for the farthest corners of this earth,

               where they will try to carve their names.  Maybe one

                    or two will manage an escape from this dirt, this world.


And the rest will fall into a steady silence.  The silence of recliners

     and beers.  The silence of mid-life.  The silence of endings.

          The silence that pushes on us all.  I have been doing this

               for a long time, and they keep coming.  Their voices

                    might save even the most quiet of us.


The Hour of the Raccoon


In the hour of the raccoon, sharp claws

savage my ducks, one by one.

Claws scrape their feathers, teeth

tear their flesh.  Once they find

your fowl, they settle in; they go for the rest. 

But maybe it wasn’t them.

Weasel. Dog. Snake. Coyote. Human.

Death is all over the farm this week.

The bay horse dropped in the field,

his tan partner won't stop whinnying

for him to come back come back.

The tabby kitten crawled the wrong

way, now her spine’s broken, unhinged. 

Five chickens had their throats slit

by something other than me. 

Autumn’s starting to gnaw; the night

air dampers. Pepper calls for Bucky,

follows us down to the corpse, which is

and is not, Bucky, his one other. 

We should do something, do something. 

Pepper neighs all night.  His body crashes

through brush and branches.  Bring me

back mine.  I can't bring any of them back.

Not my sister.  Not my mother.  Not the animals.



The Worrying Hour


It is the hour of dread, when anxiety grips

                my heart and wrings it like a pink rubber sponge.

I pump fear so well, the supply doubles.

                Soon the national gross product of fear will triple.

I've flooded the market, lowered the price,

                devalued the product.  The sky is so falling.


The weathers are changing. The tornados

                are meaner; the thunderstorms belligerent.

Snakes race in black and blue weathers.

                The whole world's alarm system seems

to be off.  Danger, danger, Will Robinson.

                There's no going back.  We want to call it back;


I want to start over.  But, oh no, there worry goes,

                like a thick black snake uncoiling right on my bed. 

A huge vulture shadowing my days,

                a heavy ash smoke rolling towards my window.

My mother, dying, saying, let's get this over with.

                The helplessness of that hour.  What


is my job?  This.  I do it well.  Which death?  Which loved

               one?  When?  As if figuring out could halt.

I am tired of trying to guess how  my father

                will die.  The snake coils, then lengthens. 

The smoke fills my head.  The dark wings brush my face.

                There is no way except through.


And always there's someone dying, and always there's the hour of this.


        return to poetry

Lucy Logsdon's publications include Poet Lore, Nimrod, The Southern Poetry Review, Literary Orphans, Sixfold, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rose Red Review, Conclave: A Journal of Character, The Miscreant Magazine, Cross Poetry Review and Seventeen magazine. She has received a Macdowell Writing Colony fellowship and taught at The Frost Place. She received her MFA from Columbia University and served as the Program Director at the National Book Awards. Currently, she teaches at Southeastern Illinois College. In her spare time, she raises chickens and ducks and cares for various aging animals with her husband.