Here valleys mist and old mossed forests tower,
aarocks bracken orange,
slubbed hayricks blaze, razed scrub’s all stubbled,
and silhouettes of castles are devoured.
aaClouds curd. Hills range
in crenellations. A peasant, doubled,
crooks up the next lopsided crest a-glower;
aaherds far from grange
have strayed past fence and snaggled rubble.
Stones writ with Neolithic runes of balder-
aadash brood with strange
crass, cultic notches—Celtic nubbles,
crosses nature can’t, whether weather’s foul or
to erase: crux botched, bashed, crotched, and crumbled.
Treading heather where lashed coast meets bower,
aabald crofts deranged
by cliff-sides’ lush unnumbered umbels,
nibs of cuckoo blossoms, cockle-beds found lower,
aadredged pebbles flanged
on sea-changed ridges with side-stumbling
spider crabs: the depths crash up one hour
aathen, passing, drain
to junk thick bladderwrack in jumbles.
Steadfast, I ramble through a late spring shower,
in fog. Daubed, drabbled flowers; huddled
bluffs… All the tide-ruck’s lost in reeking pallor.
aaA gruff phalange—
gawped fishheads spit on wrack and lumber.
As summer’s blaze sighed May away,
I understood the noon—
To pluck each pear before it’s ripe;
Grass rippled like a nude.
The hay compact inside its barn;
Each leaf, an out-flung tongue.
Dark clouds kept lightning tucked within
Their skin, a pulsing lung.
The elements were each at war—
Sky opened like a grave.
With one rash stroke, the wind in-rushed
And unrelenting bathed
Lush meadows where freshwater sailed
Down gutters flashed again
As birds flushed shadows out and swooped
Through fire and gouging rain.
The lightning leaps upon the air,
The air sends thunder back—
One instant all the earth is bright,
The next some tree has cracked.
The overcast has crawled away.
Sun glisters in the clear.
Upon disheveled ground’s one ripe,
Un-bruised but freckled pear.
Black fists of rotting fruit
all shriveling to blisters
where hordes of insects loot them.
A crow hops, judders, squawks;
picks over raw—the over-
ripe & desiccated hearts;
plucks out the meat & shivers,
as rainfall faintly hisses
flaps off & looks for others.
Dawn blinds the starry zodiac;
the night’s been put to bed.
The cyclists steer their day-bright bikes
across stick-crippled trails.
Stiff grass up-reared through splay of thatch
obscures which way’s ahead.
The forest here is all alike;
weeds graze each shin to braille.
Wheels grip chicane with shifts down grades,
gears teeth up tricky hills.
Each shard of snow would levitate
when flawless sky’s undone.
Quick birds whose frost-blue feathers fade
flee winter’s overkill.
A chain, a bone—snapped clean as fate,
slips jagged over stones.
A shot has shattered all the flock,
a murder of the crows.
The cyclists scream owl-headed back,
no headwind contravenes.
Their hands are thrown out like a clock’s—
at breakneck pace they go:
they race the rain erasing tracks
past sundown’s guillotine.
Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Fourteen Hills, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Sycamore Review, The Threepenny Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He lives in Flagstaff, where he is a faculty member in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.