By John Haag 1926–2008 John Haag

Clouds so thick
   they put down

                        Young aspen

                                          Incoming geese
Periwinkle                              sign passports
   brings remission                        with a V
         of the blues

                         Feel the sun
                              butting the buds

Trout lilies nod                        expand
    they know                                  the sky
         they know

                              a scent by which
                              we mark the calendar

                                          Weather report
         May?                               showers
             By all means               and fresh rainbows
                  Yes. You May


         of summer

                        Loon cries
                            increase the loneliness
                                  of lakes

                                             It’s untrue
They leave that                              that bats
   to the silence                                  make it darker
         of owls

                        Morning warblers
                                  the joy of hearing

                                           Comes the hedgehog
And the bumblebee                        who lives on pins
    non-aerodynamic                           and needles

                              Horses stand
                                  in the setting sun

         Nighthawks                                 if you can
             swoop                                           the firefly’s flash
             gathering the evening


Prophetic winds fill
    the graveyard
          with signposts

                           Then a scurry
                               of stormspurred

                                                A lamentation of geese
Hummingbird leaves                           in the early
   to cruise                                           dusk
         the Carribean

                                 their acorn accounts

                                                Cedar waxwing
Blue jay insists                              feathered scholar
    it’s never too late                           knows his berries
            to scold

                                 predicts a turn
                                     for the worse

                                              Flies buzz
            in this cast-iron                against the chill
                  autumn                               pane
                  stained with rust


Fly husks on sills
      the year’s demise

                              Ptarmigan advises
                                    go back-goback”

                                                   Deer bundle
Coyote lingers                                  in the laurel
    to school us                                       thickets
          in survival

                              Fashionable spruce
                                    knows how
                                        to wear snow

                                                 Strange angels
Frostfeathers                                    leave their three-D
    lace                                                   shadows
    the cabin glass

                            Cabin Fever
                                     runs low

          Days                                     does
               begin                                    the woodpile
                     to lengthen

Source: Poetry (April 1998).


This poem originally appeared in the April 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

April 1998


Born in Idaho, John Haag published three books of poetry: The Mirrored Man (1961), The Brine Breather (1971), and Stones Don’t Float: Poems Selected and New (1996). A member of the Merchant Marine during World War II and a naval veteran of the Korean conflict, Haag studied at the University of Washington and the University of Reading (on a Fulbright scholarship). Much of his poetry dissects his experiences in the armed forces. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Spring, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Weather, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Imagery, Mixed

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