Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Jory Mickelson






Not his human ghost, but the animal
he’d become, led me

through nightblack grass, the path
a knotted lead, wavering, always

forward. Half way up the rise,
pale, rubbing its haunches

against the sky with a camp pot grain
of stars, his shape a grey—

hound, a rabbit, a goon. Familiar
despite his lost face. Someone

I knew, though I’d slowly let him
go until there were runs of days

I didn’t think of him at all. But here,
cresting the hill to look

at such dark water rolled
to the edges. Hello, said the sea

though it would not recognize itself.


in some future time

What if, for us, there is no dark
no cold dripping November spruce, no

headstones, not even
a name, the seasons saying

relent with each drip. What if
vetch and sweet pea tire of their work—

honeysuckle exhausts its bloom? When the last
visitor, a century ago tossed an apple

it grew, but now gives up its twisted limbs, what then,
when one of us is not here to hold

the other crookedly—when even the name of this
small town is smudged, moved

from remember to—I really don’t
want this to be melancholy

so the chickadees catch the light the top
of the alder we know

has to be taken down. Is this departure
or regret—how a constellation

hangs over the house, faithful painting
an entire season, and abruptly

the picture’s gone askew? We don’t believe:

there is a point beyond what can be
repaired between us,

that there will be a time
without our names.

Jory Mickelson lives in Northwest Washington. His work has appeared most recently in The Southwest American Review of Literature, The Florida Review, Vinyl Poetry, and other places in print and online. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poet's Prize and a Lambda Literary Fellow. More from this author →