April 4, 2017

Three Poems by Dan Jacoby: "city of new orleans, illinois central," "landscape," and "obligations"

Dan Jacoby is a former principal, teacher, coach, and counterintelligence agent. He is a graduate of St. Louis University, Chicago State University, and Governors State University and lives in Beecher and Hagaman, Illinois. He has published poetry in Anchor and Plume (Kindred), Arkansas Review, Belle Rev Review, Bombay Gin, Burningword Literary Review, and Indiana Voice Journal, to name a few. He He is a member of the American Academy of Poets and the Carlinville Writers Guild and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He is currently looking for a publisher for a collection of poetry.

city of new orleans, illinois central

passenger train hurried along
through cottonwood bosque
along the mississippi
trees etched seamless against winter sky
made a slow west turn
as it topped the high bluff ridge
early winter sun blinding
with its direct southern slant

snow storm brewing in northern plains
as we rattled on, creek bottoms on both sides
with deep and shallow frozen creeks
banks punctuated with willow, white oak, and maple
view jolts me out of urban thought
presses out my troubles, lifts my spirits
with an ancient primordial joy

viewed objectively it looks cold
barren, frozen, forbidding
but only by a materialistic eye
this country can be hard to control
but there is a promise of fertility
a promise of comfort
but it does put a man in his place
his existence almost meaningless

your eyes find patterns
ruins of old fence rows, collapsing farm houses
abandoned rail right of ways, picked grey crop rows
your ears hear stories and myths
in old graveyards and fading general stores
speak to us in whispers
in this crystalline air
to make us concentrate
gives us a list
of our own sacred places

as sure as cold spring rains
blur winter’s window dust
our need to focus so as
not to miss the old ghosts
joining in a moment of sensory deprivation
leaving the present
becoming the wilderness past
awestruck by simple incredible beauty

all the time
listening to the earth
locked in subdued starlight
able to hear blood
circulating in your eyes
watching mallards and canadian geese
wheeling patterns in the sky
spurring all ability
to appreciate all this beauty
the spirit, holiness of place

(Previously published in Belle Reve Literary Review. )


these creeks at times
flow like the wind
dark water follows
every curve of the banks
like a jealous lover
rolls through these ancient hills
like the passage of time
the bear, solomon, otter and hodges creeks
merge into the macoupin
completing a rush to the illinois
in early morning fog
that sometimes lurks to midday
remnants of late frost linger
along with sounds of coming spring
that few men note
that creek bottom is haunted
as sure as these old buttes
were worn by glaciers
ancient tongues echo still
wild ears pause to heed
spirits that cast this earth
all are haunted
some more than others
by whispers and songs
that caress the soul
persist in dreams


half dozen squirrels
stripped the bark
from a forty year old pine
the bird tree
my wife calls it
sheltering a crowd
sparrows, doves, buntings
frostbitten, hungry, complaining
raise up at every false alarm
they live another day
I feed them
some so desperate
furnace exhaust doesn’t frighten
puff their feathers trapping air
in twenty below wind-chill
an americanized norwegian rat
living in a deep hole
wont stick his head out
all paw and claw at frozen earth
looking for life
cling to clear plastic feeders
an uncommon south wind
turns them sideways twisting
sunflower feeder broken open
by mad starving gangster squirrels
who bump and tumble across the flat roof
a cardinal perches stoically
watching the clamor above and below
passes some pine limbed judgment
flys off reminding my obligation
not to forget them

(Previously published in Turkshead Review:January 2014)

© Dan Jacoby

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