Clade Song 2



All is well, I sang, little
learning how to do the harmony parts,
Saturday church choir, All is well

the blue sparrow babies have hatched
and we have kept the cats
away thus far

and one day everyone decides
to bale their hay
every single field down
all at once everyone

all at once
my friend is sick
sick and far away and I hear
will die and I
can’t get my head
big enough to think it through
All is well, I sang, All is well
tho hard to you


So I wrote another friend
a goat on a spit for you, Brenda
we took a photo
, I said, transcribed,
put it down, list, list,
sent a postcard
is it getting hot in here

I am cycling in the mountains
here is what I see
my arms stretched out in my shadow
three horses are facing away
the cows have got out, one white
excuse me while I take this hill


don’t you call coward on me
I put the knife through the fish’s skull
once caught, all alone,
into its hot, hot brain, again, again
to be sure it’s just

here lies / the Idaho kid
the only time / he ever did
said bird bird bird bird in Pisa
counted for comfort
because everyone needs a latch
comfort, comfort
knife caught hold
in a cliff
and if I die, I sang, and if I die


I can’t name my friend
here a name too big
so name another, a dear


the spit is picking up, Brenda
I have a bug in my eye
I can ride a hill down w/ no breaks now
my one eye is streaming from the bug
the spit is turning fast, Brenda
a knife to the brain is quicker
than a whack, whack, more humane
I cannot get it in my head
I see a blue bird, a bale,
a white cow
every single field down
Happy day, I sang, All is well
every single thing down, picking up


Cowles Kathryn Cowles is an Assistant Professor of English at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, where she teaches poetry to college students, some of whom like poetry and some of whom do not. She tries to get all of them to like it. She is currently “with child.” Said child is a girl who likes to kick Cowles’s belly button from the inside of said belly. This looks funny from the outside . . . said child (daughter) has now arrived in May. Cowles’s first book of poems, Eleanor, Eleanor, not your real name, won the Brunsman Prize and was published by Bear Star Press in 2008. She has recent and forthcoming poems in Word for/ Word, drunken boat, Interim, Bombay Gin, Forklift: Ohio, Colorado Review, and Versal.