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Clade Song 13

Landscape: Climbing

Whichever way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me — Queen


Jesse wakes up, heads downstairs,
out the back door to find,
tilted to the side of our garage,
my ladder.    
Careful climbing, I say.
Barefoot and Big-Bird-underweared,
he scuttles up the rungs,
crawls across the pebbled
Braille of asphalt shingles that leave
upon his knees red-speckled messages.
With a bolt between my lips,
wrench in hand I’m introducing a new cast
iron rooster to the roof.
Just learning the alphabet, Jesse
calls out the letters: N, E, S, W.
Cockadoodledo, he shouts.
The black metal bird pivots.
Jesse asks,  
What will my direction be?


Jesse climbs over a cattle fence
into pastureland the sun’s been grazing
all day, slowly draining the trough,
slowly tongue-shining the salt lick.
He loves the quietude of cows—such tangible
animals, all tail-flick and skin ripple,
so identifiable by hide. The one with three
black-splotched continents on a sea
of white is Josephine. She swings
the great bucket of her head, a bell on her neck
clanging. How easy it is to be chewed
into the jaws of the day, the sweet-slobber
of cow-time munching minutes into milk.






Grey Held is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing and the winner of the 2019 Future Cycle Poetry Book Prize. Three books of his poetry have been published: Two-Star General (BrickRoad Poetry Press, 2012), Spilled Milk(WordPress, 2013), and WORKaDAY (FutureCycle Press, 2019). He offers a weekly online poetry workshop (Poetry Round Table) for professional poets. He is also a literary activist, who through civic involvement connects contemporary poets with wider audiences.