Wednesday Feb 08

Ossmann-Poetry April Ossmann is the author of Anxious Music (Four Way Books, 2007), and has published poetry widely in journals and anthologies. Her awards include a 2013 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant and a Prairie Schooner Readers' Choice Award. Formerly the executive director of Alice James Books (2000 – 2008), she owns a consulting business offering manuscript editing and publishing advice to poets and is Editor-in-Residence on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe. She lives in Post Mills, VT.

The woodpecker isn’t pecking wood,
     he’s pecking the metal eave
of my standing seam roof,
     making a racket that reverberates
as echo: strutting his stuff
     for a female more piqued
than I—or staking territory
     we disagree is his, an argument
I’ve had with one or two
     of his human fellows.
But who doesn’t want
     to beat on something once
in a while—who doesn’t
     miss metal trash can lids,
the opportunity to perfect
     the perfect clamor?
Take a bat, make some noise:
     give some ears what for,
ring them inside out.


I didn’t know goutweed
   existed till I had it
smothering better perennials.
   Now I see it invading woods,
conquering fields.
Twenty-seven years here,
   and this is the first
I’ve noticed spent leaves falling
   in spring.
How can trees already
   be dispersing their dead
like so many ashes—
or do weak leaves
abandon their branches
   to strengthen the tribe?
Have I missed it
   through inattention
or denial—
   or do these leaves
know something
   others don’t? June
is too soon for doom.
   Spare me the sight
of green leaves dying,
   the thunder
of each leaf landing,
their shredding
in the maw
of the equally
ruthless mower.

This Blue

Dearest, today the sky is so blue
   it hurts. Blue like the red
of my blood, like the orange
   of oranges. Blue as sleeping
on clean sheets, more Swiss
   chocolate than I can eat—

could anything real
   be so perfectly blue?
It makes me feel too full
   and unbearably empty.
November's thousand browns,
   varied grays and evergreens,
seem superreal against it.
   I fear this blue's a debt
I can't repay: a Mercedes, Rolls,
   Cadillac. Take it back. Like you,
it's too wide, too deep, too blue—
   it's too much. It's not enough.