Free Range Poetry

despair of the snow man

I stand sentry on this small hill, pine-girded, snow-crusted,
commanding my troops, frozen as I am, my smaller
brothers (and one sister) and the
snow-fleshed animals in sweaters they do not need,
any more than I require this top hat to keep me warm.

If anything, I keep it cool, fresh for my successor.

We have been standing for days without action
keeping still as the cold
waiting for the enemy to show himself.

For six days, my comrades – two snow babies, a snow woman
(hardly more than a girl, really),
four snow rabbits in silly vests, and a lumpy blob meant to be a squirrel
(you can tell from the acorn) – for six days we have waited.
We have been cold a long time.

School has started.

The cold carries cries of joyous recess across frozen fields, and they are not coming back.

In the glitter of the distant January sun, my
sagging hat gives the lie to my whispered encouragement.

“Be strong. Stay cold. They will return.”
But they are not coming back.
We know that, now.

School has started.

Or perhaps they will return, running,
inappropriate shoes squishing through the melting meadow
to find our hollow clothes,
sopping sweaters and our rotting, mouse-gnawed noses,
and my best top hat,
still cool,
inscrutable to the last.

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a noise in the attic

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the boxes and baffles are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your flashlight beam so bright?"
"It's only a mouse, wee timorous thing,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the old books and hatpins are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your candlestick so bright?"
"It's a only snake, with a taste for mice,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the costumes and clap-boards are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your lantern lit so bright?"
"It's an owl, with a penchant for snakes,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the old shoes and secrets are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your electric torch so bright?"
"It's only a cat, in an owl-feathered hat,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the dust and diamonds are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your hurricane lamp so bright?"
"It's a fox, with a cat-tailed grin,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the furs and the memories are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your penlight beam so bright?"
"It's just a coyote, with a fox-fur stole,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the tchotchkes and clutter are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your lighter that flickers so bright?"
"It's just a bear, lying down for a nap,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the dolls and the doilies are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your beacon that shines so bright?"
"It's a tree, grown tall with leaves and all,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

Something went thump, or bang, or squeak,
Where the treasures and dreams are kept,
And I was too scared to go up for a peek
So I sent up the old man instead.

"What do you see?" I asked of him,
"With your eyes that gleam so bright?"
"A giraffe, and he's eating those leaves,"
He said, "no cause for a fright."

"No cause for a fright?" I asked, aghast.
"There's a giraffe in my attic up there!"

"No, no cause for a fright," he said,
"Unless he wakes up that bear."

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