Matthew Haughton – Four Poems

In the Company of a Working Bird

I’m watching a patch
under a tiny bird’s
throat tremble
like a kettledrum.
He’s got something
to say; commentary
on the taste of bread
or the weather,
clear skies are better.
And yet, the way
his little eye seems
cut by wind
suggests more than
its grain of wisdom.
He sings—
I listen. The shape
of his body
becomes sparse lines
left by ink
in my notebook.


Rain on Okra Leaves

for Sherry Chandler

It comes down in clear beads—
slipping off the veins, draping
the flat leafy ends.
You can hold the moment
when a storm begins,
like okra leaves tilting slightly
in their soil,
out in the garden behind
an old storm shelter.
The cicadas lift their wings
just as easily;
the loosestrife unfastens
in the shucking wind.
When rain comes, the okra sings.


Stand in the Stillness of Woods

When you are a boy and stand in the stillness of woods
which can be so still that your heart almost stops beating…
-RP Warren

It doesn’t take a man to stand in the stillness of woods.
It takes the nature of a boy to feel his own nature
leaving him;
to stare into the vast tree-lines and recognize,
the continuation of limbs is something he can never
part ways from.
He must stand still long enough to receive a sense
of what his life will become,
standing on the other side of life —
until a pack of wild dogs circle him.
He’ll feel his heart beating but he won’t move
until those dogs run off,
scatter-tailing back into the underbrush.
Years later, he will be grateful they stayed invisible
hunting behind the tips of leaves,
traveling in day-shadows for most of a lifetime.


News of a Fallen Deer on the Property

My Father calls, it seems
a deer died behind
the shed,
a great big sucker…
unnoticed until a dog
had to be run off
the property.
After a full winter’s
length, the deer
was half-gone—
picked away.
It takes me all day
to a find a home
for my worrying.
Final moments come
like whiplash,
the death-march
out of the woods,
the tuft of grass
where his head fell,
or the thought
of my Father,
worrying whether
to bury him
or leave him be.