“Evening Mahinapua Creek, Hokitika,” oil on canvas, by Charles Blomfield, 1912.

by Justin Hunt

Pollen dusts our yard. The oaks, heavy
with seed, rake the past from wind,

and an old friend’s voice comes to me,
the words she spoke before she died:

I think of home every day, every day,
though she was ninety-six, had left

the prairie at twenty-five. Every day,
every day, gurgles the creek below,

its throat yellow and hoarse, and I wish
many things were otherwise.

Like my friend, I’ve lost home. I fear
I’ll lose again. Something’s missing,

and I’m impatient with myself,
disgusted I have no lines for this,

only the feeling I’m the tenor in a Puccini
duet, and my wife the soprano,

and those we’ve loved the orchestra.
Oh, how we sing and flail and blow,

how we strike our high Cs, how we bellow
our fires but for a moment, then drift

down nameless creeks, on yellow swirls.

Justin Hunt’s poetry has won several awards, most recently 1st place in the Porter Fleming Literary Competition, 2nd place in the River Styx and Strokestown (Ireland) international contests, and honorable mentions and commendations in numerous other competitions. Hunt’s work also appears or is forthcoming in Five Points, The Florida Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Solstice, and Barrow Street, among other publications.