The Tower Journal

Phil Montenegro


The snow rumors of mice,
their small hearts ticking
in the field. Coyote hears
them. He bows his head
as if lowered for prayer
into the blue-dark snows
until a smell emboldens
him to strike, to sunder
by instinct quick as a ghost.
He lived so close

Yards away a man studies
the scene admiring coyote
for his steeled endurance,
a trait they share together.
The man is pure weather.
His hands, raw and gnarled,
display patterns of a story
only he can make sense of.
History like a river curled
to the real world

A stitching of footprints
has led coyote to this place
of austerity. He is curious
to find the house, the man
this far into silence. Alert
but daring he paces in,
certain that some territory
is beyond men, unreachable
by their will to comprehend.
it almost let him in.

Coyote’s shadow lengthens
in the snow. The man’s shadow
spills from the porch. Separate
animals standing, staring in clear,
wordless dialogue with each other
at the implacable, formless weather
composing itself inside them.


Here they measure August
by the height of the corn
and place bets on the year
a weathered barn will collapse.

The height of the corn
tells the boys they've grown
since their barn lapsed in,
the stiles left leading nowhere.

The boys have grown
to heft an axe and drive to town,
but their styles lead them apart
and all suspect the gravity inside them.

They answer the grain of wood with an axe
buried in the flanks of Maple and Oak.
Each suspect the gravity inside them,
but only chop the wood and wait.

The oldest buries his sentiments first
and goes at the change of the season,
the wood chopped, the waiting done,
the frost patinating the grass in white.

When a father sees his sons change
he'll question persistence in everything,
the growth of the grass, the down of the hen,
the words raised in the plume of his breath.

What persists are the markings of place.
A mile from town, easing from the pedal,
the youngest will read these words and laugh:
objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

From here the farthest place is here.

Copyright © 2014 Phil Montenegro

Phil MontenegroPhil Montenegro grew up drawing and writing. And he's still at it. He is also a harmonica player and editor of IS Arts and Lit Magazine. Time and again he'll leave Walt Whitman poems on stranger's answering machines.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014