14-4 lythgoe-poetry

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.


A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

14.4 (Fall 2014)





Three Poems by Michael H. Lythgoe

Song with Lichen

Carolina wren, plump with song, rests musical notes
on a shrouded Bar-B-Q. Vagrant lichens dye Alaskan
yarn & fabric: yellows, blues, warm browns on a banner.
We connect to one another with words, time & weather.
Know the copse of trees changes daily, bare oak
limbs, scruffy sycamore snags—all let go a month ago,
Mortal leaves. Gray lichen feeds on granite grave stone;
a maple loses its grip in a freeze, lets go
of little red parchment pieces, yellow notes afloat
in the creek. Lime green, phosphorescent glow,
lichen colors live in moonlight; Apaches use living hues,
“wolf lichens.” Some fungus looks like death, yet lives
Spanish moss hangs, dead leaves
fall on pine straw. Seasonal patina fades.


Lichen Song II

Autumnal song stains bright brass, a warrior’s forged blade
loses its shine. December settles, drifts, an elegy of snow
on battlefields & shrines, crypts & mosques, crosses in Aleppo,
from Damascus to Jerusalem to Cairo, to Colorado—
where one son feels the pall of winter weather
like his brother across a border.
The full moon plays pensive nocturnes
on the longest night for the Winter Solstice.
A quick, short day is a “two-minute lick,” Palace Malice*
gallops a winter breeze on the rail; a horse race
clocks time, a fast pace imprints the track; take note:
signs come & go, scribbles help us let go—
colors take to the wind, winter voices choke.
Reindeer in Lapland know life is lichen under snow.

*Palace Malice was trained here in Aiken. I saw him “breeze”’ last year on the training track. He likes peppermints after he races. He won the Belmont Stakes in 2013. ~ MHL

Blue Moon & Heron

Last week of August. She lingers,
the female hummingbird who loves
to hover over and dip to sip
rose petunias. She also spars
with bees over her feeder.

The male is long gone. Hummer
ponders, perched on a tall orchid stem
tied to bamboo. Big ants lured
to the sweet water, drown.

The figs gone ripe, get boozy and fall.
Summer goes soggy. Blue Moon
appears blue over North Carolina.

A wild fire near Sun Valley
skips in lightning—roars east
to Yellowstone.

Here, Heron hunkers down
on a pier to keep me company.
She is the color of a Navajo stone.

Together we will prey.

Lt. Col. Lythgoe (USAF, Retired) has published often in journals like Christianity and Literature and has produced several collections of his works. He now resides in Aiken, South Carolina. He recently taught a seminar for Lifelong Learning on the theme of The Literature of Espionage.

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