Alaska Shorts: Three Poems by Anne Caston

And Though God’s Eye

on the sparrow, this one
nevertheless falls today to earth
having dashed itself head-long
the windowed wall of my study, a
it did not see in time to save

The unbroken wing folds.
The blank black bead of an eye
looks skyward.

By the time a trowel can be found
in the musty shed with which to
the small, newly-dead, first stars
overhead along the edges of space.
The mute rooster of my neighbor’s

weathervane swings mournfully on
the spine
of his roof, quivering north, northwest.

Trees begin to shiver in a
and pink roses balance on their
tall stems
dropping pale petals over the
resting-place. The evening tide
shushes in and out

along the Atlantic side of the
In the God-blink of an eye, he

At The Parting Of The Soul From The Body
A Man Has Suffered A Long Time

now, for him, the prickly
nettle of the body and its ambient

Gone too, the doused
      dreams, slurred wakings, a life

measured in pills. Done now, the daily
      ritual of wasting, the ruined flesh

over and over from repose
      and conveyed, feet-first, into the argent
and burred clicks of the MRI. Gone
      for good: catheters, syringes, the ferrous
after-taste of food on the tongue. Absent:
      clock, watch, metronome, pulse.

as he’s known it, slides
      into oblivion’s iron-white hand-

slipped from the mortal hand
      into the wine-dark casks of eternity.

me, Father, for I have
      wanted to say to the Psalmist

priest and to the whole wretched
      scripture-wrecked Body of Christ,

Oh, for once, will you
just shut up.

The Fix

            for Jonas (1939 – 1999)


What if I told you my heart
travels towards you always,
     still, wildflowers and purple thistle in my

to make up for
the pristine lilies I sent   
     when you were buried?

Would it please
you to know     
     I opened your coin-purse yesterday

and emptied the
silver dimes you’d saved
     since 1961 into a beggar’s hat?

Or that I gave
the neighbor’s boy your slingshot and the rotted
     bag of worn-smooth pebbles you called Goliath stones?

I kept your
prayer shawl, though
     I do not pray. Nights now, as firelight

low in the stone
hearth, it warms me
     to remember you and how, for hours, we

law and scripture
and whether afterlife existed
     and, if it did, where we’d like to see
Hitler spend it.


When Death swept
through last century and stripped you
     of your little wool jacket with the

star your mother
had sewn on by hand, you
     vowed to have it out with God one day.

I hope you
do.  I hope you fix God in your steely
     sights and let Him have it good.


I’m glad that we
were foolish then enough to lie
     for hours in the dew-laced river-

grass and mud,
watching for falling
     stars so we could wish the world

whole enough that
we could be
     together – Jew and not-Jew – without trouble.

But even if it
isn’t – never will be – I am thankful
     you were in the world with me

and that we lived
that century well
     as we could between the two of us.

Sabbath twilights now, I’ve washed 
      at this sink, watching darkness sweep

wiping the
evening gold and rose from the sky
      and throwing its shadow over every thing

I’ve tried
to get by heart: the too-unruly lawn gone gray,
      the river’s face a sable blank, the
crooked half-wall
vanished.  I’ve watched the lights
      come warmly up in other people’s houses

everything I think I know plunges
       blackly out of sight.

If, one day,
the sky goes wholly-dark
      I want to believe that, somewhere,
beyond the
old blood-gospels of sacrifice
      and slaughter, of ritual and religion,
the small
firelights of our own time and space, a new
      gospel of love will open before us
there –
wherever we might find ourselves –
      like a new tongue we’ve want most to

Anne Caston is a professor and former nurse. She was as 1996-97 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the 1999-2000 Jenny McKean Moore Fellow in Poetry at the George Washington University in Washington DC. Currently, Anne Caston is core faculty in poetry in the Low-Residency M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is author of Flying Out With The Wounded (NYU Press, 1997) Judah’s Lion (THP, 2009), and Prodigal (Aldrich Press, 2014). She lives with her husband, Ian Gallimore, in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

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3 thoughts on “Alaska Shorts: Three Poems by Anne Caston”


    Lovely, Anne. Love the irreverence of "Office…" A lot. Great to read your work. Happy Holidays. We fly on Thursday, to Colorado, but back in a week. ~ Sandy

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