Poems by CB Follett

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A Cry Breaks the Silence

by CB Follett

From Canary Spring 2015

CB lives in the Mt. Tamalpias watershed in Marin County, CA.

Into the silence of dawn breaking open
there is a small sound, almost a cry,
lone and plaintive; enough to raise hairs
on your nape, enough to call you outdoors.

Only once
hanging alone in the lightening air.
Had you really heard it?
And then another, not quite as loud,

but insistent enough to lead you on.
There is the path of concern
and its shore of fear. The unknown
lies out in the silence —

We have a coyote in our neighborhood:
newcomer. Probably came down
from the Headlands and crossed the land bridge
over the freeway. We see it occasionally,

getting thinner, a little less steady.
Whatever cries in the silence needs to take care.
Cats and small dogs should stay closer to home.
Even the skunks and raccoons that come

for water or garbage need beware, and the deer
that tic tacs on the road looking for roses —
this is no place for any of them. Danger lurks
in the cultivated: cars, big dogs, men with guns.

Go back, I say, back to the ridge line between here
and the ocean. Plenty of rabbits and voles
for coyotes; berries and puddles for the others,
grasses and meadowlarks.

Whatever cries in the dawn silence is living
on borrowed time. So is the coyote. We are all
living on borrowed time. We are all making
those small cries at the breaking of the day.

Bolinas Lagoon

by CB Follett

From Canary Spring 2017

Out of marsh grass
seemingly empty
the white shawls
rise into air
and fly.

Good Animals

by CB Follett

From Canary Spring 2013

Where usually four or five circle,
yesterday a vast kettle of vultures
scoured the sky, winding their search
in a tight knot of wings.

I expect to see it in todayís paper:
dead man, lost child, something big enough
to draw the eager naked heads.

Animals that need to cross the road
canít seem to learn
the danger of the warning hum,
grassless no-manís-land, constant
rumble of gears and tires.

Thinking we are the only
ones who count,
we are not good animals.

One Bird Falling

by CB Follett

From Canary Spring 2017

A bird falls,
spinning in widening circles,
like a spiral losing its tension,
or a pebble dropped in a pond.

The bird is already lost,
some distant shot, or a falcon
pierced then let it slip, and it falls
pulling the sky after it.
Like egg shells collecting again
in a film run backwards.

The waters of the pond reflect its coming.
The waters of the pond open
like a passage and welcome the bird in.
Not a bird now, but a flutter
of loosened feathers, a pirouette
adrift on a pewter eye.

No one can put this bird back together.
No one can uncrack the egg
of this world. The heart
flutters against itself. The bird,

which has fallen into the water
has sunk from sight, the feathers have drifted
and spilled over the distant weir.
The rift closes over itself
and the surface, again, is smooth.

Tentative Passage

by CB Follett

From Canary Fall 2017

Across the highway of your brows
a tiny spider makes its way
frail legs and brown hair intermingle
as it advances its horizontal route
and I
pretending to listen to you
am caught in the web of its wake
as it stitches together your brows
creating its own intricate spanwork.

The Buffalo and the Red Rock

by CB Follett

From Canary Winter 2016-17

There was a time when the land ran black with buffalo, when their hooves cut the ground into pocks of dry holes, when the dust of their passing occluded the sky, and the sun was lost through the long afternoons, turning the air to a rust red, and the noise was like rivers headlong to the sea, shaking the continents, and the buffalo were held sacred, driven deep in the myths of the plains, supplying robes and tents, meat and weapons, wool and stories. Their heads became headdresses; the people wore their horns, the poll, the shaggy masks in ceremonies, calling the gods out of the hills, and the red rock gave up its color for the walls of caves, for the dusting of petroglyphs on high canyon walls – the buffalo owned the land and by their grace shared it with two-legged brothers and sisters. If a white buffalo moved with the herd, she came from the North, carrying prayers on her shoulders. It was an honor to walk with her, to sort her breath from your own, the white edges of her eyes, the thick white coils of her mantle, the soft white hairs of her belly. She carried the voices of the gods, brought snow to rest the land, brought out of the red rock, tender shoots from the lick of the wind, corn from the sun, and during those seasons when she did not move with the herds, she whispered her stories on the wind to carry for new generations of the animal-man, but when man took and took more without thanks, without reverence, the white buffalo was seen less and the people were not strong enough, savage enough to protect the herds; and the thunder of hooves, the hard dance-points against packed earth began to diminish; the voices of the gods no longer carried on westerlies, no longer heaped on the wise shoulderbones of the elders, were not passed to strong youth, and the song of the buffalo was lost to the plains, and the pale men who began to spread like butter over the land of the buffalo could not see the spaces no longer filled by musk and whispered stories, did not know that the loss of nations hung in the air.


In some tribes, infants who died were thought to have been cheated of life. They were buried inside a tree in order to share its living.

by CB Follett

From Canary Fall 2016

Wombed cold in a cavity of Black Cottonwood
a child too young to catch a loose soul from the wind,
you were given to the secrets
of trees, sealed with tendrils and rough bark,
to take your living moments from wood, to gain
moisture and the small company of beetles,
to hear the sap as it courses
along cambium rivers, those tunnels near your left ear
that carry tomorrow from deep drinking roots
up along your sheltered body
to the knuckled joints of branches.

Long ago your flesh fell prey
to the mandibles of scavenging things, and cold,
and high winds flayed your past from you,
leaving alabaster bones doubled in a Q,
in the polished hollow of this tree.
The furrowed trunk closed round,
carrying bits of you upward toward resinous buds.

Someday, long from now,
when your hollow weakens the tree beyond standing,
when it breaks at the knees, where you lie curled
in quiet, then will your old bones fall out
into leaf rustles and you will be seen again,
a clutter of bone parts, no longer connected
but reluctant to let go.

First appeared in Echoes and then in author's book Visible Bones (Plain View Press).

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