Poems by Thomas Milligan

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All Round

by Thomas Milligan

From Canary Winter 2015-16

Tom is a native of the Upper Susquehanna sub-basin, from which these poems appeared. He's recently relocated to the Puget Sound watershed in the Cascadia subduction zone.

Arriving depends on
having left,
full moon on new moon,
the sleeping seed on snow.

All this
business and breathing
of selves:
this crow cry, this snail silence,
and all this empty, all embracing,
all this winking awake and away
amid all these leaving leaves—
this whole world, and worlds away,
and all their whirling ways.

Something here to make me think
of prayer wheels
spinning in a great
unsayable Still:

the hunting heron,
the kingfisher’s cry,
the fish that dare the surface
all the same.




Our Real Name

by Thomas Milligan

From Canary Fall 2016

The stillness of forests
is sirenlike;
it can reach deeper
than any familiar voice.

When we are senseless
with trying
to seize what moves,
with trying to make up
names for ourselves
out of a liquid earth.

And more is always moving
than we will understand,
and we cannot
help hurrying,
we cannot help our making
too much noise.

Then there is
a sound that stops us—
some small quadruped
underneath lastsummer leaves
learning to be the ground—

a sound like surprised
and probably hurt,
a sharp cry of consternation
and alarm.

There is always
ice in it,
the keen of grieving
and ruin,
the very voice of woe

which stops us
when we hear it,
for we know now we are marked,

and we know we have heard
the sound of our
real name.




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