Michael P. McManu
The strongest wind
is one that returns again,
after you believed it was gone—
reductionist yet reticent in memory.
Limbs snap and crack.
From an unseen fire comes the smell of smoke.
Bears awaken, hungry
for berries on the hillside
and deer rotting in declivities—
bloated, gut-shot, the unforgettable scent
a song that never goes away.
Here the hawks ignore gravity.
They ride the thermals,
searching for chickens feeding
on the only dirt they will ever know.
Bravo, bravo, bravo, I whisper,
I am in the company
of wild things,
where living or dying is the necessary order,
however chaotic the dream.
Some claim it. Others blame it.
But once trampled, is a flower ever the same?
When I am broken
from sleep, I come here searching
for moral ablution. Here,
in this forest, when teenagers blow themselves up,
they turn into fallen leaves and no one is hurt.
This is not holiness. This is the dreaming
about the golden-eyed god
who must commit suicide as penance
for whom it has created.

<address><em>Michael's work has appeared in numerous publications such as Louisiana Literature, Texas Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, Prism International, The MacGuffin, Pennsylvania Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Texas Review, Burnside Review, and O-Dark-Thirty. He is the recipient of an Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Michael's poetry has received Pushcart Prize nominations as well as The Virginia Award and The Oceans Prize.  His short story Boot Camp is forthcoming in Per Contra. Michael</em><em> attended Penn State and The University of Louisiana at Monroe and is a Navy Veteran and service-connected Disabled Veteran.</em></address>


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