Archives for posts with tag: spirit

By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

…From New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1992) © 1992, Mary Oliver, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Illustration: “Grasshopper,” interchangeable jewelry available for just $2.37 from

by Rick Smith

The morning air bursts

with bird conversation

dialogue and incantation
debate and invitation.

Wren is drunk with company
and sudden purpose.

Next door,

in a cottonwood,

a mockingbird
a cell phone

ringing in the wild.
* * * * *
ghost wren

dreaming on a cable


and still

like a shadow

about to dart

into a windless space

flesh and fiber


the tension of wound steel

a cello in the night

an ordinary cello


in a windless room
* * * * *
Something dangerous,

a red-tailed hawk

and coming fast,

like wind

off Lake Michigan.
Wren, lost in dreams,

freezes, off-guard.

The hawk

snaps a yard rat

off a clothesline

not ten feet away.

disguises anxiety.
Wren breaks out

of dream time,

arguing with unruly ghosts
* * * * *
A grey wren

foolish enough

to believe in Indian summer

stares into a black

and gritty wind

shakes with every gust,

imagines a subtle hand

on a dimmer switch

in a night

slow descending.
When wren is absent

where does she go?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Smith began writing under the guidance of Michael Casey at Solebury School in Pennsylvania. Close family friendships and Carl Sandburg and Lenore Marshall also made a lasting impact on Rick’s life choices. He went on to study with Anthony Hecht at Bard College, George Starbuck, Marvin Bell and Frank Polite at the University of Iowa, and Sam Eisenstein at Los Angeles City College. His poems are published widely in anthologies and magazines such as New Letter, Onthebus, Blueline, Hanging Loose, Pinyon, Eclipse, Paper Street, Lummox, Rattle, Rhino and Main Street Rag. His book of poetry, Hard Landing, (Lummox Press, 2010), is a lyrical tribute to the mystical “wren,” a character with characteristics not unlike the human spirit.

Purchase HARD LANDING from Lummox Press or at

Listen to Rick Smith read “Little King” from the collection at youtube.