Three Poems by Rick Alley

October 20, 1933

​I’ll consider the garden reciting
daylight I can hear.
Tomato punctuation,
Bury his ashes before the rain,
the dirt seems
to say.  I cannot write
since Ben died, as if
we shared a flicker
he palmed as he went
away.  I understand
a new ghost,
but will he miss October,
the red smell of leaves?

You’re Welcome

A raven in widower’s weeds
is certain he knows
my problem.

The trouble with you
is you want to thank
God, Ben, and the ripening pears
that clip themselves
from limbs.

Why so sad and ecstatic
in your hat and Ben’s
old gloves?

The raven scratches
his branch; I’m tempted
to thank him, too.

The trouble with you
is you’re so obliged
you’ve become an astonished


Shatter the ice.
Shatter winter’s
sass-blink on
the pond.
Shatter the pond as well,
the koi like frozen
wounds.  Why not work
a hammer
against itinerant freeze?
Conjure some hot gospel,
for “melt” is shatter-slow.

My first book of poems, The Talking Book of July, was published by Eastern Washington University Press (and is now distributed by Carnegie Mellon Press) way back in 1997.  I have another book called August Machine that came out in 2013 (Finishing Line Press).  My third manuscript, Yes, The Water Trembled, has been the runner-up for the Philip Levine Award and The National Poetry Series Award (both in 2016.)  I am the slowest writer in the world.