width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses



Renee Carter Hall

Note to My Readers

Maybe you don't read poetry.
Maybe this clear singing on paper
is a sound you have heard
only dimly, if ever,
muffled in the dull thuds of rhythm,
singsonged into a rhyming trance.

But my songs are more pennywhistle than opera, 
more slow drum than symphony.
And if you've ever breathed in
the gray mist of a wet November
and thought it a fine day,

if you've ever wondered
what the mice must think,
or dreamt of speeches from the dead,

if you would swear
by all things holy
that stones hum to themselves
on hot, still days,

if beauty to you is
the cracked calluses of gnarled hands
and love, the sweetness of silence,

then you already know
what I do.

 2007 Renee Carter Hall


When I come out onto the deck, he freezes,
tail curled over his back, the look in his eyes
like a daydreaming student who's been asked a question
and everyone is waiting.

How many times have I startled him
away from my flowerpots, his nose smudged with soil?
What corn he doesn't eat, he plants--
green stalks wave in every corner of the yard,
places I can't get anything to grow.

He isn't planting it, of course, but burying--
keeping kernels by for thinner days.
He doesn't trust that I will be here
to replace the cob when it stands bare.
Plump little dancer, gray peasant of the backyard,
I am too uncertain a god for his faith.

 2007 Renee Carter Hall

Crane 645

           (For the children of war, past and present)

At first, the folds are clumsy,
then sure,
careful creases precise
and born of practice.

Paper cranes soar in a sterile room
as her body changes,
as hair falls with the cherry blossoms
and childhood's springtime withers
to winter's bare-boned branches.

Fingers tremble, press against paper
wings of candy wrappers, golden foil,
wings printed with names of medicines
to save a body poisoned by brilliance
too bright for eyes to bear.

Six hundred forty-two,
six hundred forty-three.
She tells herself
at one thousand,
the gods will keep their promises,
will grant her peace,
will make her well.
Six hundred forty-four.

Somewhere, the crane's eyes open
as hers close.
In paper it is half-finished,
in body and soul complete.
Somewhere, its wings unfold,
each feather touched with light.

Somewhere, peace rises
into flight.

 2007 Renee Carter Hall

Author's note: Sadako Sasaki, the inspiration for this poem, was two years old when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on her home city of Hiroshima, Japan. After she contracted leukemia from the lingering radiation, a friend told her of the legend that those who fold a thousand origami cranes are granted a wish. Although accounts vary on the exact number of cranes she was able to complete, the most popular story says she folded 644 cranes before her death at age 12, with her classmates finishing the rest.

There is a statue of Sadako at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, with her arms upraised and holding a golden crane. The paper crane has become a symbol of peace, and every year schoolchildren around the world fold thousands of cranes that are draped at the base of the statue on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.


It is said that Emily Dickinson once pressed
a white lily into a stranger's hands
by way of an introduction.
How wonderful if we should
give flowers instead of names
and titles and occupations--instead,
a tiger lily, a crimson rosebud,
a daisy, a lotus, or sprigs
of rosemary, sprays
of apple blossoms.  I think

I would be one of the little
wildflowers that grows unnoticed
by the roadside, a tiny bloom
of purple, perhaps, in a tangle
of weeds and discarded cans,
the kind that simply shows up
on the edges of lawns and corners
of fields, the kind children pluck
by handfuls at recess to give
to their teachers, the kind

that has no societies or greenhouses
or famous paintings--only those who stop
on an otherwise ordinary day
and notice, and look a moment,
and walk on feeling that one square inch,
at least, of the world
is new and bright,
at least today.

 2007 Renee Carter Hall


Not all elves left
the world of men.
Out of love or pity,
some stayed, and traded
the ethereal form
for these--

white rings at soft black noses,
ears held wide to the cries of the world,
cloven hooves lifted delicately
clear of fallen leaves,

in the slow, golden procession
of late afternoon.

 2007 Renee Carter Hall

About the Poet:

Renee Carter Hall's poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Red River Review, Facets, and Small Brushes; she is also currently at work on a full-length collection of new and selected poems to be published in 2007. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001 and is also known as the former editor of Limestone Circle, a poetry journal that published thirteen issues before closing in 2002. Renee lives with her husband in West Virginia and can be contacted at renjef@frontiernet.net