width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
Winter / Spring 2013


Mark Vogel


Witness at the Revolution

March seeds, aggressive crowds, wait patiently,
still intact, determined survivor frenzy ready
to erupt from dissolving snow.  The light 
warms deep within moist black soil, and they stir,
unafraid of machete, weed-eater, Roundup.
Beginnings grow ragged by May, and ironweed,
honey locust, and blackberry weave and dance 
in the pasture.  Fat sleek ground hogs make trails,
and sniff pepper flowers beginning to fruit. 
Baby rabbits roll from hidden nests. 
In July a mower blunts jungle to civility.
At the edges pokeweed grows monstrous
tall, bright purple.  Morning glory comes from
nowhere.  At night the woods live close—
eyes looking back.  A forgotten owl speaks again
from the ridge, and everywhere/every minute
emboldened cats bring to the porch gifts
of sparrows, chipmunks and snakes.  Shifting
boundaries bend, waiting for labels—
in Wilmington alligators creep up creeks into yards.
Armadillos, in herds, start the hike north.  Zebra
mussels come all the way from the Orient.  Further
north in Arlington, Virginia, without a sound,
roots of oaks reach—quietly cracking concrete
foundations built to last forever.

© 2013 Mark Vogel


The Current Is Too Much

Air cleansed cool Appalachian mist 
above this bright river, so a beach ball
bounces without gravity, then flies
to escaping channels.  But fearless savior
of sisters runs without thinking over
mossy rocks, reaching.  Then feet are gone—
quick downstream in flow moving elsewhere,
no time to call for Dad, fast hundred feet
downstream inside silent rush, then submerged,
swept close to far shore, reaching for limbs—
holding beating fever, the river thrashing,
carrying away into recurring shadows
washing up down bubbling wet wild
drowning rich chaos, until a long-legged
serious father saves, carrying the pale carcass 
back to a rocky shore, where breathing like
a fish flopping, the kid re-lives frigid plunge,
transparent oxygen play, the adrenaline of drift,
struggling to forget the accepting hold,
the liquid primal heart, until the breeze
evaporates the newest minute,
leaving  no choice, but to cough awake,
crawl upright—live again on the
hardness of land. 

© 2013 Mark Vogel



Prominent Leonard in the newspaper
profile looming forward, proud
on page two, duck head framed close.
Without context his frightening red wattle,
beady eyes, black and white feathers.
Readers can’t help but see him as the clumsy
but rakish clown bluffing his way.
Yet he is more than brief caption poking fun
of his lusty head-bobbing walk,
for even when aroused—all hissing/flapping
huge wings—a history breathes more than
stubborn pride in comical duckish style.
The reporter left too soon, with fragmented
knowledge, never seeing Leonard as
fifteen pound projectile rising from the ground
to fly, then crash webbed feet first
in green water he owns.  Locked in rat trail
colorless deadlines, she couldn’t see the total
Lenny, king of pond/shore/murk/breeze,
plunging wild head deep in ancient mud,
in a meditative kingdom amongst his kind.
Still, enough is captured—Lenny again excited,
his head feathers four inches tall,
looking like Elvis on fire, though he has
never heard of Memphis, or Tupelo,
or Graceland, or burning love.  His vita,
unpublished, buried in dissolving algae
scum only he can relish.
© 2013 Mark Vogel


To Toad Murderer, My Wife

Still I want amphibians,
need them, or I cry—
for all is not sterilized
and the lawn service companies have not won
when toads own the garden,
gobbling cabbage beetles and flies.
Who doesn’t smile hearing
frogs singing in wet spring,
yet who cried out when the lumbering
car smashed grandfather toad—
and who paused to look when his guts
were thrown forward through his mouth?
The local caretaker is gone,
the voiceless representative for 
the thin skinned and warty.
No one but me gathers to mourn his death.
O grandfather, gentle hopper
sign of health down low,
now flat pancake in the driveway,
as you speed away.
© 2013 Mark Vogel


Mark Vogel has published short stories in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories. Poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and directs the Appalachian Writing Project.

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