Issue > Poetry
Michael P. McManus

Michael P. McManus

Michael P. McManus has received a Poetry Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, The Virginia Award from The Lyric, The Narrative Poem Award from Byline Magazine, and The Ocean’s Prize from Sulphur Literary Review, as well as two Pushcart Prize nominations. He has published his poems in numerous publications including Epiphany, ONTHEBUS, Midwest Quarterly, Atlanta Review, Louisiana Review, Rattle, Texas Review, West Wind Review, Adirondack Review, Reed, and Soundings East, among others.

Us

Tonight behind the darkened house,
the swamp begins to build its house of sounds,
which is where a bullfrog's fluent brogue
hides its Buddha from the Spanish Moss.
And then, in part because it's deeper dark,
ten-million cicada begin to march
en masse up rickety stairs to this screened-in porch,
filling, too, with mosquitoes through holes neglected
like the plank boards creaking beneath restless soles,
which shift uneasily six feet below these animal eyes.
Such sight is why I hunger for the Wood duck
adrift like a teapot in the cattails,
where its seahorse-styled neck disappears
beneath the water, only to betray  
that permanence when it reappears.  
Come to wade along the shore,
many-tined, myth-like, but not a beast,
the whitetail stoops to drink the moon's reflection
that shimmers in the shallows,
each step a precious chant,
whose mantra is luminous in my mind,
where hidden in a tree the owl is the tree,  
but not its shape, as it listens
to invisible poems written by the wind,
whose verses, perhaps, will sing to something difficult;
just now the bough broken in the tempest,  
or this muddied photograph with your eternal smile
that I no longer care to clean.

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