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Delaware Poetry Review

Martin Galvin


I started up a toad as I dug out
a weedbreak so the daisies and roses
could have a chance in this rapacious world,
a toad the size of an infant's thumb, maybe the first
of her time to be startled into memory this spring,

she squat-jumped toward the neutral ground,
welcoming her hungers the way teenagers do,
keeping her unblinking eyes on me, who must
have seemed a monster mouth and on his turf.
And then, like tightly funneled sand, she began

her backing into the camouflaging dirt,
slowly, ever so slowly, taking
her haunches underground while those eyes,
wise as survival, kept track of hungers she
might have guessed were bigger than hers.

She wriggled until the darkness took her in
and though my earthbent stare tried hard to hold her,
she became in a wink a hint of browner dirt.
As I watched she left me there alone,
and let me know a secret for my eyes:

how earth tied we can see a little bit,
then nothing much, then everything at once.

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As the weather changes
This house whinnies.
I tell it that's ok old boy
Settle down I understand.
I tell it I'm afraid too
Especially in the dark
To hear it say so much.
I tell it knock it off now.
I'm terrified. I'll learn calculus
If I hear another word.
The house as usual ignores me,
Creaks and groans at the winter
It knows is coming, at the fall
Already arrived, the spring's
Ridiculous requirements

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This is so:
A god in a painting swallowed a man.
The god took the man as once I saw
a heron take a fish,
Halfway down his gullet, the end of the man,
The fish, still trying to be free.

Had that painting moved, as once
by a river I watched a heron eat a fish,
The bird god might have tried to make the journey
Easier by slapping the man on the water hard
And taking him up again to stun him again and again
Something like a movie I saw once where a man

Was shot from anger
and then was shot for love.
I walked out of the gallery with a stomach ache,
But I knew I'd be back at that painting again,
That I'd walk by the river, convinced each time
By its beauty, the easy way it carried my life.

About the Poet

A rationale: When I was 11 or so, I played left-handed second base for my grammar school team. My strike zone was about six inches so I walked a lot, almost always. I also played basketball in a league where each player had to be 4'11" or shorter. That's why I write poetry, a sport in which the underdogs not only sometimes but often win. The poet resides in Chevy Chase, Md. and Ocean View, De.