Two Poems


According to Aristotle,
it’s the nature of nature
to do nothing uselessly
and the nature of desire
not to be satisfied,

so after the election,
narrowest nail biter
or humiliating landslide,
why stew and fume?

If Aristotle’s right
and reform can begin
only with desiring
nothing more, why not

join the jubilant
in desiring less,
especially for others?

Under the Auspices

Five common crows harassing a hawk,
broad-winged red-tail coasting updrafts
above a field of cedar cut
and piled high for winter burning,

drive him to evasive action,
sudden nosedives, steep chandelles,
loop the loops to lose a lunch,
as he, with every bank and roll,

diagrams a dogfight move,
and who knows what could be at stake here,
hunting rights or nest protection,
unless it’s just a matter of fun,

what Corvidae do on a blue afternoon,
no harm meant, as the first two tire
and peel off, then two more, until there’s one
alone on his tail, a chunky black suffix

in the daredevil grammar of classical sky.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephen Cushman is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. His latest book of poems is Heart Island, and he is serving as general editor of a new edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, now in progress.


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