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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Eviction; Feeding Chickens on December First; After Our Dog Dies...

By: Josh Nicolaisen


Nearly forty feet up, the dying sugar maple’s

crown has cracked midback where it leans

to lie across the shoulder of its stronger partner.

I watch out the slider as they dance in windy blue.

The leader’s broken limb like rope torn through,

sheath supported only by a final mantle or two.

I wait for it to crash through the garden window,

taking the indoor plants out, or to smash the grill

on the back deck to a cacophony of wind chimes,

icicles blown loose against the side of the house,

the snap of sap in the tossing trees. There’s that tap-tap-tap

drumming at the maple’s trunk. A pileated woodpecker

peels off chunks of bark and bashes its little red head

against the base. In these white walls below, I face

my own anxiety, pacing, waiting for the bang,

a release of heat, on this boisterous, bluebird,

five-degree day, like bugs staring out at the hammering

beak opening the walls of their decomposing home.

Feeding Chickens on December First

When I peeled back the barn door, the white bantam cock crowed

to say hello to me. The hens said something too, but I couldn’t

understand. I think they may have been whispering I love you.

Pausing on my walk back to breakfast, fresh eggs in hand,

a snowflake kissed my cheek, then two, then three,

then too many to count. The earth cut a rug beneath my feet,

rolling under my soles, even a rock noticed me.

The wind held its breath. In deference each tree stood at attention.

Then winging hope my way, God flew by as a blue jay. I craned

my head to look up and smile at nothing

in particular, at everything in general, everything in its place. Even me,

my stillness now filling some negative space and, before hiding itself

in shadow, a waning crescent winked at me

like I was supposed to be there, like for a moment

everything centered around me. I had been seen.

After Our Dog Dies, Grace Has Some Questions and Makes Some Plans

And how old would he be?

And would I be six before his next birthday?

And does anything last


And why can the sky be

so many colors

and not one of them blue,

none of them sad?

And since I know God

doesn’t come down here,

for Christmas I’m going to ask

Santa to bring him this letter.

Unless I lose a tooth first, then

it will become somebody else’s job.


Josh Nicolaisen taught English for twelve years and is currently an MFA candidate at Randolph College. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Grace and Azalea. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have recently appeared in So It Goes, Northern New England Review, The Bangalore Review, East by Northeast Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Find him at


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