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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Melissa Tuckey

“Pittsburgh Bridge Collapses Hours Before Biden Visits to Discuss Infrastructure”

Nothing can stop the bellicose engine hurling round and round above our heads—spotlight trailing the ground below as if from some remote guard tower. Our coyote silence is broken. A yellow dog scrambles in the dirty snow. It is late. We all know it. Some of us are walking for pleasure in the darkness. Some of us are casting out demons from hospital beds. From the edge of town, tents have been erected against the bitter cold. A stream runs beneath the ice seeking lower ground. Fish huddle at the bottom of a stream conserving energy—some have burrowed into sediment. Bridges are communist. Medical care. Highways. To show up early is to be eager. To show up late is to miss the whole first act.


Believe young people who say they are triggered. Check for bombs. Keep hiding places clear. Tell them they have a right to be safe. Believe nape of your neck, the back of knees. Believe moths and butterflies and hummingbirds. Believe bees. Believe ice and dirty snow. Believe in the intimacy of birds. Believe children, their faces red from packing snow. Believe libraries. The ministry of sound. Listen to water, the hymn of our connected lives, the way sunlight moves through the shadow of trees. Trust mountain. Trust solid shoes. Trust darkness and the life of the soul.

This Wind Tonight

Heavy with war

so much more than this house will bear

lights flicker and we lose

our connection to the world


Power out   daylight in Ukraine and the rain is not rain

it’s a shelling that takes

a row of houses, a public library

Musicians circle a crater left by a bomb to play

the music of resistance

yes, there will be singing  

In Russia defiant voices sing out

Ukraine’s Anthem

as peace activists are dragged away

& young people circle riot police like schools of fish resisting


How to sing out to disappearing trees

the uprising of flames, the temper of ocean,

Hemlock in the glen holding the banks of a rising stream


Not rain, this weather, the fully articulate

anger of men who crave


The map is hexed with strategies

A vortex pulls us in


power out spirits enter our house

oak walnut the bones of this house

rock back and forth, keening

this candlelight, a circle of prayer

the frequency of blood pulsing

this warm body so loud it startles


and I am thinking how

short the history

of electric, bridges and lights

and cars and power, medicine and poverty

our humming electric fridge


How loud, the war


It is late, we walk outdoors

where a few neighbors

gather to watch the disappearing light

& the clouds illuminate

the distance of stars, and moon

like a ring or a boat rises


this quiet I wish for you, Ukraine


Melissa Tuckey is author of Tenuous Chapel, which was selected by Charles Simic for the First Book Award for ABZ Press, and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (UGA). Individual poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Poetry Review, Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Witness, and elsewhere. Her honors include a winter fellowship at Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and writing awards from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Ohio Arts Council. Tuckey is an emeritus fellow at Black Earth Institute and served as founding Co-Director of Split This Rock. She lives in Ithaca, NY.

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