Still Life With Woodpecker

by Jim Doss
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, August 2021
Judged by Bruce McRae

inside four walls
made of southern pine
a twelve by twelve by eight box
this diminutive universe of solitude
without a road running past
without any wires strung overhead
or buried underground
with windows that look out
onto fir branches
and brambles of raspberries

with a bowl of apples
blushing on the table
a battery powered radio
the feral darkness encroaching
like a villain ready to steal
whatever beauty remains
the blue cybernetic eye
of a paperweight weighing down
my thoughts of a past
that may or may not have existed

with a rotary telephone
plugged into nothing
but the spirits of friends and family
their silent voices
on the other side whispering
unhearable secrets
of the burdens they bear
from this life into next
the graves they’ve dug
for themselves and their loved ones

with so much I want to forget
to relive differently
as distant stars spiral into a cosmos
of swirling nebulas on the ceiling
these encyclopedias of images
arriving randomly like the tap tap tap
of a woodpecker’s beak
against a rotten tree
the treat always hidden from plain sight
but unforgettable when found

Intelligent and musical, I found this poem to be nicely balanced. Although the title suggests looking outwardly, the poet easily veers into mindfulness and reflection, the mind's eye seeing beyond the temporal. This seems to add an extra dimension to what could have been simply descriptive. --Bruce McRae