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Carmine Starnino Carmine Starnino

Yukon Postcards


Each day is a winterward hardening.
Willow leaves browned to a suede sheen.

Ochreous ferns, rust-frail. Frayed bark.
The meadow's aromatic asceticism.

Hedges flecked with frost-charred bric-a-brac
and russet-tinged curios of vegetation.

An acreage of dimming iridescence
crepuscular with the sputtering flames

of yellow-wicked shrubs. Before my heart
slows with the fossil ardor of autumn,

the spruce's knothole is aperture enough
to send one last green thought to you.


The pussywillow's silver windchime
clatters, the sweet clover is ochre-muted,

and frost stills the bluebell's clapper.
The cinquefoil's five-note canto is off-key,

the larkspur, shy creature, is spooked
into stage fright, and the fireweed's whistle

has been thinned to a bloomless hiss.
Even the sea-susurrus is gone: the wind's

radio static in the trees, whose leaves
find the color green hard to pronounce.

But in grass that is a tawny stubble of syllables,
forget-me-nots blue-bugle your name.


The aspen grove's own smaller weather.
Its thick-as-thatch roof has hoarded

a little heat, surfeiting the September air
with the scent of thriving wild rose,

wormwood and silverberry. Everything here
furls with the voltage of summer. Violets

and lupine have lowered their guard,
smelling sunlight in the spendthrift whiff

of this paradise. Maybe I too can stay.
Go, wind, tell her what won't sadden her;

send a breeze cargoed with the aroma
of wildflowers hurrying to live forever.


They flapped down as if furtively
inked out of the very dusk. Then I saw

tearing and gulping, meat sheared
from bone, beakfuls of gristle. They picked into

exposed crevices, scissored their way
to the tongue, and some squabbled

over a pecked-out eye that had rolled
to the driveway. It was nearly unwatchable,

this collision of ravens with a moose's
hacked-off head. But like good poets

they worried out the extra words all night,
revising life to a clean, white skull.


An overnight storm and the yard
fuggy with mud's pungency. By now

whatever hasn't pooled, urinous,
in the grass' declivities, is slurry

trickling down to the rain-seared
dirt road. I miss you. This damp morning

shrubs lamp the fog: every twig
fletched with a tiny, pentecostal,

phosphor-bright leaf that brightens
when I blow on it. At my feet, the arrested

shimmer of the birch's final colors:
dun, umber, cinnabar, chartreuse.


I send you this bare ridge, stone quay
where the winter wind has moored.

I send you the immense cloud-shadows
darkening the valley floor. I send you

the willows still worded with leaves.
I send you the taste of tarnish in the air.

I send you the friable tufts of sedge
that effloresce into a copper powder.

I send you this cliff, hirsute with lichen.
I send you each crevice's exhalation

of stonecrop. I send you the bearberries
incarmining these rocks with my love.