Local resident Tom Hayes, a member of the Cazenovia Writer's Group, recently won 21st place out of 2,441 entries in the annual Writer's Digest Poetry contest sponsored by Writer's Digest. The contest was open to all who compose a 32-line poem, rhymed or not. Hayes won a gift certificate, a compendium of Writer's Markets and was published in the top 50 poems of the year in Writer's Digest.
By Tom Hayes
You would think I might have known,
That five of the eight had flown before,
Long necked Northers, hurtling east toward the farmer’s pond,
Beside the corn field ripe with stalks, fast food for flying.
Or the corn itself, sucked into the gaping mouth of the combine,
Gulping five rows at a time, leaving stubbly remains to speckle the hill;
The barren corn bin at the roadside stand, whacked hard by Cousin Lyle,
Flattened to kindling, “End of Season.”
And my deep hardwood hedgerow, which burgeoned green on the Fourth,
Became speckled with red, then green burst orange,
Now a skeletal frame, waving gaunt arms against gray
Like an X-Ray apparition, flesh gone to bone.
And the geese hold communion amidst ghost rows, scarecrow stalks,
They mutter and plan escape from furrows edged with ice.
In tacit formation they soar past my roof, black on gray sky
They exchange knowing glances. Yes, nearly time.
What do they know that I might only guess,
those same five who flew before,
From the year of the early snow, when they grouped on my pond,
Snickering at my snow blower standing idle.
One so much the next, and the next beyond that,
Him or her, who could discern without parting tailfeathers
To apply a pinch of salt.
But whither might they go and when, is the query.
But for now, I envy them their gallant formations
Flying lakeward, cornward, homeward, each dressed the same,
Exact in coat and zipper, anonymous in their hundreds
They leave me here, head tilted back, eyes watered from the cold,
A year older, none the wiser, jealous of their freedom,
Aching to know their single minded need, their higher calling,
And to escape the icy breath of death
Crawling now, up the back of my neck.