(c) 2023 by Michael L. Utley

an abandoned field
an overcast sky
a cedar post
a river stone
a random trajectory
something will shatter
in a moment
when sorrow
and regret

so many thrown stones
litter the ground
around the post
missed opportunities
bad timing
a reprieve from
too brutal
to imagine
should wood
and stone

but this time

is different

my aim is true
and through
tear-blurred eyes
I find clarity at last
as the stone
strikes the post
and there is
no longer
any doubt

“The Thing on the Ground”

(c) 2017 by Michael L. Utley

There—the thing on the ground
Some insect or other
A leg detached
Dragged off by ants

It kicks in stupid
Futile spasms
Insectoid mind buzzing in
Some alien tongue
Antennae crippled

I step closer
Hovering above
As this pedestrian drama plays
Below me

“Jump, damn you!
Save yourself,
Worthless grasshopper!”

I am strangely furious at this
Pathetic thing
This helpless thing
As it dies before my eyes

“Get up! Jump!”

I feel the sting of salt
In my eyes
The tears that have
Abandoned me for eons
Doubling the writhing thing
On the ground
Trebling it in a
Saline blur

It gazes dumbly
At the sky
The clouds
The sun
All too busy in their
Mindless journey above
To notice what’s below

Another spasm
Another kick
A pebble bounces away
Mandibles scream in
Silent rage

I close my eyes
I see her
The one I couldn’t save
The doomed, damned one
Who finally broke me in two
The crippled one too far gone
The one who dragged me to the brink
And jumped

Too late

I open my eyes

The ants have returned
The thing on the ground
Kicks languidly
A shudder
A twitch

The ants swarm

“You There”

“You There”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

I can only bleed so much
but it’s never enough
to satisfy you, is it
nevermind my shattered soul
and flesh flayed wide
no secrets left
no shadowed clefts
to hide what’s left of me
just the cold glare of reality
and the medicinal stench
of silent eternity

you there
who wields the hammer
of sanity
whose blood-caked hands
crush worlds
whose vacuous eyes
speak of
distant crimson suns
and blue corpse-light
you there
who rends flesh from bone
blackens sun and moon
you there
whose wretched grin
devours universes
vaporizes souls

you there

what is it you want from me

my essence torn
cell from cell
bones a useless armature
not even a sigh left
in my lungs
all that remains is my mind
and that’s what you want
isn’t it

I have known you
all my life
your honeyed lies
and soothing growls
drain existence of
hue and humor
your breath upon my neck
fetid and abominable
your raging roars
shake my skull numb

but you shall not have
my quicksilver trees
and lavender skies
my sickle moon dozing
above autumn wheat fields
my green silence
in konara copses
my humming leas
of flea bane and lupine
and forest-carpet ferns
these are mine

you there

you will destroy me
in the end
but my world
will live on
free of your rage and
blight and bluster
and that is
all that matters

“A Few Haiku (40)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


so much damage done
by such delicate fingers
and a blackened heart



how soothing the words
whispered to a shattered heart
by her serpent’s tongue



days of green silence
heart fern-bound in oak shadows
dreaming with the trees



I have not yet reached
terminal velocity
my life in free-fall



carved into the bark
of my heart, her initials
overgrown with grief



bright sun hurts my eyes
just as hope singes my soul
best to stay inside

“A Few Haiku (39)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


snap-beans in a wooden bowl
and tears on her cheeks
my mother’s sorrow



pre-dawn mourning
her eyes on the horizon
searching for the light



in konara copse
my soul seeks solace
in the still shadows



my reflection gone
even the stream forsakes me
as I drift away



these numb fingers
I can’t feel the difference
between hope and despair


(#234)–(for Eivor and Pearl)

beneath verdant trees
joy and peace walk side by side
on the dappled path

“A Few Haiku (38)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


sorrow begets joy
from the ashes of my soul
a columbine



what can harsh words rend
that kind words cannot assuage
the healing rain



under starless skies
my heart sings a silent dirge
night wind in the trees



my regrets are mine
my shame wears my haggard face
my soul weeps alone



vagaries of life
my heart’s buoyancy in doubt
on my soulless sea



what my heart demands
my mind cannot comprehend
and my soul rejects

“A Few Haiku (37)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


clarity sundered
in the swelter and the din
of scorched memories



fitting denouement
thoughtless birds and bitter breeze
signify the end



I behold the stars
through the blurred prisms of tears
hope is beyond reach



holes in the pockets
of my soul; I lost myself
somewhere on the way



aloof stars shine on
while constellations of lives
perish on the earth



take my hand, my friend
do not cry, do not despair
you are not alone

“A Few Haiku (36)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley


the empty cistern
my poetry garden dies
in this wordless drought



that cur depression
skulks on the periphery



thoughts bereft of words
prisoners inside my head
silent penitence



desiccated soul
slakes its thirst from murky meres
roams my sunless mind



mental exhaustion
I can no longer pretend
everything is fine



parts of me have died
that no one will ever know
nor will ever mourn

“Sea of Trees”

“Sea of Trees”
(c) 2019 by Michael L. Utley

To slake my thirst
With dew from leaves that never see the light
Arboreal the tears that fall and quench
The darkest dreams

To fill my bowels
With loam whose cloying scent bespeaks of death
Arboreal the taste of living earth
My hunger begs

To see the gleam
‘Neath tenebrous shadows and rayless groves
Arboreal the blackest night in day
Below the boughs

To run rough hands
O’er scabrous bark and hardened boles and moss
Arboreal the pillars scrape the sky
In breezes weep

The silence holds
Forbidden knowledge
The silence holds
The universe
The silence holds
The truth

The path wends through
This living thing, this thing that sighs and cries
And dies and eats itself a cannibal
Whose roots betray sorrowful sentience
Whose trunks hold back the sky with anguished might
Whose limbs strain forth in melancholy pleas
A beckoning

A reckoning
The path into the gloom is just a path
With littered leaves and lichen on the rocks
And overhead the canopy to keep
The sky from falling down under the weight
Of lifetimes filled with torment and regret
It’s just a path

No need to fear
The forest welcomes me it knows my name
Envelops me in arms of somber green
It sings to me a song of silent peace
It pulls me down the path on wings of leaves
It whispers of a place where I may rest
And leads me there

There are others
Herein among the endless sea of trees
Herein among the caverns and the gulfs
Herein among the secrets and the cries
Which echo faintly in sepulchral voids
Herein where many come and none return
There are others

These are my kin
These shades that linger far beyond their time
And welcome me with soundless empty stares
And follow me along the darkling path
And shimmer as mirages in the air
And fade away as if they’d never been
Into the trees

The silence holds

My personal Aokigahara
My sea of trees my jade remembrance
There is a place just off the path ahead
A place of sodden leaves and broken twigs
And bitter cold that numbs away all pain
A resting place

I am not that boy who saw the sun
I have never seen the sun nor shall
I see only trees


© 2012 by Michael L. Utley
There is no air
Down there
Down in the dark
Where I choke
On my life
Nature abhors
A vacuum
But rage
A carcass
Under a red
Alien sun
Gasping a mere
I am a fish
Cast upon the shore
Drowning on nothing
Dried eyes
I see nothing
So nothing exists
The calm susurrus of the waves
Is the great deception
I cannot reach
The water
I am not fit for the
Fisherman’s net
The cry of the gull
The sigh of sea grass in the breeze
The languid flap of my tail
The hard hot stones of the beach
The stench of all things
The sea
I try to scream
But there is no