(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

“A Few Haiku (12)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Regret stills haunts me
Even though my heart tells me
I did all I could



When I am in need
God responds to all my prayers
“Return to sender”



The days come and go
But sometimes inside my heart
The night never leaves



Summer sun has gone
That impostor in the sky
Only leaves me cold



Autumn’s thievery
Has left more than trees barren
Summer leaves no heir



Seasons’ edges blurred
Snow on flowers, freezing rain
I seek clarity

“A Few Haiku (11)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


Earth, sea and sky have
Tales to tell; be patient
For they speak slowly



I attain wisdom
Not from church or pagoda
But from woods and streams



When winter wind blows
All pretense is torn away
Bares my soul to all



Whispering sea shell
Tells of life I could have had
If I’d dared to live



This overgrown path
Filled with rocks and thorns cannot
Lead me home again



If I had to choose
Between food and happiness
I’d happily starve

“My Jade Remembrance”

“My Jade Remembrance”
(c) 2019 by Michael L. Utley

I used to know you
9,000 tears ago
A tear for every mile
That kept me from you
A tear for every moment
Not spent with you
A tear for every hope
Not shared with you
9,000 tears

A jade remembrance
For my brown-eyed love
A dusky green heart
On a silver chain
I keep in my pocket
It was for you
Everything was for you
Everything I had
Everything gone except
My jade remembrance

You were already dead
Before I ever met you
Your path etched in stone
I was just a detour
A distraction on your way
Into darkness
A temporary reprieve
An unplanned respite
For the lost girl
The girl who would learn to fly
Or die trying

And I was the lost boy
The boy who had
Never seen the sun
Until I saw you
The boy whose shattered heart
Had one last beat for you
A final crescendo for my
Brown-eyed love

I couldn’t fix you
You weren’t broken
You were destroyed
Crushed by the weight of
Hounded by demons
Unknown to me
Yet you smiled at me
And pulled me from
My own abyss
And I loved you

My jade remembrance
Are you still there
Did you close your eyes
And take that leap of faith
Did you learn to fly
Or did you die trying
You didn’t just take your life
You took mine too

I keep your heart in my pocket
On a silver chain

(for Lizzy)

“I Did This”

“I Did This”
© 2012 by Michael L. Utley
I did this
A handful of fear and feathers
The black eye of God
A handful of blood and feathers
I did this
A tiny universe
Gasping for breath
Grasping for death
Stopped cold
By the golden orb of fate
I have seen myself
In the black eye of God
The dulling
Eye of God
And there I stood
An empty eternity
Before me
My marbled form
My ivory eyes
Yet full of knowledge
A handful of bones and feathers
I did this
I cried
As the sparrow died
In my hand
Its blood a tracery
In my palm
A crimson filigree
My life line stained
In its death
I cursed myself
Railed at the sky
At the earth
At all things
There is no why
There only is
And this was bitter
The dead bird
Was still warm
When I buried it
A handful of nothing
A heart crushed by everything
I did this