The Least of These Things

The Least of These Things
by Julie Sumner

The angle of midday sunlight,
The signal mirror’s curve,
The constant, attentive gaze
Of the coast guard pilot’s eyes:
The least of things
Can save a life.

The teams of shiny lice on
The inmates’ droopy shirts,
The SS guard’s scratchy fear
Of infesting his clean-laundered wife:
The least of things
Can save a life.

The cup of jasmine tea offered
To the suicidal jumper–
The last hour then becomes
Just another hour
Spent in kind repose
With one another:
The least of these things
Can save a life.


In my area of the world, power lines are above the ground, and subsequently subject to tree limbs falling and taking down entire neighborhoods’ electricity. The electric companies decided to be proactive and trim any and all tree limbs off of the power lines without regard for what that would actually mean for the tree itself. While I do appreciate their efforts to maintain electricity, the butchered trees are unfortunate collateral damage. Some of the trees, however, have managed to overcome their scars.

by Julie Sumner

Leviathan arising from the lawn
Of the deserted stone house filled with ghosts–
An Eastern pine?
A hundred years old?
The trunk tortuously twirled and massive,
Limbs lopped off for power lines left dark scars,
And the frame of the tree mutilated
To ensure uninterrupted power.

Now lichen-covered, the leviathan’s
Tentacled trunk convulses in the wind,
Limbs shake, arcing and diving through currents,
And the barren part of the tree now like
A faded oven burn,
Or a painless afterthought,
On the face of its wild, unflinching beauty.

False Forget-Me-Not

False forget-me-not is the common name for Brunnera macrophylla–a shade perennial that is supposedly easy to grow and trouble-free. I have had a somewhat different experience with this little plant, but plants are a lot like people and often surprise me.

False Forget-Me-Not
by Julie Sumner

She was a mealy-mouthed, hanger-on type–
Never took off, never died off,
She lived up to her common name.

It was the same story every green spring:
Her tendrilled fingers opened the earth
Bearing white-veined leaves curled expectantly–

But the simple clay was far too clammy,
The sun sweating hot and constant,
Her leaves were stunted, misshapen–
Later altogether blackened, bitten
To pieces by some neighborhood fungus.

She never seemed to hold anyone’s gaze.

But miracles are indiscriminate
And her blooming astonished everyone–
One outstretched stem defied bleak history,
Bearing perfect blooms as blue as truth.

A Thanksgiving for Ignorance

Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you are able
To work miracles for your kingdom
Through your fallible children
Even when they have no idea
Where they are going
What they are doing.
That the Holy Spirit works
Through us despite our
Lack of knowing,
Makes your power that much
More glorious.
O Lord,
Who is like you?
The disciples had no idea what to think
Immediately after the Crucifixion–
But the knowledge of man
Is nothing to you,
You who destroyed death
And midwifed the Resurrection.

A Tryptic of Haiku

Hi Friends, well sometimes the muse, or whoever shows up to help me write poetry, just dawdles and dilly-dallies and never bothers to show at all. Some days, it just doesn’t happen because my mind is thinking about lots of other things. In that case, I just try for a few haiku because something is better than nothing and it’s the discipline that counts, right?? So, here are a few little haiku just because it’s spring. FYI–Haiku are small poems consisting of three lines each, usually about nature.

Bleeding hearts emerge
As winter’s dark triumph wanes–
Mercy flowers pink.

Days lengthen and warm,
Sunlight mends frost-fractured earth,
Soft soil welcomes seeds.

The woods buzz with green,
Redbuds race to bloom purple–
Springtime wins at last.