Tom Montag – three poems

Look, Tricks!

Look, tricks! they say

their wares. I don’t
listen. It is not

a puzzle. For me
it is sky swallowing

the night; it is
a child asking

for milk; it is
the turn spring

makes to summer.
Put those in!

I say. But they
don’t listen.

The Poet Listens

He cannot hear
God’s whisper.

He listens, but
no — he cannot.

The wind, yes,
wind in the trees,

he hears that well
enough. The birds

singing behind
the leaves, he hears

them too. Yet not
God’s whisper.

All around him
they are shouting,

who think that
shouting at God

will make God
speak to them. No

wonder silence
then, at the end,

when we are taken.

The Turn

As if only falling
through the darkness,

falling through August,
towards autumn. The dry

scratch of loneliness,
and evening deepens.

Everything depends on
something. What I need

are these Perseids, these
fading streaks of hope,

this tearing up of sky,
these last Ahs and Ohs.

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013 (MWPH Books, 2014), This Wrecked World (Bitterzoet Press, 2016) and The Miles No One Wants (a free PDF download from Otata’s Bookshelf, 2016). He has been a featured poet at Atticus Review, Contemporary American Voices, Houseboat, and Basil O’Flaherty Review, and has received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review, Blue Heron Review, and The Lake. With David Graham, he is editing an anthology of poetry about small town America.


Tom Montag – four poems

Stars Tonight

An astonishment of stars
again tonight, pulling at me.

As if home is never far.
As if darkness is nothing

to fear. As if all I need
is leaping here between us.

Among the Grasses

What the grasses
have been is what
the world is.

We follow the line
of sky and wonder
if a storm

is coming. The
grasses do not

about tomorrow.
Today is enough
for them,

with its gold shining
wind, the promising
morning dew.

Wild grasses, you
understand? Upon
a hillside,

not tended,
making their own
way from

dim and distant
swamp to this lifting
of these

high plains. Here,
in this place
where God lives.

Another Coyote

Another coyote
spirited to heaven,
another sadness
where I live.

In the woods, darkness.
In the sky, wonder
at the day’s wideness.

Everything settles back
and asks forgiveness.

Coyote leads the prayer.

The Weight

All night the stars,
a road in the distance,
some wind.

Things fly away
from us at astonishing
speed, as

if gravity is greater
out at the edge
than here

in the center of this
universe, as if what
we want

was always meant
to be lost to us.

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013 (MWPH Books, 2014). He is a contributing writer at Verse-Virtual. In 2015 he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August) and at year’s end received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review. Other poems will be found at Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, Mud Season Review, Poetry Quarterly, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere.