Back to Issue Ten.




How many times can you walk back
to that old airfield?  No more coming
or going, just some rabbit holes, a tower
up to its ankles in grass, a wind sock limp
in wind.  If you stay a long time, maybe an owl
will do something average in the darkening
sky, and the train, whether coal or steam,
will seem a steady, appropriate sound.
In the day tall fields buzz with the dust
of insects flying stalk to stalk, speaking tongueless
tongues.  Grass and root get the last win.
Runway lights that once drew home tired
eyes are dark as rock come night.
You might be tempted to swear
that this is a place for being found
but details are never the same: now
a family of foxes is curled into commas
in the hull of a Cessna, the tower is crumpled
into blocks.  Maybe there never was a train.
All an empty place wants is you
to witness its emptiness.  What it means
to say if only and mean it.

Jeff Whitney is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent of which, The Tree With Lights In It, is forthcoming from Thrush Press. Along with Philip Schaefer, he is the co-author of Smoke Tones, which is forthcoming from Phantom Limb Press. Recent poems can be found or found soon in Birdfeast, Blackbird, Columbia Poetry Review, Salt Hill Journal, and Sugar House Review. He lives in Portland, where he teaches English. Find him online at