Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

rain dance



a scarecrow is doing a rain dance
out in the field

his rain dance consists of holding
as still as possible

through many days and nights
that pass with no rain

for as as many days and nights
as anyone could possibly endure

and then when it starts to rain finally
the scarecrow continues standing still

as if he weren’t trying all along
to get it to rain with his silly dance

as if he weren’t wishing
this whole time for rain

he holds still
through the rain

knowing he has to save his energy
so he is able to hold even more still

when it is time to do
his rain dance all over again






the audience gathers.      but the audience is
just corn.        and the corn has been here all
along.   the curtain rises.    but the curtain is
just  the  sky.       and  its  rising  is  just  the
morning.      as mornings have been all along.
the spotlight falls on the scarecrow.  but the
spotlight is only the sun.      and the sun just
happened to fall upon the scarecrow.      the
scarecrow takes his moment at center stage.
but  the  stage  is  just  this  field.           the
scarecrow is only at the center of this field.
depending  upon  your  perspective.        the
scarecrow clears his throat.        and delivers
his soliloquy.   even though he doesn’t really
have a throat to clear.     and his soliloquy is
just silence.              and silence is not really
silence.              because of that dog barking.
because of that tractor starting.   because of
that  one  or  is  it  several  birds  screeching.
but it is silence enough.    and the scarecrow
speaks.   or  doesn’t  speak  at  all. with  such
authority.   that  it  is  like  nothing  we  have
ever  heard  before.                 and  we  listen.
profoundly moved by the truth of it.     or the
absence  of  any  truth  of  it.      as  we  have
wished to be moved all along.


Denver Butson has published four books of poetry: triptych (The Commoner Press, 1999), Mechanical Birds (St. Andrews Press, 2000), illegible address (Luquer Street Press, 2004), and the sum of uncountable things (Deadly Chaps, 2015). His work has been featured in Poetry 180, then-US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’ program for the Library of Congress and its corresponding anthology 180 Poems, as well as in dozens of literary journals, including Yale Review, Ontario Review, Field, Willow Springs, the Adroit Journal, Caliban, Exquisite Corpse, Winter Tangerine Review, and elsewhere. Regularly featured on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac, Butson has been thrice-nominated for the Pushcart Prize (once by Joyce Carol Oates and twice in 2013). He is one of the founders of BACAS, a cultural and artistic laboratory in Southern Italy, launching its first gatherings, festivals, residencies and events in 2016. He lives with his wife and daughter in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Next (Conor Bracken) >

< Previous (Meghann Plunkett)