Issue 5 Poetry


A Cranberry Pops In Central Wisconsin

In Kentucky, I hold my wrist with one hand
and my rifle in the other. It’s a short walk

to wherever I’m going but I never know
when I’m there. The sun points downward

and beats me to a pulp-less version of selfhood.
A bird sings because it wants to sing, no, because

it can sing so it does, it does indeed.
Branches break into smaller branches,

mimic the cells that grew them in the first place
like babies growing up to be bad parents

after their own mothers and fathers. Rifle in hand,
I worry I’ll be a bad father, too. It’s sunrise

and the sun knows I’m waiting for it this time.
I’ll hunt and I’ll walk but I’ll never take aim,

not this time, not after the doe walks the fawn
across the road (I forget the punchline) and

no cars send them packing early. It’s too easy
to see motherly love and know God is a she.

It’s too easy to watch sunlight dance between leaves
as it glides across morning blueness and think:

all of this is worth the seconds between the nows.
A version of me is bamboozled by the revelations

of a walk through the woods, rifle in hand, when told
to kill or never come home (jokes on them, I couldn’t

find home if it was an open door, a warm meal).
It is confused and hurts itself in confusion. It is concerned

and holds itself tight with concern. A woodswalk bibliography
could say a few things about Emerson or red cardinals or

dandelions transitioning to daisies or squirrels twirling
around the upper reaches of trees or how lonely it can be

to be alive or how lonely it is to walk, rifle in hand,
in the woods without bloodlust in the heart. It can be

so lonely, so full of wishes it may pop, like a cranberry
in Wisconsin, way back at the start, before it meant anything

to end up the dad who spent mornings alone in the woods,
rifle in hand, working out ways to love a child who wants love

more than the sweet breath of early air, plus a dozen Christmases,
times the days a version of the child couldn’t love itself, not one bit.


Noah Powers is a high school English teacher in Kentucky, where he was born and raised. He writes poetry and creative nonfiction, with poetry published in Rejection Letters and creative nonfiction published in Blue Marble Review and forthcoming in Autofocus. While a student at Western Kentucky University, he won an interdepartmental poetry contest judged by writer Erin Slaughter and finished runner-up in the same contest a year later, that time judged by poet Mackenzie Berry. In his free time, he plays disc golf and cherishes his partner whom he plans to marry.

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