The Shadows Listen

A tree frog croaks alone like that's what he planned. The shadows listen.
He sounds like a match struck on a cinder block, and the shadows listen.

Leaving a sound of absence, a cold drip of water like
A spark fades away against the hand. The shadows listen.

The ravens only jeer, and the angels can't find anyplace
That wouldn't stain their garment when they land, but the shadows listen.

There's no evading their observation or their understanding.
Their minds sneak into my body like gaseous commandos, these shadows that listen.

Who notices when prayers and hymns float to heaven and hell
On incense and burning temples' smoke so grand?  The shadows listen.

You haven't survived on poison and poured yourself out for nothing, Brian,
because when your ashes blend into the sand, the shadows listen.


Brian Koester is an MFA candidate at the Bennington Writing Seminars. The work of Agha Shahid Ali and John Thompson first drew him into ghazals.