Mercy Ghazal

(for a colleague who asks, “How will you be human today?”)

 Events exceed what verse can render…

 – Hacker

Ice of east wind over wave-white lake in spring.
Fall’s wasp nest:  cold combs rip and flake in spring.

Ductal breast carcinoma:  cancer’s mad cells outdare programmed death,
          underspread –
Like homeland that stranger wood and weed overtake in spring.

Who watched the full moon rise over Laeken in winter?
Who watches it fade and fall over Molenbeek in spring?

A switchback hillside, a squall-haunted farmhouse stripped to insulation;
Uncertain hallways drift, ice rooms of wind shake in spring.

Love and wine – wine deep as squill spread blue, love
Snow-drowsy as frogs that chant themselves awake in spring.

Day breaks new-broken stones at the Temple of Baalshamin;
At Idomeni, daylight’s razor wire as a keepsake in spring.

Thus the one doorway.  The only other, though, is law –
As true as hard, like moonrise and daybreak in spring.

Or you could try to look for blessedness:  In doorways.
In snowdrops.  In a wasp nest.  In heartache.  In spring.

Waves marble blue, headland wood afloat and green and nearing –
But summer’s a journey that none can make in spring.

You’re afraid to answer.  Ashamed to answer.  Instead, you sign
Your name:  Your old year misstep.  Your mistake in spring.


James Scannell McCormick holds a doctorate in creative writing-poetry from Western Michigan University.  His works have appeared in Unsplendid, Antiphon, and THINKHis poem “Lot (Hermes in Tulips)” was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize; his poem “Trouble” was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize.  He currently lives and teaches in Rochester, Minnesota.