Plagues, Caves and Headlights: The Poetry of the Natural World

This week’s High Window preview is an atmospheric  wildlife poem which we hope you will enjoy. If you do, you might like to know that there is a further selection of animal poetry which you can browse, read and listen to at the Poetry Archive. You could do a lot worse than make a start with John Burnside’s ‘Animals’  which is taken from his collection The Light Trap (Cape, 2002). And if you were impressed by Mike Barlow‘s ‘Stump Cross System’ which we previewed last month and which is now available in our  current issue you should check out  ‘Bat Cave’ by the wonderful American poet Eleanor Wilder.

Ken Craft:Poem


Raining. Restlessness.
Wet streets and the wan smell
of drowning earthworms.
The deluge-drummed hood
on the drive to work before dawn.

Ahead, halogen slivers of silver
pin effervescent puddles
in sibilant streets.
Sound of water-hosed wheel wells.
Smell of amphibian air creeping the car’s
phosphorescent cave as headlights
pith the darkness.

Then, to Biblical beat, the rain-bloated
bullfrogs in the road. Their heavy, emigrant leaps.
Crossing. Fleeing.
Right to left.
Pond to perdition.

I swerve between slicks of them,
jumping sacks
of green saturation, golden-eyed
with apocalypse as if pursued
by an Aesopian Stork God
stilting about the woods or a French chef
sheathed in the bog & whetstone of night.

My tires speak the quality of mercy,
slurring soliloquys beneath wet brakes
as these dark croaks of life, yellow & green, live
& die with only the briefest of benedictions,
only the reddest of blessings
in tail-lit exhaust.

Ken Craft is a teacher and a writer living west of Boston. His poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, Plainsong, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Off the Coast, Spillway, Slant, Angle Journal of Poetry, The High Window, and numerous other journals and e-zines. The Indifferent World, his first poetry collection, was released in 2016 by Future Cycle Press. His second collection will appear in December. You can visit him at


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