by James Grinwis

Owls come in many shapes.
Strigiformes, they are called.
One is cold then hot then a latch
of warmth, very much
like a short-eared owl. A burrowing
owl. A snowy one. The tiara discing
through the window in resplendent
diatomaceous sunlight shone
like Carlos’s hand kilned white
by the highway noon.
Encirclings are aspects of hawks,
very un-owl, whose strikes are more silent,
sudden, and barbed. I knifed into the
urban woodland and found a frozen
waterfall and imagined an ancient god
heaving against the rounded hills
which were like frozen hulls.
An incidental music filtered
through my left cerebrum and soothed
the paleolithic stem, so I went home.
The dog and his hundred pounds swelled
with happiness. My neighbor had wandered in
and left a note about wanting
some wine, and in return for the box of Cabernet
she’d given my big-hearted hound
a bath with the watering can and a bar of soap.
His eyes were like globes
holding inside them the blood of a saint.
I used to believe the souls of athletes
matched the utensils of their sport.
Baseball: hard with a barely discernible shell;
golf: swift and devastating; basketball:
sweat-smashed and pocked; puck: a tough,
spit-strewn stone; endurance athletes with nothing
except slices of water, land, and air.
But we were speaking of owls, their airy,
fluffed up forms, their deadliness and instinct for love.

James Grinwis' second book, Exhibit of Forking Paths, was selected for the National Poetry Series and came out in 2011 from Coffee House. He co-edits Bateau Press and recent poems have appeared or forthcoming in Realpoetik, Guernica, Coconut, and Forklift Ohio.

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