by W.F. Lantry

“Experience, though noon auctoritee… “
~ Chaucer

Beyond the house, beyond the fence I built
last summer, down the slope I cleared with saws
and brushhooks, past the sycamore too large
for any blade I have, with its hung vines,
beyond the trilliums, immaculate
with white each April, vanishing by June,

I cleared the loose dimensions of a glade,
cut saplings down, untangled every vine,
rank poison ivy, devil’s thorn, red grape,
tore out coarse undergrowth, and carried limbs
storm fallen, to the bramble edge, then mowed
our meadow grasses almost to a lawn.

I’d hoped to make a ground for summering,
for play and evening song, perhaps a spot
where she could mark up scores in quietude
untroubled by the chaos of the house,
but lifting up the last decaying wood
disturbed a swarm of hornets. Poisoned barbs

winged everywhere. I felt them through my shirt
and stripped it as I ran. My other clothes
littered a path towards the riverbank
where finally I paused, my skin in flames.
Doused in the stream, I called out, then returned
to gather what was left, and limped inside.

W.F. Lantry holds a PhD from the University of Houston. In 2010 he won the Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize, Crucible Poetry Prize, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, and the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry. His work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, Prairie Fire, Kestrel, Asian Cha, Poetry Salzburg, Gulf Coast and Aesthetica. He currently works in Washington, DC and is a contributing editor of Umbrella. His website is