James Naiden



Hearing Crickets Late 0n the Last Night of June
for Ethna McKiernan

Now the tumbrels of July hurtle near with scallops
of heat, running fire not far away in Colorado,
already this dying month has honored flooding
& dislocation among those not alert,

some who were – but when one has not been touched,
it is still hard to keep smug because age & infirmity
reach all who defy accident, premature death,
those unsought martyrs we revere in story

but grieve for in life, in death – mortality, we say,
not to make it sound grim, which it is.
The wrought sounds of insects obeying their natures,
not caring for audience approval or needing approbation

from anyone who suffices with song or images,
these are the plaudits Yeats and Akhmatova craved,
the nature of this, our world, the real stretch of eyes,
hearing, and place, amenable or not – this, our lives

portending work, small joys, before the humblest death.




James Naiden’s third novel, The Chafings of Mortals, was published in 2011. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a regular reviewer for IS&T.

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